By Eric Butler: PNT staff writer
When Kaylee Foster starts school as a freshman at Portales High School in a few weeks, she’s not planning on signing up for a bunch of extracurricular activities.
Don’t worry about Kaylee, 14, keeping busy, though. Foster’s passion is rodeo, and the hours it’s taken to hone her skills paid off handsomely for her this summer.
At the recent High Plains Junior Rodeo Association Finals in Clovis, Kaylee claimed four saddles — given to winners of events — and finished second in one other competition. It’s almost too many saddles, but not quite at the Foster home.
“We have five (horses), so we’re good there,” Kaylee said.
Kaylee, daughter of Ronny and Lee Ann Foster, won the HPJRA titles in the age 13-15 girls category for barrel racing and poles. She was also crowned champion in the finals, which ended July 18, in the all-around category as well as earning another saddle for top All-Around Cowgirl for the entire season.
“When Kaylee started out, we borrowed a horse from Pat Boone. It was a 26-year-old horse and was quite a horse during his time,” said Lee Ann Foster, remembering the start to her daughter’s involvement in rodeo activities. “He would dump her at the end pole over and over and over, because he would cut it so tight. There was one time she got up with a bloody nose and she said, ‘He’s not going to do that to me again.’ She has a stick-to-itiveness — she doesn’t give up.”
That was back when Kaylee was 8. Now she’s a little older and ready for a break after her frenetic summer pace.
“I’m ready for things to kind of slow down. I really don’t do anything after school,” Kaylee said. “We just go practice every day and keep the horses in shape.”
The junior rodeo association’s competitors, ranging from 5 to 19 years old, participate in a series of rodeos starting in April and culminating annually at the rodeo in Clovis.
At the finals, where 150 young cowboys and cowgirls were showing their skills, several other Roosevelt County entrants also fared well. Hunter Hailey was runner up to Foster in the season all-around standings and was second as in the age 13-15 girls goat tying.
Kaylee Tibbs and Haylee Bonner finished tied for second for the age 13-15 barrel racing, while on the boys’ side, Clay Bonner took fourth in age 16-19 boys tie-down roping. Other Roosevelt County participants included Koby Lovett, Joshua Walker, Hayden Powell, Kasey Tibbs, Jordan Hale, Billy Good, Trent Bilberry and Sixto Paiz.