Rodeo ride a barrel of fun for soil scientist
Fast and accurate are the intentions for rodeo barrel racer Rachael Third when she competes at the International Rodeo champs in Hamilton this month.
With just three seasons under her belt and working her way through her fourth, the 29-year-old Bulls soil scientist is hoping for a top four finish and a personal best time.
Miss Third comes from a family of top riders and has shown exceptional ability.
She competes in the open division, which is unusual for someone with as short a rodeo career as hers, and sits third on the national rodeo standings board in barrel racing.
Miss Third's horse Comanche should get credited for much of the success, she said, as he had been a stable influence on the pair's achievements.
"He has been involved in rodeo a lot longer than I have and that has been great for me to learn the sport."
The 12-year-old part quarter horse was used as a pickup horse in rodeo, giving a mount to riders who had just finished their bucking session, but it will be the first time the horse and rider has competed under lights and indoors.
"I'm not sure how he will react as it's a lot noisier and the crowd a lot closer than in outdoor events, but it will be a great experience."
Training consists of working in the paddocks surrounding her parents' property on Raumai Rd but there is no hard and fast racing going on, just response exercises and cue work.
"He knows what to do when he gets in the ring."
Only women can compete in barrel racing and boys up to the age of 14.
It's the only event in rodeo that allows women.
To date there have been no injuries, other than the odd spill and bruised ego, but if the rider loses focus and crashes into the padded steel barrels it can be very painful.
"It's not something you want to do too often."
Miss Third said rodeo could be a costly sport if you didn't win prizemoney, with a lot of travel and entry fees eating into the pocket.
"But when you win, the prizemoney can be quite good, especially if there are a lot of people in the division."