She will compete in Idaho High School state rodeo
By Paul Wahl
Wallowa County Chieftain
In a few days, Emma Hite will load up her horse and drive seven hours to Pocatello, Idaho, for her first time competing in the Idaho High School Rodeo Association finals.
She’ll bring along a year’s worth of daily training and a ton of support from her family and extended family.
“My dad was a roper and rode bulls, and he kind of got me into it,” said Emma, who began competing in Idaho’s junior high division some years back. “My mom taught me everything I know.”
James and Jill Hite are instructors in the Joseph Charter School, and Emma is a sophomore at Joseph High School. She competes in Idaho because the distance to enter competitions and earn points is less than most of the Oregon qualifying rodeos. It’s still an average of four-hours one way on the road, but she also has family in the Weiser, Idaho, area, which makes for a convenient stopover.
She practices two hours daily seven days a week in an arena owned by her uncle Dave Yost outside of Joseph. Her brother provides commentary for the videotapes of her events. The Hites live on a ranch on Crow Creek outside of Enterprise.
Emma says a good mount is a key to winning.
Shepurchased her horse from her mom’s cousin, who buys, sells and trades horses in Idaho. Flo has been her constant companion since the eighth grade.
“It was love at first sight,” said Emma of the 11-year-old 14.2-hand bay quarter horse. “She has a level head and doesn’t get excited or hot ... she knows how to do her job and most of the time I just stay out of her way. I just go with the flow.”
Emma has qualified to compete in two events –– pole bending and barrel racing.
“Poll bending is my favorite, because it’s more challenging,” said Emma, whose personal best time is a respectable 22.3. She’s hoping to shave more than a second off that when she reaches Bannock County Event Center.
In last year’s competition, one rider posted a 20.39.
Hite has run 16.31 in barrels but isn’t certain how fast she and Flo will have to fly to win.
“Sometimes there are bigger barrel patterns, and that impacts times,” she said.
The competition runs June 4-10 beginning with check-in the first day. Then each contestant will participate in three go-rounds, hoping to finish with enough points to compete in the short go later in the week.
If she finishes among the top contenders in Idaho, she will be invited to the High School Rodeo National Finals in July in Gillette and Rock Springs, Wyo.
High school rodeo isn’t all about riding and scoring points. In order to be eligible to participate in Pocatello, Emma will have to submit her final semester or trimester report card. Those whose grades don’t measure up don’t compete.
Emma says she plans to compete throughout the remainder of her high school years and most likely beyond.
“It’s something I will probably be doing it the rest of my life,” she said.
She is contemplating a future in animal science.
Emma Hite’s events
Pole bending pattern is to be run around six poles positioned in a straight line. Each pole is to be 21 feet apart and the first pole is to be 21 feet from the starting line. Starting either to the right or left of the first pole, rider runs course pattern weaving between the poles. Five-second fine for each pole knocked over. No two girls may ride the same horse.
Contestant is allowed a running start; time begins as soon as the horse’s nose reaches the starting line and is stopped when horse’s nose crosses the finish line. Contestant must run barrels in cloverleaf pattern, starting either left or right. A five-second penalty for each barrel knocked down will be assessed. No two girls may ride the same horse.