Rylee Howton, 17, of Three Rivers recently received the National High School Rodeo Association Student Athlete of the Month award.
Howton is a senior at George West High School where she enjoys Ag leadership. Her favorite event is barrel racing. In a interview with Howton, she answered questions on the following subjects:
Activities/Hobbies: “Besides rodeo, I also play varsity softball and show steers and heifers.”
Goals: “My future goals are to rodeo for Texas A&M University, qualify for the American Semi Finals. WPRA Rookie of the Year, and eventually qualify for the National Finals Rodeo.”
How have you given back to your community? “In my spare lime, I volunteer at R.O.P.E.R. (Riding Opportunities Promoting Exceptional Riders).
“I am passionate about helping harness the healing power of horses to improve the physical, mental and emotional well-being of individuals with disabilities.”
What setback have you faced and how did you overcome it? “Last year, I suffered two concussions playing basketball.
“After months of recovery, going to physical therapy and trying to regain my balance and vision, I still wasn’t released to ride.
“It has taken over a year for my sight to improve and my peripheral vision to he restored.”
Essay: “Rodeo is more than a cheering crowd, a shiny buckle or a fast horse. It’s a lifestyle full of lessons learned between the entry fees, the miles traveled and the injuries suffered.
“In a rodeo, there are no participation medal winners — winners excel, and those who can’t keep up are left behind. A tenth of second is often the difference between winning it all or walking away with nothing.
“In a competitive world like rodeo, there as a lot at stake: time, money, and pride.
“While we do this for the glory, the money and buckles won are just temporary pleasures that are incomparable to the lessons learned.
“It is gritty, dirty and family oriented. The people you meet along the way become your hauling partners, cheering squad and your toughest competition.
“It is demanding, but every single ounce of blood, sweat and tears are worth the final outcome.”