Young pole bender headed to international competition 0
Special to the Standard Destiny Stevens.
New Mexico is a great spot to spend a portion of summer vacation, but for 12-year-old Destiny Stevens the real goal is 21. Just 21 seconds to prove she has what it takes to be at the National Junior High Finals Rodeo later this summer.
"I'm in pole bending," said Stevens, who has been challenging herself to do better and better all season, and is feeling confident in her ability to perform when she arrives in Gallup, New Mexico for the June 24 event.
The Strathmore-area resident found out earlier this year that she would be representing Alberta at the international event, which highlights the best of the youngest rodeo-talent in North America and Australia. The accomplishment isn't lost on her, but for her mom Crystal it holds a lot more meaning.
"We were really excited about being asked to be on the National Committee," said Crystal. "Again, mom probably more excited than (Destiny)."
The National Committee is the group in Canada that will make decisions about who is representing the different provinces at the big event, and Destiny was chosen to represent Alberta. That wasn't the only honour though, Destiny is one of only two Grade 6 students in Alberta who will be going to New Mexico, and is one of the youngest competitors.
Although she was excited about the honour, she is looking forward to the competition a lot more.
Presently, Destiny competes most weekends in Alberta at the many different youth rodeos. She recently set a personal best time of 21 seconds and change, which is where she hopes to be consistently in time for the event in the States.
Being at the many rodeos in Alberta isn't really an option for Destiny even if she isn't competing though, as her 13-year-old brother also competes in a variety of events and her father is also in the circuit.
"I think my dad wanted me to rodeo. I know that if I didn't rodeo it would get really boring," said Destiny.
To keep her busy on those weekends out of town she isn't just manoeuvring around the poles, she is also in barrel racing, team roping, breakaway roping and goat tying. Of them all, it was good news that she was selected to compete in pole bending, because it is her favourite event.
"You watch your friends go, and it's nice to see them do well but it also make you push yourself to see if you can do as well," said Destiny. "I love the adrenaline rush."
That rush might be why she loves the sport when she's riding, but the lifestyle is something her entire family really enjoys.
"It's such a sense of family," said Crystal. "Most of the kids spend hours together roping dummies and hanging out."
Destiny is looking forward to hanging out with some of her Alberta rodeo buddies while in New Mexico, but she is also preparing herself for a few new friends as well.
Outside of hanging out, Destiny is well aware of the amount of work she will be expected to do to keep her horse, Mick, well hydrated in the heat of the south. Crystal said they have been speaking with some professional barrel racers who have given them tips on how to prepare the horse for the climate change.
That horse will be the difference between the milliseconds that divide the winners from the rest, so Destiny is always working on her relationship and workmanship with the animal. She said on more than one occasion she has come close to falling off while the horse still works around the poles, and at such high speeds it could easily mean a serious injury for Destiny if the horse didn't do what it should.
As for the highlight of the 21 seconds she spends strutting her stuff, Destiny explained it's all about the rush.
"You just get to push yourself and your horse, be aggressive and you never know what's going to happen."