OPLIN, Texas - There are over 800 rodeo riders in the state of Texas alone. Thirteen year-old Bailey Ryan will be one of four heading to Des Moines for Nationals in barrel racing.
The Oplin native went to state for this first time this year. She was ranked 15th coming into the final round of the tournament, but excited just be competing.
"I was overwhelmed," said Ryan. "There was so many horse trailers and so many people. It was just an honor to make it to State."
Little did she know, at that point, she'd dominate the competition. Ryan tallied a 16.4 second run, which moved her up to the Texas' number two ranking. It also punched her a ticket to compete at Nationals.
"It was amazing!" said Ryan. "I was so excited about [winning state] because that's huge. I mean going from 15th to second. I mean it's points and your time added together, and it's just everything, and I was so excited."
Unlike most barrel racers, Ryan compete with two different horses. Nemo is more consistent and reliable, but Famous is a speed demon.
"They run totally different," said Ryan. "You have to kinda get it in your mind how you have to ride in the arena, and how different they are."
That means practicing is that much more important. It does help that she has a stable and outdoor arena at home. But as Ryan gets set to head to Nationals, she knows it's more than just about practicing hard.
"It's just sort of mental too," said Ryan. "I have to get my mind set on what I need to do there."
Nationals get started in Des Moines on June 23rd at 7 PM.