For the love of horses: Lessons from a rodeo kid about hard work, tenacity and kindness

DAMMERON VALLEY — Sixteen-year-old Amy Mason rises early, as she does every day, at her Dammeron Valley home. It is mid-summer and there is no school but that doesn’t really mean anything to a rodeo kid like her.

Amy Mason rides around the arena at her home in Dammeron Valley, Utah, July 7, 2018 | Photo by Hollie Reina, St. George News

A typical day in her life includes hitting the gym to build up her strength, feeding and caring for the horses and other animals on her family’s property, cleaning stalls and practicing for hours and hours. It is hard work but there is nowhere she would rather be than with her horses, she said.

Amy Mason is a member of the Enterprise High School Rodeo team and the nearly yearlong rodeo season is just about to come to end. For Mason and a few of her rodeo friends, it will all culminate at the National High School Finals Rodeo where she qualified to compete in goat tying.

Called “tenacious, stubborn and hard-working” by her mom, Kathie Mason, Amy Mason eked her way into the national competition almost all by sheer grit and determination.

“Coming into state I was sitting in 10th and you have to be in the top four to qualify,” Amy Mason said of making it into the national event.

Going into the state competition she knew she would have to put in a strong performance in order to garner enough points for her to qualify for nationals and that is just what she did.

“I went in there and had three solid runs … and all those points accumulated to get me up into fourth place,” she said.

Amy Mason is not a stranger to finding success in rodeo. As an eighth-grader, she was a state champion, Kathie Mason said. But it isn’t necessarily her strength in competition that makes her stand out.

L-R: Havana Reina (6) rides Yogi as Amy Mason on Ace gives her direction during a riding lesson in Dammeron Valley, Utah, July 7, 2018 | Photo by Hollie Reina, St. George News

“She doesn’t let it go to her head. When she’s out there and she’s winning, you can tell she’s pleased about that, but then she comes back and she is helping everyone of the other girls with their events.”

In the past, Amy Mason has even extended more than just a helping hand to her fellow competitors. At the national event when she was in eighth-grade she lent her horse to a competitor from Hawaii who had qualified in the same event. Rather than keeping the horse to herself, she allowed another girl the chance to compete.

“How many young girls would do that?” Kathie Mason said.

To this day the girls and their families remain friends.

In addition to her chores and practices, Amy Mason takes time out of her busy schedule to pass on her passion and knowledge to the younger generation by teaching horseback riding lessons. But they are no ordinary riding lessons.

Lessons include caring for the horses before and after riding, learning and memorizing all of the tack, riding technique and building confidence on a horse.

Beyond the basics, Amy Mason teaches her students the same things she has learned through rodeo; the value of hard work, a love for horses, courage, tenacity and kindness.

Amy Mason demonstrates a barrel pattern while teaching a riding lesson in Dammeron Valley, Utah, July 7, 2018 | Photo by Hollie Reina, St. George News

Amy Mason currently works as a vet tech and can see herself working in the veterinarian field in large animal chiropractics or possibly as an equine therapist, she said.

As for the upcoming national competition, Amy Mason said she plans to go into the competition and kick butt.

“I hope that after nationals, she is the national goat tying champ,” Kathie Mason said. “She’s worked for it, I know she can do it.”

The National High School Finals Rodeo will take place July 15-21 at the Sweetwater Events Complex in Rock Springs, Wyoming.

The top four qualifiers in each event from all participating states as well as parts of Canada and Australia are eligible to attend.

Several other competitors from Southern Utah also qualified for nationals: McKenna Coronado of Kannarraville, Kaytlyn Miller of Enterprise, Stetson Wright of Milford, Zeke Holcomb of Dixie, Jolynn Holt of Enterprise, Curry Wilkins of Dixie, Emily Vigoren of Dixie, Kash Cattoor of Cedar City and Qade Adams of Cedar City.

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Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2018, all rights reserved.

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