McCLURE - Katelyn White might spend only 15 seconds in the saddle, but she makes each ride count.
Hailing from McClure, the 19-year-old barrel racer recently won the American Professional Rodeo Association Finals Average and Year End awards at the American Finals Rodeo held Oct. 12, 13 and 14 in Shartlesville. White's quickest run during the three-day performance lasted only 15.2 seconds and helped her win the Finals Average for lowest cumulative time throughout the weekend. The Year End Award is for White's overall point earnings during the last competitive year.
Though she has been riding for most of her life, White said she began competing in the APRA circuit in 2009 with her registered Quarter Horse, Miss Panama Perks. She said she has Doug Kerstetter, of Milroy, to thank for selling the dark bay mare in 2008. In their rodeo debut, White and "Missy" earned Rookie of the Year, among other awards.
Sentinel photo by BRADLEY?KREITZER
Katelyn White, 19, of McClure, won the American Professional Rodeo Association Finals Average and Year End awards at the American Finals Rodeo held Oct. 12-14 in Shartlesville.
Yet, winning year-end honors in the APRA takes more than a quick horse. White said she practices running the clover-leaf barrel pattern several times a week and spends many of her weekends traveling the eastern U.S. to attend APRA and International Professional Rodeo Association sanctioned competitions.
While she focuses on flawless patterns and quick times, White's father, Jeff, "keeps the books." Jeff said he oversees scheduling, drives the trailer and helps care for the family's horses.
"(Katelyn) likes to get out and travel," he said, adding that part of the fun is meeting up with friends from all over the east coast.
Even more importantly, professional rodeos earn money; the driving force behind White's dedication to his daughter's sport. One 15-second run could net a rider anywhere from $450 to $2,000, he said.
"She does enough to pay for this," he said, plus keep a profit.
This year's wins also earned Katelyn a brand new, intricately tooled trophy saddle and two belt buckles.
Running a winning barrel pattern takes lots of practice, but Katelyn said it's also a little bit of luck. Times vary depending on the ground, size of the arena and placement of the barrels. Like many athletes, the Whites have a few trusted secrets to success.
"We hate to change things," Jeff explained.
Missy wears the same bell boots in every competition, he said. He also lets her rub her nose on his shoulder before each run. After warming up, the horse's face gets hot and itchy, he said, so a quick rub relieves the itch and allows her to focus.
Barrel racers also never pick up their money until the end of the competition, Katelyn said. It's considered good luck to let the money grow rather than run up and grab it.
As one competitive year winds down, Jeff said he and Katelyn are already anticipating next year's rodeos.
For more information about the American Professional Rodeo Association, visit aprarodeo.com.