by Ed Berti and Becky Griffin,
Rodeos developed in the Southwest United States in the mid 19th century became an integral part of cattle ranching. By 1890, rodeos became public entertainment sometimes performed in combination with popular Wild West shows. These shows featured cowboys and famous folks such as Wild Bill Cody, Annie Oakley and other stars.
In 1929, the Rodeo Association of America formed to regulate the sport. The organization was renamed in 1945 as the Rodeo Cowboys Association (RCA), and the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA), in 1975, the rules established became accepted by most rodeos. Therefore, since the 1970’s rodeos have experienced a growth in popularity as the media embraced an athletic “new breed” of contestant. Performing in a Rodeo is often a family tradition dating back generations.
This family tradition is evidenced in the South Carolina High School Rodeo Association which will return to Mint Hill on April 26 and 27. On Saturday morning, the second day of the two-day event, young children will compete. This, for some, may be the beginning of a long career of riding and roping. Others will have the opportunity to enjoy the thrill and excitement of being involved in a rodeo.
Raelyn Tucker, just six years old, already holds the title All Around Cowgirl. She has a very impressive belt buckle to prove it. During the events, youngsters compete for points and the youngster earned the most points in all events in the winter series rodeo in the Pee Wee Division. This division covers Kindergarten through Second grade. Raelyn was only five when she won the title.
Raelyn, just turned six, attends kindergarten classes at Petersburg Primary School in Pageland, South Carolina. She has been riding horses all her life. She first rode with her parents, MacKenzie and Dwayne Tucker, who have competed in rodeos most of their lives. They live on the large HTH Farm which they share with her grandparents. Her grandfather grows corn, wheat, and soy beans and has large turkey houses where they grow and sell turkeys. The farm also has about fifteen horses and a large arena where Raelyn rides horses every day after school. Her mom and grandmother feed and groom the horses and clean the stalls and exercise the horses daily. Her grandparents were team ropers in rodeos. Her mom’s sister, Kasey Ratliff, held the title All Round Champion in 2008. Her mom also works a full-time job at Monroe Hardware in Monroe. Rodeo is a way of life for this very active family and has been for generations.
Raelyn, a shy but very competitive little girl, began competing “on her own” when she was just three years old. She loves the Pole Bending Competition and this year she has entered the Goat Tying Competitions. She rides her pony, Hank, for competition even though her mother says she rides 3-5 full sized horses each afternoon in the arena on their farm, just for practice and because she loves riding. Her mother also says she is the “quietest little girl and never wants to be the center of attention”. Raelyn weighs only 32 pounds, the Pee Wee’s will compete Saturday morning at 9:00 at the Mini Mac Storage Rodeo Arena on Bartlett Road in Mint Hill. The main events will be Friday and Saturday night at 8:00. Come and enjoy a great (unique for our area) family fun filled event.