Racing to the finish line

Yves Vasquez, Staff

Olivia Clarke is an 11th-grade student who has been barrel racing for 14 years. Barrel racing is an event in which the rider leads their horse around barrels in the shape of a cloverleaf in the shortest amount of time. She also partakes in pole bending, when the rider has to weave through six poles set up in a straight line, and breakaway roping, where the horse and rider must try and rope a calf.

This year, she decided to join the prestigious International Baccalaureate (IB) diploma program along with barrel racing and other rodeo-style racing events.

¨It is very stressful being in the IB diploma while pursuing barrel racing¨ Clarke said, ¨Trying to balance out time to do homework and training my horses is very difficult, and sometimes the balance is not always feasible.¨

She owes her interest in racing to her parents who have supported her and helped her excel in this sport.

“The constant presence of rodeo in my life caused me to pursue my family legacy,” Clarke said. “I owe my love for the hobby to my dad and mom for spending the countless hours learning how to train and ride the right way.”

Although it is sometimes tricky with her busy lifestyle, she spends numerous hours training herself and her horses for races.

“I ride every day unless I have after-school practices for FFA or work,” Clarke said. “I am training three horses at the moment.”

The hours she puts in are not just for fun, she plans to pursue her horse racing hobby in college as well.

“I plan on joining the college rodeo team at Texas A&M as a barrel racer, pole bender, and breakaway roper,” Clarke said.

There are no words to describe the feeling that is felt while racing. She mainly focuses on how and when to move and lean with her horse. Yet, this is one of the reasons why she is so in love with this challenging and time-consuming hobby.

“The only thing you feel is free from worry and reality,” Clarke said.