Outside the norm

Gracey Doane, Staff

In high school, not everybody enjoys or participates in the sports offered at the school. A “P.E.” credit is required to graduate, but not everybody considers themselves an athlete.

Schools around Texas offer students an “opt-out,” or in other words, a way to play an out of school “sport” or participate in some kind of activity that will count as a P.E. credit.

Junior Mallory Knee is s student who does an extracurricular activity outside of school. Mallory is a barrel racer and uses this as her “sport.” Mallory has barrel raced for three years but has been practicing to get to a competition level for five years.

Many people don’t believe barrel racing is considered a sport, many just presume that you get on a horse and ride around in circles, but there is more to barrel racing that most spectators do not even think about.

“It takes a lot of physical and mental training to be able to make a great run,” Mallory said, “I would challenge those that do not believe barrel racing is a sport to climb up on a barrel horse and hang on tight, this will surely change their mind.”

Mallory has practiced and set game plans just like any other “athlete,” she even has a coach.

“Normally I ride about 3 times a week,” she said, “I ride about 1-2 hours a day depending on what we’re doing.”

Mallory expresses what keeps her love and passion into this sport.

“I love the adrenaline rush when you hear your name being called over the speakers and when in the alleyway,” she said. “In those moments, I experience a feeling that I’ve never felt in anything else that I do. It is so exciting.”

Mallory has a horse of her own who trains with her named Bugsy, just like most other sport it takes more than just one person to win, it is a team sport.

“ My horse, Bugsy has a personality like a person does,” Mallory said, “He takes selfies and even asks for cookies haha. I’ve had a few “rodeo wrecks” where I have fallen off during a run, and every time, he comes back to me! This just shows how much he cares about me. I truly have an amazing horse with a big heart, and I just love him to death.”

Mallory has to keep herself and her horse on a strict schedule to keep them ready for competitions, she doesn’t just get to skip out of school to go home and be lazy.

“I like to warm up for about 15 minutes which consists of trotting circles and figure 8s,” she said. “After he is good and warm, I lope circles and focus on closing in and widening them with leg cues. After we have got into a groove, I walk him through the barrels. Then I lope through, and I make 2-3 runs. In between each run, I take him two laps around the arena to give him a break and to get his mind off of it. After we make a good run, I take him out of the arena as a reward. We ride around the pasture and take it easy. After he is cooled down, I loosen his girth and walk him to the trailer where I unsaddle him and give his legs a rinse. Doing this helps them cool down even more.”

Mallory has a special place in her heart for her coach.

“My coach, Lauren Karisch, has been such an inspiration and role model, I hope someday I can be half as good as she is.”

Owning a horse and maintaining training and everything along with it is extensive, time-consuming, and not the cheapest, but this junior and her horse don’t mind the challenge and is glad they can do what they love although it cannot be done at school.

“My horse, Bugsy, knows his job. However, hours of practice is required to stay in shape and keep improving.”