Hooves flung dirt into the air as riders urged their horses faster and faster around the barrels at the Pineywoods Youth Rodeo Association’s Rodeo #9 Saturday at the George H. Henderson Expo Center.

Teammates and the crowd cheered competitors on throughout the day.

The rodeo was one of twelve rodeos that the organization holds in a season.

“We are all about promoting the western way of life, family fun entertainment, and the opportunity to compete and make friends,” Colette DePriest, PYRA secretary, said.

The PYRA offers many different competitions, such as barrels, boys and girls break away roping, goats, chute dogging, poles, ribbons, tie-down, team roping and straight away barrels.

DePriest said kids, ages up to 19, come from Louisiana and all over Texas to compete. While PYRA membership is about 200, 160 kids came to compete this weekend.

Emma McCarthy, 12, of Bedias, participated in the straight away barrels, poles, goat tying and break away roping with her Palomino named Dudley. This is her second year as a member of PYRA. “I recommend being a part of this as it’s so much fun. I really like competing and hanging out with my friends at the end of it. It’s like one big family at the rodeo.”

Emma said she has been doing rodeo for a long time and has learned a lot about horses.

“I think some of my animal knowledge will help me in my future career as I want to be a marine biologist,” she said.

She said it’s also fun to be able to possibly win money. The rodeo is considered a Jackpot Rodeo, so several first-ranking contestants are awarded money depending on the number of contests in each category.

Alex Rodell, 14, of Centerville, competed in straight away barrels, break away roping, poles and goats on her quarterhorse Yankee.

“I’ve been involved with the rodeo since I was three,” Alex said. “You make so many friends at the rodeo. It’s just such a fun, educational place to be.”

She said her favorite part of the sport is when she does really well.

“It feels like all your hard work paid off,” she said. “I’m proud of the points I’ve earned so far and am really excited to compete at finals.”

Rodeo results can be viewed at pineywoodsrodeo.com. Click on the Rodeo Results/Draw button and then click on the Rodeo 9 link.

DePriest encouraged community members to stop by today’s rodeo (Rodeo 10) from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. to enjoy the competition, vendors and concessions. There is no gate fee.

PYRA memberships are not available for this season as there are only a few more rodeos to be held (Rodeo 11, Feb. 2; Rodeo 12, Feb. 3; and Finals, weekend of March 16), although entrants can still compete as non-members in the last two rodeos, but not the finals. Memberships for the next season will be accepted in July.

Business sponsorships also are available.

“We have everything from our saddle sponsorships to our silver and bronze buckle sponsorships and we post banners of sponsors in the arena so they are hanging up during the entire rodeo season,” DePriest said.

For more information or to sponsor, email DePriest at pineywoodsrodeo@gmail.com or call the office at 248-5020.

Stephanie Stevens’ email address is sstevens@lufkindailynews.com.

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