Powell High School senior Aspen Aguirre finished last summer’s Cody Nite Rodeo season in fourth place in barrel racing; she jumped up two spots after entering the season-ending finals ranked sixth.
“It’s a really big rush,” Aguirre said of barrel racing. “You don’t even hear anything when you are running out there; it’s all just really fast, insanely fast, everything is so fast.”
Points are accumulated throughout the season from the first Cody Nite Rodeo till the last three days of competition. In those last three days the top 10 in each event then compete in the finals.
During the finals, the 18-year-old Aguirre ran times of 17.9 seconds, 17.60 seconds and 17.80 seconds.
Competitors can only compete five out of the seven nights a week throughout the season.
Aguirre said the competition can kind of get ramped up during the month of August as cowboys and cowgirls mount their last push to make the top 10.
Throughout the summer, Aguirre competed two to three nights a week and has been running barrels for the last five years.
“The speed is what drew me to it,” Aguirre said. “Something about going fast I’ve always liked; I love to go fast.”
But the sport involves more than just running around a barrel, as barrel racing is a partnership between horse and rider.
“My thing with it is ‘what you put in is what you get out,’ and the nicer you’re gonna treat these horses, it shows,” Aguirre said.
Aguirre’s horse is named Spartan, and is a left-turn horse; she noted that most horses are right-turn horses (think right-handed people and left-handed people).
“Once we formed a bond, that’s really when we started being competitive in Cody,” Aguirre said.
Aguirre got 10-year-old Spartan in June and he had not been participating in weekly rodeos. Before this summer, he had only been competing in about 10 rodeos a year.
“He got better throughout the season,” Aguirre said.
At the beginning of the year, the duo was placing sixth or seventh. By the end, they had won a couple of nights.
Rodeo is very competitive and Aguirre pointed out that, when it comes to barrel racing, one has to constantly be pushing to be faster because 1/100th of a second could be the difference between you and the person placing above you.
Aguirre said she watches videos of her races in slow motion to analyze where she needs to be better communicating with her horse of what Spartan needs to be doing in respect to speeding up, slowing down and/or making a turn.
“Thinking the tiniest things that I can do to make him a little bit faster,” Aguirre explained.
She said balance and body positioning is important during a run, noting the horse cannot turn going full speed, so it has to slow down.
“So when [you come to a] barrel, you as a rider have to sit back, because that is what the horse’s body is doing,” Aguirre said.
A similar concept is used when a horse is running at full speed — the rider needs to lean up more on the horse so as they can run faster.
“He really came a long way in such a short time, so I am really excited for college rodeo,” Aguirre said of Spartan.
Aguirre wants to compete in rodeo at the collegiate level and plans on majoring in the medical field, with a specific interest in radiology.