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Rodeo a family affair

Rodeo a family affair
Kate Haugh competing in the Taupo National finals in 2021. PHOTO DENISE FLAY

Rodeo is in the blood for Kate Haugh's family.

Seven family members across three generations will be competing at this weekend's Methven Rodeo, including two-time national team rope champion Kate.

The Geraldine rider says the youngest family member to compete is six, and the oldest is 75.

Kate grew up travelling to rodeos around New Zealand with her parents.

“I’ve been riding since I could walk and competing in rodeo since I was 14 – so 30 years.

“Growing up we had people at home most weekends training.”

As a youngster, Kate had to compete against adults but NZ Rodeo now has junior events to cater for youth development.

“Our kids are very lucky to have the opportunity to develop their skills in junior events before they progress to the adult competition.”

Kate will be competing in the open barrel race and breakaway roping, and will team up with Elizabeth Hampton for the team roping event.

Within her immediate family, husband Ben has entered the team roping and rope and tie. Daughter Hannah is in the junior barrel race, and eldest daughter, Bianca, has entered the junior barrel race, junior breakaway and open team roping.

The biggest appeal of rodeo was the supportive nature of the sport and the ability for the whole family to share horses and all compete, Kate said.

“We can fly to North Island rodeos and know that our competitor friends will kindly share their good horses.

“New Zealand rodeo is unique. While we compete against each other we are keen for each other to compete successfully.

“Rodeo teaches kids good sportsmanship and stockmanship from a young age."

Kate has won two team roping national titles as a heeler with her brother, Patrick McCarthy.

“Team roping is the only event in rodeo you compete as a team. The header catches the horns end and the heeler attempts to catch both back legs.

“This weekend, our eldest daughter Bianca is heeling for my father Pat. It’s pretty awesome to have a grandfather-granddaughter combination compete together.”

Kate’s family aim to make the national finals each year – and to do that they need to make it into the top eight in the event for the season.

“Maintaining fitness and providing variation is great for competition horses. It helps the horse improve its strength, flexibility, co-ordination, and understanding of the rider’s cues.

“We need our competition horses focused and responsive as we are riding at speed and often with one hand!”

Kate aimed to fit in a couple of rope sessions a week, but that wasn’t always possible with family, work commitments and the weather.

“I continue to attend coaching clinics. We have some very talented Kiwis who share their knowledge and skills - and we have had some great roping and barrel racing clinics by Canadian, American and Australian competitors. We can never stop learning.”

While Methven is packing away the ski boots, helmets and goggles for the season, cowboy boots, chaps and Stetson hats will be in fashion for longer than usual.

Methven is set to host a second rodeo this season with the national competition coming to town on March 23 next year.

The Methven rodeo kicks off this Sunday at 9am on Barkers Road with a near record number of riders, handlers and cowboys and girls amped to show their skills.

Methven Rodeo Club secretary Rosa Dekker said there were 336 entries including 228 in the timed event rides.

A new event has been added for this year - breakaway roping.

This is a variation of rope and tie where a rider ropes a calf, but it is not thrown and tied.

Tickets for Sunday's event cost $10 for children, $20 for adults, or $50 for a family pass and are available to purchase on the day.

By Sharon Davis