Barrel racer rides for NZ
Taking the Aussies on
When rodeo fanatic Caitlin McPherson represents her country this month she won’t sporting a slick black uniform.
The champion barrel racer is sticking to her jeans, checkered shirt and, you guessed it, rodeo boots.
She took the sport up as a tough spirited four- year- old and has pretty much lived in those famous boots ever since.
But as they say, dedication and hard work pays off and the talented Lichfield teenager has been selected to represent New Zealand in the High School Rodeo Challenge in Australia.
The 16-year-old tom-boy is one of 12 racers nationwide who will head across the Tasman on August 29 to compete in the first of three battles against their Australian rivals.
How it all began is a bit of a blur for McPherson whose mother tells her she was on horseback by the age of 2.
She quickly mastered the art of racing a cloverleaf pattern around three barrels as quickly as possible.
Yet it wasn’t until 2009, when she came runner- up in the national junior barrelling title, that she realised she had a bit of knack for it.
‘‘The next year I won it,’’ she said.
Last season she ranked up from junior to second division where she needed to win a total of $2000 to rank up to open.
With rather full pockets for a teenager she admitted she ‘‘didn’t stay in there for very long’’.
She said once you break into open you remain there for the rest of your barrel racing career which McPherson hopes will be a long one.
Her only disappointment was that the race is over within 17 seconds.
Aside from the uniform, there were a few other quirky elements to the unorthodox sport.
‘‘If you don’t have your hat on at the end then when you go to pick it up you have to give a gold coin donation. So I just wear a helmet.’’
Those are the sort of smarts that will serve her well when she heads off to Australia to represent her country.
She said she had great support with a $250 donation from both Putaruru and Tokoroa Farmlands and a $500 grant from the South Waikato SuperSports Trust.
Caitlin McPherson is fearless when on the barrel racing track.