Local pole bender Haley Resch left the National Junior High School Rodeo Finals with a smile on her face.
From June 18-24 in Perry, Georgia, Resch joined 25 others on Team Alberta to compete against the best in the world.
Of the 165 pole benders who qualified and competed for the rodeo, Resch finished 16th in the world. She was also just one of five members of Team Alberta who finished in the top 20 in their respective events.
The 14-year-old from just south of Delburne told The Advocate there were plenty of highs and lows but explained it was more than the results but rather the overall experience.
She was also excited about the performance from 20-year-old horse Doc has been in the family for 17 years.
“I was really happy with our standings and how we did,” she said. “Doc is definitely really special. He’s got a ton of heart and there’s not a mean bone in his body… He’s pretty much a family member.”
Doc was also named the National Junior High School Foundation Equine Athlete of the Year.
“We spent a lot of time at home doing slow work… Having a bond with your horse is super important because sometimes if there is no bond they can be not great to work with,” she added.
This was Resch’s second time competing in the Nationals and this year set a goal to run more consistent times and this year accomplished that goal. The key to pole bending she said is a lot of speed but there are plenty of other factors that go into a perfect run including agility.
She’s been around rodeo her whole life because of her dad who competed for many years. Once he mentioned she should give it a try she began competing at 11 years old and hasn’t looked back since.
And looking back to when she first started she never imagined she’d be competing in a national competition.
“I love rodeo because of the friends you meet along the way and the sport has always just been a part of my interests. I like everything with horses,” she said.
The National Junior Rodeo Finals was a dream trip for Resch which had competitors from the United States, Canada, Mexico, and Australia.
Other athletes on Team Alberta include Brodi Beasley, Molly Becker, Christian Bevans, Jonas Carr, Rance Coates, Dallan Crossland, Steele Duncan, Stran Edge, Grace Flaherty, Whip Gertner, William Hale, Ellie Havens, Grace Havens, Keston Humbke, Rylan Keith, Lena Kronschnabl, Lane McKinstry, Jackson Nichol, Hadley Schiffner, Calvin Scott, Kennedy Smith, Teytan Thomson, Walker Thomson, Suttyn Volz, and Huck Watson.
Up next for Resch is the Canadian High School Rodeo Finals in August in Brandon, Man where Resch will compete in goat tying and pole bending.