Hastings cowgirl looks to keep rodeo alive

HASITNGS, Neb. (KSNB) - Young cowboys and cowgirls are in Hastings for a state rodeo competition, but one doesn't have to travel too far.

Caitlin Tibbs, Hastings rodeo competitor, practices for the Nebraska State High School Finals Rodeo. (Source: Kelsey Dickeson, KSNB)

Caitlin Tibbs, a future senior at Adams Central, qualified for the Nebraska State High School Finals Rodeo for the first time this year. She'll compete in pole bending and barrel riding events.

"My family has a long history of rodeoing," Tibbs said. "That's always inspired me. I'd always go watch my uncle go rope or ride."

Tibbs said she's been riding as long as she can remember. She started riding competitively about four years ago, and practices every day for about three hours.

As a fourth generation rodeo competitor, Tibbs said she wants to keep the family tradition alive and maybe inspire others to try the sport along the way.

"It's kind of apart of our heritage. When we first came here we were all farmers and ranchers, and we'd have to rope and brand. It's just something to keep alive what we use to have," Tibbs said.

Her dad helps her train and break in their horses. Tibbs will ride two of their three horses in the rodeo this weekend.

She'll ride their newest horse, Apollo, in the pole bending event. Tibbs said they got him two years ago. It took several months for him to get use to her.

"It's really nice to see that. A lot more kids aren't doing the horse thing. The more we can get involved the better off we are," said Dustin Tibbs, her dad.

This is the 19th year the rodeo will be at the Adams County Fairgrounds. There'll be more than 250 high school students from across Nebraska competing to secure a spot in nationals.

There's 12 events this year. They include; bareback riding, saddle bronc riding, tie-down roping, steer wrestling, team roping, breakaway roping, goat tying, pole bending, barrel racing, boys cutting, girls cutting and bull riding.

The competitors need to maintain good grades in order to compete. Another big part of the competition is building a relationship with their horses, who are also their teammates.

"They also learn to care for animals. What they need to do and how to work with them, and how to help them to be the best that they are too," said Trish Hinrichs, rodeo event chair.

Tibbs said her goal is to finish in the top 20.

The rodeo will kick off Thursday at 7:30 a.m. with girls and boys cutting. The other events will start at 10 a.m.

The top four competitors in each event will advance to nationals.