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The Shawnee News-Star
  • Comanche cowgirl competing despite losing part of finger

  • After an unusual accident on July 4, Comanche cowgirl Whitney Hall lost part of her left index finger and is still recovering, but that obstacle isn’t stopping her from competing in the International Finals Youth Rodeo.


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  • After an unusual accident on July 4, Comanche cowgirl Whitney Hall lost part of her left index finger and is still recovering, but that obstacle isn’t stopping her from competing in the International Finals Youth Rodeo.

    Hall, 17, will make her first IFYR appearance in breakaway roping, and she’ll be doing it with parts of her left hand in bandages and probably with a little bit of pain. But she has adapted her roping technique in the days since the accident and is determined to do her best this week despite the limitations with her left hand.
    The accident occurred as she and her family worked a fundraiser selling tea and water at their town’s firefighter booth during Independence Day festivities. With a huge tank full of icy water, two friends, in a bit of horseplay, thought it would be fun to dunk her in the tank at the end of the night, Hall said.
    But she wasn’t going in without a fight and grabbed the string of a nearby shade tent. But a part of it wrapped around her finger and just snapped.
    As a result, she lost the top of her left index finger, just below the nail and before her first knuckle. While she is right handed, she uses the left hand to hold her rope.
    With bone exposed, she needed surgery to the top part of the finger. Luckily, she said she had enough finger pad for stitches and to avoid a skin graft, but she’ll never have a fingernail again. Despite the traumatic injury, the only thing she could think about was how she would rope.
    “The doctor said absolutely no roping for a month or so,” she said, adding that the doctor said it could bust the stitches.
    But Hall couldn’t accept that or let it deter her.
    “I hate to tell you, but I’m going to rope,” she said was her response, adding her finger really hasn’t hurt that bad.
    And because she only has true use of one hand right now, she said her mom has to help her bathe and dress, but she knows she can rope.
    On her first attempt in practice with a bandage keeping her index finger and thumb together, “I roped two calves right out of the box.”
    “I think I’m ready,” she said.
    Before being hurt, she would hold her rope between her thumb and index finger, but with bandages, she’s doing it a bit different and using her pinky finger more.
    Her horse, Pumpkin, also has a sense to help and take care of her. Pumpkin would normally prance around the box before a run, Hall said, but now she’s gently easing in and standing there as if she knows Hall is injured.
    Page 2 of 2 - Because it was an accident, Hall kept her sense of humor and later told the guys involved that, “It was a good try, but you didn’t get me in the water.”
    And if the finger injury hasn’t been hard enough to overcome, Hall has personal ties to a recent tragedy in her hometown.
    Her good friend, Braylee Henry, 16, was murdered when she went into a Velma convenience store. The store clerk has been arrested and charged in the case.
    “She just stopped in to get a coke,” she said. “We have all been in that store.”
    The loss has been difficult for Hall and yet she hopes to honor Braylee somehow by persevering and doing well this week. She even has a ribbon with Braylee’s name on her saddle.
    When asked how she’s been able to endure so much and still ride, Hall said, “It’s been God – that’s all I can say.”
    Hall has been participating in rodeos for three years, but her love of roping started more out of necessity – and fun - as her family has a large ranching operation. With her dad roping cows, “I learned how to cowboy rope,” she said. And since her dad works with cutting horses, she learned to do that too and has been competing in cutting events.
    Hall, who will be a senior this fall at Velma-Alma High School, wants to go to college and continue to rodeo.
    She is wearing back number 267 and will be one to watch this week.
    Hall ran a 2.6 in Monday’s breakaway roping competition, only .4 off of the the leader.
    And no matter how she does at the IFYR this week, she’ll be off to the national finals next weekend to compete in cutting events there.

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