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The Shawnee News-Star
  • Bethel Acres cowgirl barrel racing in the IFYR

  • Riding a horse she’s had since she was a toddler, Baylee Smith of Bethel Acres is barrel racing in this week’s International Finals Youth Rodeo, where many of her family members also are volunteering.
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  • Riding a horse she’s had since she was a toddler, Baylee Smith of Bethel Acres is barrel racing in this week’s International Finals Youth Rodeo, where many of her family members also are volunteering.
    Having the hometown advantage — plus a large group of family and friends nearby — she’s likely to have good cheering section as well.
    Smith, 15, has been around barrel racing her entire life, although this is first IFYR appearance. Her horse, Gottagettakia, was 2 and Smith was 3 years old when her mother trained the horse.
    And while her horse had some arthritis issues that kept her from competing in the IFYR last year, with medication, she’s running better than ever, Smith said.
    “She’s high maintenance by I love her. We have an incredible bond,” Smith said. “We grew up together…we are an unbreakable team.”
    From the time she was a little girl, Smith said she knew she wanted be involved in barrel racing.
    And while she and Gottagettakia travel all around to different rodeos, this one is really close to home, which means she can keep her horse at home each night where he’s more comfortable.
    “He’s in his prime,” she said about the 15-year-old horse, which has helped her do well at barrel racing and gain two sponsorships.
    In getting ready for a ride, Smith practices with her horse, who also gets “treats before and after our run.”
    And while she admits her horse is “super spoiled,” they work well together. For her, she mentally warms up before a run and thinks about where to push between barrels and when to kick, she said.
    “The adrenaline gets up,” she said.
    Sunday afternoon, Smith, who loves purple and even has some purple bling on her back number of 107, was on the rodeo grounds getting ready for the kick-off of this week’s events, while two other generations in her family were volunteering their time, including the check in of contestants.
    Her parents, Nikki and Tom Smith, and her grandparents, Paul and Sandy Franetovich, are among the many volunteers helping to ensure the rodeo runs smoothly. Smith’s younger brother, Hunter, 10, also will be there with her this week.
    And while she keeps busy with rodeo events, Smith also participates in FFA and manages her time between the two, which sometimes means difficult choices.
    Smith is one of those being interviewed this week for the position of youth director for 2015.
    “I want to be a role model for younger girls,” she said, while encouraging them to give back to heir sport.
    Page 2 of 2 - She will be a junior this fall at Bethel Schools. After graduation, she wants to participate in college rodeos while studying horse-chiropractic care, but wants to compete in professional barrel racing.
     
     
     
     

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