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Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Nice story on my granddaughter

RC Journal today.

There aren’t many sporting events in which an entire family can participate — often competing in the very same events.

Rodeo families can. Brooke Howell is a happy member of just such a rodeo family.
The Belle Fourche High School all-around athlete is coming off a summer rodeo season in which she spent lots of weekend time on the road riding and roping with parents, Guy and Shanna Howell, and sisters Bridget, 18; Shayla, 14; and Shyanne, 10.

“In the springtime it’s high school rodeo, and then come summer it’s a lot of jackpots and some youth rodeos we’ve gone to since we were little,” said Howell, a junior who, in addition to a very active rodeo schedule, also competes in basketball and track.

“And then this summer I competed in my first Northwest Rodeo Cowboys Association (NRCA) rodeo in July," she said. "And since then we’ve gone to rodeos just about every weekend.”

And very successful weekends at that as the 16-year-old Howell currently sits atop the ladies rookie standings. That's no small feat as the NRCA circuit features many of the top college and high school rodeo performers from South and North Dakota, Nebraska, Wyoming and Montana.

“We had a little pony I first learned to ride on," Howell said. "I was put on a horse so young I can’t even remember, and then at two or three, I began to ride by myself in a round corral.

“I learned to rope when I was about eight. My dad is my number one coach and he and mom are the people I look up to in rodeo since they are both accomplished rodeo athletes," she said.

The summer successes topped off a year of notable accomplishments as Howell began the summer in winning style sharing a South Dakota High School Rodeo team championship with her Belle Fourche High School teammates — placing fourth in breakaway roping and fifth in pole bending — and earning her second trip to the National High School Finals Rodeo in Rock Springs, Wyo., in July where she placed 46th in breakaway roping.

“We knew pretty sure we were up there when the winners were being announced, but when we heard we had won we were pretty stoked,” Howell said. “And to be able to share an experience like that as a team was really special.”

Not surprisingly, Howell comes from a distinguished rodeo family. her father, Guy, is a former PRCA Badlands and Mountain States Circuit team roping champion. Her mother, Shanna, is a two-time South Dakota high school goat tying champion (1984, 1986) while at Belle Fourche and was on the University of Wyoming 1990 national championship team.

Nor is Brooke the only athletic standout in the Brooke household. Bridget, a Belle Fourche senior, is also an accomplished rodeo athlete. She won the pole bending event at Nisland County Fair rodeo in August while Brooke was copping top honors in barrels and goat tying.

Shayla qualified for the South Dakota State Track finals in sprints as a seventh-grader, and 10-year-old Shyanne is most likely simply waiting in the wings.

“Rodeo is a way of life for us and something we all to look forward to,” Shanna Howell said from the family ranch near Colony, Wyo., where, in addition to ranching, the family runs an outfitting operation and Guy conducts roping schools.

“We’ve learned to kind of blend our vacation time, our travel time, and our hobby time together and we know it’s not always a sure thing and won’t last forever," she said, "And so, when it comes to rodeo, we’ve been very blessed.”

The family also raises and trains horses. Guy Howell singled out Brooke’s special knack for developing a special horse/rider relationship as a key to her rodeo success.

“She is able to get performances out of a horse that maybe somebody else couldn’t get out of them,” Howell said. “That, and the determination it takes to be willing to spend time and get to know and have a feel for the animal as well and from that, knowing when you can push them and get more work out of them and when you can’t, and to some extent those are God-given talents.”

Being busy in the rodeo arena is nothing new to Brooke Howell, who competes in barrel racing, breakaway roping, pole bending and goat tying and wouldn’t mind finding a good cutting horse as well.

“It makes for a busy day, but it’s fun, too. I really like all the roping events," she said. "Those are a lot of fun, but I have really good barrel and pole horses, so that makes them fun, too. I guess it comes down to me liking whatever event I’m competing in at the time."

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