Tonight’s Boots, Bulls and Barrels rodeo is a very special event put on by the Silver Spurs Riding Club.
It’s not part of the regular circuits, more of “cash grab” for the older competitors and a chance to get better for the junior cowboys and cowgirls.
The field of riders and racers, who actually started competing Friday night, is a mix of the best of the region and more recreational rodeo competitors.
Younger and older and everything in between — there will be about 100 barrel racers — they make the third installment of Boots, Bulls and Barrels a must-ride if possible.
Tabatha Sellers, 25, a student a Polk State College in Lakeland, is here for the first time. She wanted to come last year but didn’t have a horse ready to be competitive. This will be her first competition in the Silver Spurs Arena despite coming from just 40 miles away to compete.
Horses have been a part of her family and her entire life, and racing barrels, something she’s done since she was 12, is something she works around school, work and home. She competes around the state; and has a couple events lined up in Jacksonville later this year.
“This has always been a passion, and my husband totally supports me,” she said. “I’ve got a few more races lined up the rest of this year.”
It’s been a good season for Sellers and Cutters Bold Angel, one of two she’s brought to Kissimmee to compete on.
“She’s done really well of lately, more that paid for her entries,” Tabitha said a couple hours ahead of Friday’s first-go. “I say ‘she’ instead of ‘we’ because she does all the work. I’m still learning to ride her, because she’s an aggressive racer.”
Her goals this weekend? Put it this way, she hopes to be busy on Saturday night here in Kissimmee rather than back home in Lakeland.
“I just want a good, clean. solid run,” she said.
Then there’s 13-year-old Sara Hendrix from Kenansville, who got out of school at 4:20 Friday afternoon, and was at the Silver Spurs by 5:30, ready to get checked in and her barrel horse, Shug. up to speed.
The eighth-grader has been on a horse “since I could walk”, and has competed “for the past few years.”
Her schedule is kind of a blur, since she also competes in pole bending, the rodeo equivalent of slalom skiing, and goat tying.
“I competed here the first year of this, and I like it because it’s local and great practice for me,” Hendrix said. “Shug has run in this pen plenty and knows it pretty well, so I’m hoping to do pretty well this weekend.”
Hendrix competes in the All Florida Junior Rodeo Association, and has an impressive collection of saddles, buckles and such, the trophy case of the junior rodeo circuit. She last raced in the Silver Spurs in the Junior Circuit Finals back in June.
She’ll be one of the youngest competitors and Boots, Bulls and Barrels, but as the youngest in her class as well, she’s used to it.
“If you place, they treat you like equals,” she said. “The ones who want to treat you like ‘the little kid,’ I just ignore them.”
Saturday runs begin at 10 a.m. Saturday. The top qualifiers will race for the top prizes in Saturday night’s 7:30 session.
Tickets for Boots, Bulls, and Barrels are on sale at SilverSpursRodeo.com or at the box office at Osceola Heritage Park in Kissimmee.