ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – For one Cross Plains family, the rodeo life runs deep.
For 15-year old Haylee King, this year’s Texas High School Rodeo Finals means a little bit more.
In her first year of eligibility, the freshman-now-sophomore qualified to participate in the state finals at the Taylor County Expo Center.
It is no surprise that Haylee made it this far in her first year, as rodeo runs through her veins.
She began the cutting event when she was just 3 years old, coached by her father Josh, who came to the states from Australia and has been a cutting instructor since he was a young man.
On her mother’s side, Haylee’s great-grandfather was legendary cutting instructor Buster Welch, who is an inductee of the Texas Cowboy Hall of Fame.
Haylee’s mother was also a three-time high school national champion in the early ’90s, having back-to-back-to-back championship runs in the cutting event.
Haylee King qualified as a cutter, but also in the reined cow horse event, in which she has never competed.
This event is a combination of cutting skills, while also making the horse perform certain maneuvers like circling the cow and performing a figure-eight pattern.
However, for Haylee, each event requires a different horse, and she did not have a reined cow horse previously.
Luckily, close family friends had one for her to borrow, but with only a week until the finals, there was not a lot of time for preparation.
Within that week, Haylee and her new partner Mustard became a pretty imposing duo, placing within the top six in her night of the rodeo finals.
“That was the first time I had ever placed,” King said. “I just got on there and he did the job he was supposed to. I’m very grateful.”
Haylee and Mustard put on another good showing Friday, and have put themselves in a position to make a run at the National Finals in Lincoln, Nebraska in July.