The Eastern New Mexico State Fairgrounds was filled with celebration and a feeling of accomplishment Thursday, as the awards ceremony was held for the Chaves County 4-H & FFA Fair.
One by one, youth who took part in livestock contests rose and walked up to the dais to the sound of thunderous applause, as they were handed the glistening belt buckles or trophies they had earned.
Sophie Jones, 11, of Roswell, was among the pantheon of winners called up before the crowd, as she was presented with a belt buckle as winner of the All-Around 2019 Novice for taking part in the rodeo at this year’s fair.
This year, she entered the arena with her 17-year old horse Sugar Babe and impressed the judges and crowds with her showing.
It was not Jones’ first rodeo, although it was her first 4-H rodeo.
She and Sugar Babe have competed in rodeos for the last five years in the Roswell area, receiving the 3-D Champion Barrel Racer award a few years ago during a rodeo at a church in Midway.
Though her awards are not many so far, Jones said that when she does win, she feels great pride. Jones has ridden horses for the past 7 years, and she rides often.
“I ride her (Sugar Babe) every evening, but I practice with my coach at least once a week, and I ride just for fun and practice a little bit every evening,” Jones said.
Despite the reputation of rodeos as a rough and tumble boys club that entails great risk, Jones said she is not frightened when she enters the arena.
“It’s pretty fun and exciting, because like, you are on an animal that has a mind of its own, but you can control it and all that stuff, so it is actually really exciting,” she said.
Breaking news reporter Alex Ross can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 301, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.