High school rodeo makes its way to Santa Ynez

High school rodeo makes its way to Santa Ynez


The Santa Ynez Valley Equestrian Association has long been a pillar in the equestrian community, providing riders of all disciplines with the opportunity to enjoy a sport for which the valley is known. Staying true to that purpose, the Equestrian Association will sponsor two California High School Rodeo Association events in 2009.

Founded in 1970, the National High School Rodeo Association is a nationwide program designed to get high school students involved and interested in rodeo activities. The program is open to high school students who meet certain grade point and conduct requirements.

In California, competitors participate in one of nine different districts. Students in the Santa Ynez valley compete in district number seven along with students from Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo, and Ventura counties.


California High School Rodeo has nine events scheduled throughout the 2008-2009 year, which will determine which participants advance to the state finals held every June in Bishop. Students who qualify at the state finals are then asked to represent California at the national finals in Farmington, N.M.

High School Rodeo requires students to demonstrate their skills in areas such as barrel racing, pole bending, calf roping, and steer wrestling. According to Santa Ynez Valley Equestrian Association Executive Director David Hunsicker, a lot of work has been done to bring High School Rodeo to Santa Ynez.

“For the past seven or eight months we’ve put a lot of emphasis on developing our center to accommodate High School Rodeo,” he said.


In the past, most of the events scheduled for competitors in district seven have taken place at Creston Rodeo Grounds or the Madonna Inn in San Luis Obispo. However, having to travel for every competition can be a burden for local participants. Hunsicker also mentioned that “many of these facilities are not as appropriate as Santa Ynez Valley Equestrian Association.”

After months of coordinating and planning, the equestrian association will host two California High School Rodeo competitions on April 18 and May 9. Members of the community are encouraged to come witness some of the finest high school rodeo competitors in the state compete for a coveted spot at the state finals.

For Hunsicker, bringing this activity to the valley seemed the natural thing to do.


“High School Rodeo is something we really want to support because it represents that western way of life that we want to perpetuate,” he explained.

The National High School Rodeo Association also has a program for students in grades six through eight who wish to participate in rodeos. The Wrangler Junior High Division ultimately aims to prepare students to compete in High School Rodeo.

Students interested in competing in High School Rodeo should contact membership secretary Janell Bilkey at (805) 688-4593.

For more information on High School Rodeo and Junior High School Rodeo, visit the California High School Rodeo Association website at http://www.chsra.com.