Kaylee Hood and Dusty, the horse she rode in Australia

Competing on international stage

by Mike Isle

A year 10 student at Rolleston College is representing New Zealand high schools at rodeo events in New Zealand and Australia where she has gone head-to-head against an Australian team.

Fourteen-year-old Kaylee Hood, whose family has a lifestyle block just outside of Rolleston, was selected for the New Zealand High School Rodeo Team earlier this year in her speciality event, barrel racing.

She competed first in New Zealand against a visiting Australian team and then travelled to Rockhampton, Australia for a return challenge.

“As part of the challenge, we have to borrow horses from the Australian team, and these get drawn out of a hat. I was pretty happy with the horses I drew and was pleased with how the horses ran for me.

“The most challenging part was riding all the different horses and having to quickly adapt my riding style to suit. We had to put so much trust in each horse.”

Kaylee said a personal highlight for her was meeting the people and horses.

“My next steps from here would be to continue training my young horse using the new skills I have learnt from the trip. My ultimate goal is to win a New Zealand Barrel Racing Championship title.”

That may well happen for the young rider. She has been around horses all her life, started rodeo at nine and rodeoing is in the blood; her father still competes, her mother is a former competitor, and her grandfather is heavily involved in the sport.