Marilyn Melvin finally gets a break on Sundays.
“We’re tired after a rodeo. We go to church and after we clean house and still ride a couple of horses,” Melvin explains.
What she describes as a “light day” is a sharp contrast from hours in the saddle on as many as 10 horses.
“It’s all day,” she said. “In the summer, we don’t do anything but ride.”
But it’s that tireless work ethic that has the recent Paradise graduate competing for titles at the International Youth Rodeo Finals in Shawnee, Okla., July 6-11 and the National High School Finals Rodeo in Rock Springs, Wyo., July 13-19.
“The IFYR is the highest youth rodeo in the world. Then I’ll go to nationals,” Melvin said. “I’ll be gone three to four weeks.”
At the IFYR event, she’ll compete in four events – barrel racing, pole bending, goat tying and breakaway roping. She’ll be competing in cutting in Wyoming.
“My goal is to win the all-around [at IFYR]. It’s hard with all the factors that go into rodeo,” said Melvin. Roping at the state rodeo finals, she experienced that firsthand when a calf broke the wrong way, giving her a no-time. “You just go out and do as good as you can.”
Her main goal at the IFYR is to bring home a title in the breakaway roping.
“I love roping. It’s my favorite,” she said.
But she works hard at all the disciplines to bring home more hardware. She’s quick to point out there are no shortcuts to success. She credits her parents – Judy and Marty – with teaching her a strong work ethic.
“You work, work and work. You can buy a truck, trailer and horses, but you can’t buy first place,” Melvin said. “You can buy a saddle but it’s not the same as winning.”
Melvin admits she spreads herself thin, competing in all the various events.
“It’s crazy. I won a trailer, and it doesn’t hold all the horses I need in a rodeo,” she claims.
She needs as many as six horses to compete in all the events. She and her 16-year-old sister, Katlyn, share some of the horses.
Between competing, practicing, training horses and helping her parents run their ranching operation, Melvin keeps a busy schedule.
“It’s a full-time thing. It’s all I do. I don’t hang out with friends except at rodeos,” Melvin said. “But I love it.”
Even though horses have surrounded her all her life, Melvin said her parents made her wait to jump into rodeo with both feet until she was in eighth grade.
“They let us choose. This is what I’m best at,” Melvin said.
As a freshman and sophomore, Melvin ran cross country and played basketball.
“I loved that, but you can spread yourself too thin and be mediocre – and never get anywhere,” Melvin said.
Her junior year, she home-schooled to give herself a more flexible schedule so she could compete in rodeo.
She returned to high school as a senior but said she was done each day early in the afternoon to get back to the family’s ranch to work.
But she took her studies seriously, graduating with a 4.2 grade-point average.
After a busy summer of competing, Melvin will head to Weatherford College to join the rodeo team.
“I’ll rodeo for them in the National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association,” Melvin said.
She hopes to get her associate degree as the first step to an eventual doctorate to become an anesthesiologist.
“I know how hard it will be,” she said. “I’ve set my goals high.”
Melvin knows she’ll likely have to take a break from riding when she enters med school. But she isn’t thinking about that now.
“I’ve still got five years,” Melvin said.
For now, she’ll be working on winning more saddles and buckles – even on Sundays.