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Rodeo: Alvord senior races the clock for title

By Racey Burden | Published Saturday, June 4, 2017
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Rodeo Star

RODEO STAR – Mikayla Cox of Alvord warms up her horse Keeta. Cox will compete in pole bending at the Texas High School Rodeo State Finals next week. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

Mikayla Cox has loved horses for as long as she can remember.

The Alvord senior wanted to ride a horse for her fourth birthday, and so her grandparents borrowed one.

“She was hooked,” grandmother Cheryl Matthews said. “Every time we went to the store she wouldn’t want a baby doll, she wanted a horse.”

Cox’s obsession continued into her teenage years, and she joined the Alvord High School Rodeo team, taking after her grandfather Charles, who was a rodeo rider in his younger years. Cox made it into the Texas High School Rodeo State Finals as an eighth grader and as a freshman. She’s going back to state this year to compete in pole bending.

“My goal is to make it to nationals,” Cox said. “But I’ll settle for three clean runs.”

The objective of pole bending is to weave a horse in and out of a set of poles in the fastest time – 19 to 20 seconds is good – without hitting any of the poles. The top four state competitors move on to nationals.

Cox is bringing two horses to the competition in Abilene. One of the horses, Keeta, is new to Cox, who traded another horse for the mare just a few months ago.

“She’s stepped up my game,” Cox said.

She’ll also bring her quarter horse Runaway, who she rode in her first two tries at state. Cox trained Runaway herself.

“The horses have to really respond to you, and you have to be a team,” Cox said. “If you go one way and they go the other way, that’s bad.”

Although Cox doesn’t ride until Tuesday and Wednesday of next week, she leaves for state Saturday. She plans to spend her free time watching friends compete. Cox said a lot of the riders are so close they’ll even share horses if one gets injured before an event.

“I’ve made a lot of really good friends,” Cox said. “We call it ‘rodeo family.'”

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