High school student heading to national rodeo competition

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BENT MOUNTAIN, Va. (WDBJ) -- When you think of rodeos, you probably think of cowboys.

Kendall Hamm with her beloved horse, Blue, as she prepares for a national rodeo competition.

Meet a high school girl in Virginia who's making big strides on the rodeo circuit.

It's easy to see the close bond between Kendall Hamm and her horse, Blue. The rising Floyd County High School senior says horses are part of her family's tradition.

But it was a trip to see the Salem Rodeo that spurred her own interest in riding.

"I've always loved horses. They've always been just kind of an outlet. When I saw barrel racing, I just really wanted to do it," says Hamm.

Hamm started rodeoing three years ago.

Just like any sport, it takes a lot of practice. She says she rides about four or five days a week.

"Yeah, you definitely have to give up a lot of other activities with your friends, because you have to come home. You have to feed and make sure they're taken care of really well. I spend most of my weekends on the road traveling to and from places. So, there's been a lot of friends' time cut out, " she says.

All that practice is paying off.

Hamm's qualified to compete later this month in Barrel Racing and Pole Bending events at the National High School Finals Rodeo in Wyoming.

While rodeoing is still a male-dominated sport, Hamm has advice for other girls interested in taking their turn in the saddle: Just do it.

"There's a lot of riding programs. Not as much rodeo programs. But just anything with a horse is really nice to have. I started off just hunter jumping and jumping horses and all that," she said.

Hamm wants to rodeo as long as she can. As for her career, she wants that to involve horses, too.

"I was looking into things like therapeutic things with horses, getting a degree in therapy and having kids come who aren't as privileged and just getting to spend some time with the horse and getting to build a bond that I'm privileged to have," says Hamm.

You can learn more about the Virginia High School Rodeo Association on the link next to this story.

Read the original version of this article at wdbj7.com.