Pine teenage barrel racer Chelsie Stodghill usually manages to find a way to wiggle out of ticklish situations.
For example, at the 2013 Arizona High School Rodeo Championships June 6-9 in Payson, her horse, Peso, tripped and almost fell while rounding a barrel.
The horse, however, miraculously recovered, allowing Chelsie to finish the run and go on to take third in the state and qualify for the national championships.
A year earlier, on opening day of the 2012 National High School Rodeo Championship, Chelsie’s first attempt was made during a huge storm accompanied by wind, rain and lightning. While some barrel racers might have shied away from making the run, Chelsie finished the attempt and went on to take second in the national championships.
As good as Chelsie has been at escaping adversity, her good fortune ended in the opening round of the barrel racing July 14 at the 2013 National High School Finals Rodeo in the Sweetwater Events Complex in Rock Spring, Wyo.
During her first barrel run, her horse clipped and knocked over a barrel, ending the Payson High School student’s quest to win the national championship, said Gila County 4-H program coordinator Lani Hall.
Chelsie has, however, another barrel run remaining, which means she could win the second go-around.
More than 1,500 competitors from 41 states and five provinces in Canada and Australia competed in the high school finals rodeo. It is the largest rodeo in the world with 13 performances over seven days.
Chelsie was the only PHS student to qualify for the national finals.
Since Chelsie first took up rodeo about six years ago she has competed in other events including team and breakaway roping, but says barrel racing is her preference.
“It always has been my favorite,” she once said.
Although Chelsie and her horse knocked over a barrel in the National High School Finals opening round, she has frequently credited her barrel racing success to Peso, saying the steed is one of the best on the prep circuit.
Stodghill’s PHS teacher and coach, Jadee Rohner, claims the teen is responsible for Peso’s excellence, “Chelsie trained Peso to run barrels and has obviously done a great job.”
But barrel racing is a partnership between rider and horse and Rohner says Chelsie is the perfect partner due to her “hard work and dedication.” She also lauds Chelsie as, “an outstanding young lady.”
At PHS, Stodghill is actively involved in Future Farmers of American and is president of the high school and middle school rodeo club.
Stodghill’s goal is to eventually continue her rodeo career on the collegiate level.