By: Abby Ridgel, Contributing Writer
Malaina Munoz, Centralia High School (CHS) senior, is no stranger to the rodeo scene.
Munoz was introduced to rodeos by her dad and has been participating in rodeos since she was eight years old. She originally started doing rodeos through her local 4-H club and now competes at various rodeos throughout the state.
Munoz rides Quarter Horses, Appendix and Thoroughbred horses when racing.
She mainly competes in two events; those being barrel-racing and pole-bending. Barrel-racing is when the horse and rider weave through three barrels as fast as possible, while being timed. Pole-bending is an event where a horse and rider weave around six poles arranged in a row as fast as possible without knocking them over.
It took Munoz about five months to train the horse she competes with the most. To ensure her horse stays rodeo ready, Munoz continues to train the horse six nights a week. In preparation for each rodeo, Munoz loads all the equipment she will need into the trailer the night before. Once she arrives at the rodeo she will brush and saddle the horses. Then, thirty minutes prior to the event Munoz will go warm up her horses.
Two years ago, Munoz placed in the top ten for the Missouri High School Rodeo Association and last year she placed first all around as the pole-bending and barrel-racing champion at the Ozark Rodeo Association.
Munoz said her favorite thing about rodeos is the people you meet. “People at rodeos will show you who your real friends are and who is going to cheer you on. I also love the adrenaline rush and connection you build with the animal,”said Munoz.
After high school, Munoz would like to continue to compete in rodeos. She hopes to attend college to pursue a career in the medical field and has thought about trying to compete on a college rodeo team.