This is a big week coming up in the life of 12-year-old barrel racer Haillie Taylor, an incoming Wood River Middle School seventh-grade student who will be 13 in October.
Hailey resident Taylor, with the steadfast support of her parents Brad and Kelli, is getting ready to travel to Gallup, N.M. where she will compete in the second annual Wrangler Junior High Finals Rodeo July 10-15.
The nation's top junior high cowboys and cowgirls will vie for national championships and thousands of dollars in college scholarships and prestigious prizes at Gallup.
Haillie has been quite industrious in chasing down sponsorships for her big trip, since the costs will come close to $5,000. She has knocked on doors and made the required introductions and flashed her smile and come up with quite a representation.
Among the local businesses contributing money to Taylor's first-time trip to nationals have been Mountain West Bank, Aqua Pro Spa & Pool, Soundwave, Guffy's, Paradise Paint, Sawtooth Equine, Sawtooth Tack & Feed and Sutton & Sons.
The Taylor family will also benefit from a bake sale/yard sale Thursday, July 6 from 4:30-7 p.m. in the parking lot of Aqua Pro Spa & Pool at 15 East Bullion in Hailey. Hailey's "First Thursday" promotion is this Thursday, so there will be plenty of people out who may choose to take part in the benefit sale for Haillie.
"She's a great, hard-working smart girl," said Kathie Barfuss of Hailey, who works at Aqua Pro Spa & Pool along with the owners, Jeff and Chrissy Smith, and also Haillie's father Brad Taylor.
Although Haillie has competed in the Wrangler Division of the National High School Rodeo Association for two years, this was the first year she was eligible for nationals. The Wrangler division is restricted to sixth, seventh and eighth graders.
This spring, she was the only sixth grader to compete in Fifth District High School Rodeo events for the younger cowgirls, events held at Gooding, Shoshone and Carey. She won the barrel racing in each rodeo.
It was a hectic time of moving into their new digs for the Taylor family during the first week of June, so Haillie had to go by herself to the State Wrangler Junior High Finals June 2-4 at Twin Falls County Fairgrounds in Filer. Her parents were proud of what she achieved.
She was the only student from Blaine County to travel to Filer for state, and the only sixth grader.
Riding her blood bay-colored quarter horse Picabo, Haillie placed second, 14th and third in the three go-rounds to finish fourth overall in barrel racing. Since the top four cowgirls qualified for nationals in New Mexico, she made the grade. But it was touch and go for a while.
"She was fifth overall after the second go and needed to place in the top three in the final go to make the top four. She went out and did it," said her father Brad.
Haillie has two horses and one older brother, 24-year-old Dusty Taylor who served with the U.S. Army in Afghanistan and is now stationed in Germany.
Picabo is eight years old, a 15.3 hands (62 inches tall) quarter horse the family obtained in May 2005. Haillie uses Picabo for barrel racing and pole bending because she is faster and younger than Sweetie, 10, who is 14.3 hands (58 inches), almost the size of a pony. Sweetie is learning breakaway roping, which has much do with when to break the barrier. Haillie likes her because she's sweet.
The Taylor family has high hopes that Picabo and Sweetie are young enough and capable enough horses to stay with Haillie through high school and college competition.
On Saturday, July 8, the Taylors head out with their horse trailer for the long drive to Moab, Utah, and then proceed to Gallup the next day. Registration at Gallup starts Sunday. Haillie is learning about all the paperwork involved and the things that need to be done just to compete.
A total of 41 U.S. states and Canadian provinces are eligible to send finalists to the event, which will be held July 10-15 at Red Rock State Park in Gallup.
Junior high competitors will compete in a variety of classic rodeo events, including junior bull riding, tie-down roping, breakaway roping, goat tying, chute dogging, team roping, ribbon roping, barrel racing, pole bending, and goat tying.
Haillie's event is barrel racing. The top 20 students in each event will qualify for the championship Final Go-Round performance on Saturday, July 15. Visit the Web site at nhsrawranglerdivision.org.
She has high ambitions. Haillie wants to improve enough over the next year so she can challenge this year's Idaho Wrangler Junior all-around cowgirl and top rookie Kimbryn Fehringer of American Falls, also an incoming seventh grader.