By Evamarie Socha
The Daily Item
MIFFLINBURG — Rebecca Haines was 6 when she first got on a horse. All her friends were riding and doing junior rodeos, and she wanted to be part of the action.
Who knew there was an adrenaline junkie in that little body?
“I like the adrenaline and the speed,” said a laughing Rebecca, now 11 and a sixth-grader at the Mifflinburg Area Middle School. “I really enjoy the barrels” and winding her horse around them in competitions and rodeos.
Come Friday, Rebecca will get her turn at barrels as well as goat tying and breakaway — not things she’s unfamiliar with, but it will be the first time Rebecca shows her stuff at the Pennsylvania Farm Show.
The event, among the nation’s largest indoor agricultural expositions, starts Saturday and runs through Jan. 15 at the Farm Show Complex & Expo Center in Harrisburg. It includes 6,000 animals, 10,000 competitive exhibits and 300 commercial exhibits.
But the young rodeo riders enter the arena Friday for some events. For Rebecca, those will be goat-tying runs and a barrel run.
On Saturday, she has another barrel run and two breakaway runs.
And she cannot wait.
“I’m so excited,” she said. “There will be a big crowd there, and I’ll get to see a lot of friends again.”
Rebecca said she gets a lot of advice from friends, both local and from elsewhere in Pennsylvania, about competing and riding. She practices often with her friend, Rebecca Darrup, a sophomore at Mifflinburg Area High School who made her Farm Show junior rodeo debut last year. She too will be in the arena this weekend.
Don’t let Rebecca’s petite frame fool you. She’s gathered a number of titles already, including Keystone Junior Rodeo 2011 Reserve champion, 2011 KJRA barrel champion and 2011 KJRA reserve goat-tying champion.
But the Farm Show is special, she said, simply because it’s the Farm Show.
“I’ve always wanted to do this, “ Rebecca said.
Glenda Haines, Rebecca’s mom, is excited, too, for her daughter to be in the Farm Show. But she doesn’t always keep an eye on her daughter in the arena.
“It kind of scares me sometimes,” Glenda said. Indeed, the kids and horses are like rockets when they come out of their shoots, and it’s amazing to watch them handle the animals as well as they do.
“The horses she has, they do take care of her,” Glenda said. “I’ll probably watch at the Farm Show.”
Rebecca will ride two horses: For barrels, it’s Pharaoh, a 10-year-old appendix quarter horse on which she learned how to ride (the barrels came later). For breakaway and goat-tying, she’ll ride Jaylo, a 4-year-old quarter horse.
And regardless of how Rebecca does, Glenda is glad for what her daughter learns by taking part in these competitions. Rebecca has had to collect a number of sponsors, for instance. All competitors do. She also must submit regular grade reports and manage her time to be at required meetings.
“The discipline she learns, plus skills like sportsmanship and camaraderie, I like all of what this is teaching her,” Glenda said.