Is your kiddo ready to rope and ride? Have a horse but not sure how to get into youth rodeo? Where do you go? How do you enter?\nRodeo is a very unique athletic event and life sport. It is one of the only competitive activities that the entire family can compete in together, and that children under age 18 can compete in the same event, in the same arena. There are a variety of levels and events to compete at. Whether your child’s goal is to ride at the local gymkhana, compete in the National High School Rodeo Association(NHSRA.com add link) or ultimately ride professionally in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (Link prorodeo.com) at events as big as the Houston Livestock show. There is something for everyone in youth rodeo but, how does one get started?\n \nThe single most important part is building a strong foundation with good guidance and instruction. Whether one is competing in timed, roping or rough stock events, there are a lot of variables and nuances to learn. Safety and solid basics will help ensure a positive experience from day one. Social media has made it a lot easier to connect with coaches, find clinics and get a good idea of what is available in your area. But, one of the best places is the local feed and tack store. This is the hub for nearly every item needed for the horse and competitor in the arena. Traditionally these store fronts have very dedicated and personalized customer service and knowledge of gear. Because rodeo families and those that instruct shop here as well, one can usually find a couple good leads to get your rodeo kid started on the right track.\nThe horse and rider combo is the key component to the success of competition. Finding a horse that matches the ability of your child with the potential for them to grow is the ultimate goal. If you’re just getting started, rely on an experienced rodeo family to help you sort through the sea of options in the market place. Be prepared to look at a lot and don’t be afraid to drive away if it’s not the right one. A been there, done that rodeo horse with a little age, and possibly requires maintenance has proven to be the best thing for a beginner, building confidence in your rider and while teaching them the events.\n\nOnce your team is ready to rodeo, where do you enter? The variety and skill levels of youth rodeo is pretty vast. From walk trot classes at a local gymkhana to youth competing for a million dollars, the journey is up to you. An assessment of where your rodeo athlete is and a set of goals is very beneficial in creating a competition strategy. Spend some time visiting a of variety events as spectators to understand the atmosphere and ideals of the different associations and competitions. Facebook is a great place to search for events in your area. Your new found friends at the feed store can also point you in the right direction. Take a look at national youth associations like the National Little Britches Rodeo Associations (nlbra.com link) or regional rodeos put on by the town arena. Most importantly, don’t be afraid to try several associations to see which one fits your current skill level and needs.\nYouth rodeo is one of the most demanding and rewarding sports you and your child will experience. One not only learns the ins and outs of each unique rodeo event, but rodeo is also deeply entrenched in life skills. From responsibility and accountability to the circle of life, the rodeo arena brings a wealth of knowledge and personal growth to your child. You’re never to young or old to get started in rodeo.