Horsing Around at the International Finals Youth Rodeo

From rodeo arena to movie star

Haley Ganzel excels not only in the rodeo arena but in front of the movie camera, too. The 17 year old Collinsville, Okla. cowgirl, who is competing at the International Finals Youth Rodeo in Shawnee, Oklahoma, found a new role last month as a movie star.

Haley Ganzel (Photo by Phifer/Rodeobum.com)

She was a trick rider in the movie Cowgirls ‘N Angels, which was filmed in Oklahoma and was released to major movie theaters last month. Haley played Rose, one of the trick riders in the movie, and even though she had never acted before, had five or six lines.

Haley competes in the breakaway roping at the IFYR, is also a trick rider, performing dangerous horse riding stunts such as the hippodrome, the liberty stand, and the Cossack death drag. The cowgirl learned the art from her uncle, a professional trick rider, and in addition to her competition as a breakaway roper and barrel racer, also trick rides at rodeos across the region.

She loves both disciplines. “They’re two totally different rushes. Trick riding is definitely an adrenaline rush, a crowd pleaser. I love the entertainment.” But she loves the roping and barrel racing, too. “I love the competition, too.”

This is her third time to compete at the IFYR. She will be a senior at Collinsville High School this fall. After graduation, she hopes to attend college on a rodeo scholarship. She would like to become an equine surgeon and continue her trick riding and competition.

There’s more to life than rodeo.

Just ask Jasper, Texas cowboy Matt Morian.

A pool party at the Morian trailer during the IFYR. (Photo by Siri Stevens, Rodeo News)

Matt and his parents and younger sister Sydni are spending the week at the International Finals Youth Rodeo in Shawnee, Okla., and when Matt isn’t competing in the steer wrestling and team roping, he’s cooling off in the pool set up near his family’s trailer.

It’s hot in Shawnee, Matt reports, and the pool is great entertainment. “I like to show off my swan diving skills off the nose of the trailer,” he jokes. “It’s fun to float around.”

This is Matt’s first year of competition at the world’s richest youth rodeo, and he’s serious about his rodeo, but he’s also serious about his fun. The 17 year old cowboy also competes in the Texas High School Rodeo Association, finishing as Region 5 Steer Wrestling Champion this year.

But there is more to life than rodeo for Matt. He keeps his grades up, per his parents’ request. “I have to keep them up or I wouldn’t be here (at the rodeo.) Academics come first.” He wants to earn a political science degree with a minor in business and go on to law school. “I want to provide for my kids, if I have any, the same way my father has done for me.”

Matt turned in two solid runs in the steer wrestling but even if he doesn’t make the short go, that’s fine by him. Life is good. “I like to live life. I have a good time. I’m a happy person.”

Country kids from Virginia

Virginia cowboy Charlie Barefoot III. (Photo by RodeoBum.com/IFYR)

It took Charlie Barefoot and Michael Tash about 24 hours to drive to the IFYR, but it was worth it. The cousins, who hail from Dinwiddie, Virginia, are the only two contestants from Virginia competing at this year’s IFYR.

It’s Charlie’s first year to compete at the IFYR, and he’s been wanting to come for several years. He competes in the steer wrestler, calf roper and team roper, roping with his cousin.

He will be a senior at Dinwiddie High School, where he is a member of the FFA, plays on the golf team, and was recipient of the Academic Achievement Award last year.

Charlie has enjoyed his time at the IFYR. “It’s nice, it pays good, and it’s fun.” He’s made new friends, and renewed friendships with people he hadn’t seen since the National Junior High Finals Rodeo.

For fun, Charlie likes to rope and golf, but Shawnee’s summertime temperatures have discouraged his golf game. “I’m not playing golf in the heat like this. I’m a fair weather golfer. Above 85 (degrees) and I’m not going.”

After high school, he hopes to attend college in Texas so he can rodeo. He’d like to earn an agricultural business and animal science degree. He’d also like to be a pro rodeo champion and own a rodeo stock contracting business. “My all time goal is to be the next Trevor Brazile or Cody Ohl (pro rodeo world champions.)” But he’s realistic about his goals. “Not everybody can do that, so I have to have something to fall back on. With stock contracting, I can still be involved in rodeo.”

The IFYR wraps up its second go-round competition the morning of July 13. The top twelve contestants in each event return for the short go-round on the evening of July 13, when champions will be crowned in each event.

For more information, visit http://www.ifyr.com/