Moody Siblings Push Each Other to Excel in Rodeo
By Lura Roti, for SDFU
Each summer, South Dakota Farmers Union feeds hundreds of rodeo athletes and their families during the South Dakota High School Rodeo Finals in Belle Fourche. Read on to learn more about one of the many families who will compete during the June 11-16 event.
Peering through the arena fence, 8-year-old Mason Moody couldn’t wait to rodeo.
“I always wanted to be a rodeo cowboy. My older sisters were in the arena and I wanted to be in the arena with them,” explains the youngest member of the Moody family.
After his ninth birthday, he finally got his chance to compete in 4-H Rodeo. Like his three older sisters, Logan, Bailey and Madi, he was hooked.
Now 16, his sisters will be outside the arena cheering him on during the State High School Rodeo Finals. Mason recently qualified to compete in bull riding, team roping and calf roping during the June 11-16, 2019 event held in Belle Fourche.
“Winning takes a lot of practice and work in our homemade arena,” Mason explains. “Whenever there is a free moment, we saddle up, get on a horse and practice roping.”
In fact, Mason and his sisters spend anywhere from two to six hours each day practicing. And their efforts have paid off. All four siblings have qualified for the National Finals Rodeo. “We are all passionate about rodeo,” says Bailey, 21, a Dakota State University elementary/special education major.
Bailey says rodeo helped her decide on a career focus. “I always knew I would be a teacher, like mom, but it wasn’t until I helped with the Special Needs Rodeo during High School National Finals that I decided to go into special needs,” she explains. “I was paired with a boy named Quinten, a kindergartener. It was an amazing experience. It opened my eyes to the special education world.”
Since that time, Bailey and her mom, Tracy, helped start a Special Needs Rodeo in conjunction with the State 4-H Rodeo Finals.
Although Bailey chose not to rodeo during college, now that she’s home for summer break, she’s practicing to ride barrels in jackpot rodeos.
“You have to be motivated and goal-driven. Some days it would be easy to stay inside and not ride my horse, but if I see my sibling go out there to practice, then I’m not going to stay inside,” Bailey explains.
Her younger sister and recent Sanborn County High School Graduate, Madi, 18, agrees, sibling competition is a motivator. “I’m not going to lie I want to beat Bailey.”
Admittedly competitive, the siblings say succeeding in rodeo has helped them succeed in other areas of their life as well. “Rodeo was one of the things that I was good at, so it gave me confidence in other parts of my life too,” says Logan Hetland, 24, the oldest Moody sibling. Today, Logan is a nurse and lives near Artesian where her husband, Bob, farms fulltime.
And, losing once in a while teaches them valuable life lessons, Tracy adds. “All the kids have let some saddles slip through our hands and because of those mistakes, they’ve learned how to lose and the fact that life goes on.”
“But we get to cry at the trailer for 5 minutes,” Bailey interjects.
“Yes, I always told them they could go pout at the trailer for a few minutes, but then they needed to move on to the next thing because losing is part of life,” Tracy says.
A high school Science teacher, Tracy spends her summers traveling to rodeos with her children. Growing up she didn’t rodeo, but like her children, she grew up riding.
“I grew up on a dairy farm. We had horses and I set up barrels in the pasture and pretended to rodeo,” she says.
And, her husband shares a similar connection to horses. A fourth-generation cattle producer, Perry says he grew up on horseback working cattle. Today, the family continues to use horses to help manage their cow/calf operation. “Horses are more of a tool than a toy on our farm. We use them to move cows, doctor calves, sort cows. We use horses more than four-wheelers. They handle better,” Perry explains. “A cow cannot get away from a good horse.”
For the Moodys, their passion for rodeo stems from a desire to compete and a deep affection for horses or in the rodeo world, their teammate.
“I like how with rodeo, it’s just you and your horse. You develop a huge bond with your horse. Your horse is your team,” Logan explains.
Most of their horses come from their Grandpa Jerry, Perry’s dad. Also a farmer, Jerry makes time to attend every rodeo with the family. “Grandpa is our biggest supporter,” Bailey says.
Jerry enjoys the sport as much as the rest of the family. “Rodeo gives the kids something to do in the summertime where they can have fun competing and learn a bit about what life is about – winning and losing,” explains Jerry.
This summer these truths resonate with Madi. Because, due to a basketball injury – she tore several ligaments in her right knee – she may not be able to compete. “I don’t like even talking about it,” says Madi, fighting back tears. “It’s my senior year and I had so many goals.”
Goal setting is another trait the athletes attribute to rodeo. “Rodeo is the main thing I set goals for,” Madi says. Although she may not be competing this summer, she won’t be missing any rodeos. She currently serves as Student Vice President of the South Dakota High School Rodeo Association – one of the many goals she’s set during her rodeo career.
“It opens a lot of opportunities. It’s an awesome responsibility because we represent every South Dakota high school rodeo athlete, and they are like my family,” Madi explains.
One, big, extended family. That’s how the Moody’s think of other rodeo athletes and their families. “Every rodeo is like camping with your best friends,” Tracy says. “We all support each other.”
And, if you lose, Mason says, his rodeo family is there for him, just like his real family. “Losing with your friends there is OK because they help you get over it, “all right, you got bucked off this one, but tomorrow you’ll get back on and get them.’”
For event schedule and State High School Rodeo Finals details, visit http://www.sdhsra.com/.