POCATELLO, Idaho - Nearly 300 rodeo contestants from around the state are saddling-up for the 17th annual Idaho High School Rodeo in Pocatello this week.
Today marks the first day of a series of competitive events, where boys and girls will go head-to-head in the cow cutting competition.
Two-time state champion and current holder of the national championship title, Sadee Smith from Middleton High School described how the competition is judged.
"You have two and a half minutes to show-off your horse's ability and you will cut anywhere from two to three cows," Smith, 17, said. "Basically, you're just trying to mirror the cow and do it as pretty as you can."
Smith has been competing since she was eight years old. This will be the first time she is competing with a new trusty companion, a horse called Icky.
"I have spent a lot of time on Miss Icky, here, and went many miles with her," Smith said in reference to Icky being almost another member of the family.
For the Smith family, obtaining a national title when it comes to rodeo runs strong in the family genes. Smith, along with her sister and cousin, Garrett, are also national and state champions.
However, representing Idaho on a national scale comes in a different rodeo form as well.
Recent Pocatello High School graduate Maicie Bullock, 18, is the new reigning national rodeo queen.
Bullock said Pocatello hosting the rodeo for nearly two decades has almost become a tradition for rodeo enthusiasts around the state. She feels this event is a good way to draw families out to spend time together in a fun environment.
"It's going to be so much fun," Bullock said. "We have got so many great cowboys and great cowgirls to come see. It is almost better than a professional rodeo to watch."
Today's event is judged based on how how effortless the contestants appear.
"They go in there and their horses sort out the cows. The more action you get in the better you do," Bullock said.
"They (the contestants) are actually kicking, shifting their weight, spurring-up, sitting down to get it to stop, and they have got to do all of that without being obvious to the judges," rodeo director for the state of Idaho Brent Robertson said.
Robertson said the contestants start out with a set number of points. Then based off their performance, they can either gain or lose points.
"You have to look like you're not doing anything but you are really doing a lot," Robertson said.
The winners of today's competition will not be announced until later tomorrow after the second round of cow cutting competitors take the arena floor.
The rodeo will continue through Saturday and events will take place everyday this week.
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