Honokaa’s Zaly Miguel is riding well at the Wool Riders Only World Finals Competition — even after a big setback.
Used to clenching her knees in a sitting-stance and wearing spurs as she mutton busts, the petite 6-year-old youngster had to quickly relearn how to ride after arriving at the competition last Saturday in Fresno, Calif. Wool Riders Only rules require competitors to lay on the animal and not wear spurs.
“She was having such a hard time just getting used to it. But, the chute crew running the show helped her — they were so much help giving her tips, showing her how to hold on to the wool the way she should be,” said Miguel’s mother, Sara Badon. “Even though she was having such a hard time, she’s placed in all but three races.”
Thus far in the weeklong competition, a Professional Bull Riding-affiliated event at the Big Fresno Fair, Miguel has ridden 10 sheep and placed in the top three on seven of those rides, Badon. In her possession are one first-place medal, one second-place medal and five third-place medals.
That first-place win Miguel earned Wednesday catapults her into the world finals competition slated for Saturday and on Sunday the chance to earn the fair’s mutton busting gold buckle. If Miguel wins Saturday, she nets a $15,000 scholarship — $5,000 more than the family previously had been told.
“She wants that buckle more than the $15,000,” Badon said, adding her daughter met her goal of earning a first-place win before today. “But, $15,000 puts more on the line.”
The Honokaa Elementary School first-grader earned the spot in the national competition following a first-place win at the Honokaa Saddle Club Memorial Day Weekend Rodeo this May. She has been riding since age 3.