One Big Island girl. One sheep. Six seconds.
That’s what it took for Honokaa’s 7-year-old Zaly Miguel on Tuesday to secure a spot in the 2013 Wool Riders Only World Finals slated today at the Big Fresno Fair in Fresno, Calif., said Zaly’s grandmother, Anita Badon. If her performance today scores high enough, Miguel will qualify to compete in the event’s championship Sunday evening. The world champ nets a custom trophy buckle, prizes and $5,000 savings bond.
Zaly’s Tuesday morning six-second ride earned her 84 points, first place in her go-round, and qualified her for a position in the finals. She earned it just one day into the competition, after a second-place and two third-place finishes Monday.
A family video of the first-place ride shows the youngster grasping the fleece of the sheep, which appears at least twice her size, and squeezing her heels tightly into the ruminant’s side as the sheep exits the chute, running fast, but unable to toss the child from its back.
“Anything she does, the determination is there,” said her grandmother, who also expressed thanks on behalf of the family for the help the community played in fundraising to cover expenses during the Wool Riders Only event. “Before she won gold, I told her, ‘You got this,’ and she said ‘I got this.’”
Wool Riders Only Mutton Bustin’ is open to children ages 4 to 7 who weigh no more than 60 pounds. Seventy-five children competed in the finals this year, according to information provided by the fair’s communication’s department.
Competitors ride a sheep for six seconds. As with similar rodeo events, such as bull riding, each competitor receives a score and the child with the highest score earns a spot in the championship event. Each child has multiple chances during the fair, called go-rounds, to secure a first-place win.
The 7-year-old’s path to mutton busting began at the age of 3 when Zaly rode the family puppy, then the dog, then the goat and then sheep, according to her mother, Sara Badon. Despite repeated attempts, neither Badon nor Miguel could be reached for comment as of press time.