Bull riding a rush for Collbran 13-year-old

Arles Hernandez competes during the Junior High Finals Rodeo last month in Gallup, N.M. Hernandez finished 12th.



What it takes to be successful in a sport comes naturally to some athletes.

Arles Hernandez of Collbran found out he’s a natural at bull riding.

The 13-year-old finished 12th in the National Junior High Finals Rodeo in Gallup, N.M., in late June.

“Just making it down was great,” Hernandez said. “I thought I’d do better, but was still happy.”

Hernandez finished with 63 points in the junior bull riding division, which drew 28 bull riders from around the country.

“It was pretty cool seeing the other riders,” Hernandez said. “It helped me stay focused.”

Hernandez has come a long way since first deciding he wanted to try bull riding in 2009. Hernandez was introduced to bull riding at the Fellowship of Christian Cowboys Rodeo Camp in Delta two years ago.

“He’s really taken off from when he first started,” Hernandez’s mother, Jennifer Ehart, said. “He’s wanted to do it since he was little.”

Hernandez is a member of the Northwestern Rodeo Club that attends junior high school rodeos throughout the state. In 2011, Hernandez finished first in junior bull riding at rodeos in Cortez and Greeley, and was second in the Pagosa Springs and Eagle rodeos.

“(Riding bulls) is a lot of fun,” Hernandez said. “It’s a big adrenaline rush.”

The National High School Rodeo Association created the junior high division in 2004.

With several events including barrel racing, tie-down roping, goat tying and bull riding, 47 states and provinces belong to the NHSRA.

The junior high/high school rodeo season begins in September and runs through June.

Hernandez is entering eighth grade at Plateau Valley School, so this is his final year of junior high rodeo.

Hernandez has a goal to make the world finals at the junior high, high school and the pro level.

Ehart said Hernandez has the drive to do just that.

“I’ve seen him show more passion with this than just about anything else he’s ever done,” Ehart said. “He’s athletic and constantly shows the interest in this and I think it’s just awesome.”


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