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Marble Falls youth rodeo spans generations; event returns July 13

Slade Smathers waves to the press box after he finishes his pole bending ride. Slade won the buckle in the boys 8-and-under division in the 2015 Marble Falls Rodeo Association’s youth rodeo. This year’s event returns to Charley Taylor Arena on July 13. Staff photo by Jennifer Fierro

MARBLE FALLS — The Marble Falls Rodeo Association’s youth rodeo might be a kids competition, but it’s definitely a family affair.

Parents, grandparents and even aunts and uncles help their younger family members saddle their horses, get them cleaned up and help them into the saddle.

There’s also the job of comforter when the youth doesn’t do as well as he or she had hoped.

This year’s youth rodeo is July 13 at Charley Taylor Rodeo Arena, 3053 U.S. 281 south of Marble Falls. Gates open at 6 p.m. with competition starting at 7 p.m.

Admission is free, but athletes ages 5-18 pay $10 to compete. Sign up before July 11 to avoid paying a late fee. The event benefits the Burnet County 4-H horse club, and donations are welcome.

Passing on a tradition and love of horses – that sums up the youth rodeo.

“I know a lot of kids who love to run speed events,” horse club sponsor Kelly Haydon said. “It’s been in the family for years, and they’re continuing that tradition.”

The rodeo is divided into age groups: 8 and younger; 9-11; 12-14; and 15-18. Events include pole bending, a goat ribbon run, flags, straight-away barrels and clover-leaf barrels.

“We’ll start them young,” Haydon said about the annual event. “It’s a good place for kids to come and exhibit skills, socialize and ride their horses.”

Youth from Burnet, Blanco, Lampasas, Llano, Williamson, Travis, San Saba and Bell counties can participate. Top performers in each age group and gender receive halters or buckles.

The youth rodeo typically draws about 40 competitors, and participants don’t have to be members of the Burnet County 4-H horse club.

Money raised helps offset costs for entry fees to clinics and other activities for the club.

Email Haydon at for an entry form or more information.

The youth event opens a weekend of rodeo action with the Marble Falls Open Pro Rodeo on July 15-16 with slack on July 14, all at the arena. Go to for more information.

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