At 18 months, Casey Chasteen was in the saddle. Around the time most children are becoming used to walking on their own two legs, this Columbia native, now 17 years old, was learning how to stay steady on not two, but four legs.
Granted, her mother would sit behind her to steady her on her horse. The experience would lead to 16 more years-and-counting of competing in horse shows and rodeo competitions. Chasteen can barely remember a time when she wasn’t in the saddle,
“I love being around horses,” she said.
Similar to other sports, a member of Chasteen’s family usually tapes the athletes competing in their event at each rodeo. Afterward the family watches the taped performance and critiques each moment.
Chasteen said that watching the videos provides a way for her to recognize her mistakes and find ways to improve each
Usually the family involvement is helpful, but sometimes the extra assistance didn’t help the way it was supposed to.
In one of her first competitions, Chasteen remembers her mother created a pink beaded safety chin string for her to wear to keep her hat from flying off while riding.
The string did not actually do its job, since the hat eventually ended up in front of her face.
The Rock Bridge High School senior is not the only one in her family who competes in rodeo. Both of her parents participated when they were younger and the tradition was passed down to Chasteen and her two younger brothers, Brady, 15, and Tory, 13.
Chasteen said that though she might not have as many close friends in school, she has lots of friends from rodeo and participating in her local Future Farmers of America chapter.
“I think that it makes you more of an individual,” said Chasteen of competing in rodeo.
A common misconception about rodeo, she said, is the idea that it does not require much work.
“It takes a lot of practice,” Chasteen said, “you have to be knowledgeable about what you are trying to do.”
Although injuries are a part of participating in rodeo, Chasteen has only had a cracked rib. However, her brother Brady Chasteen was once dragged by his horse around the ring a few times while practicing. Chasteen said
watching the experience, “spooks you a little bit,” but shows that rodeo is always unpredictable.
“You can’t really control anything that happens,” Chasteen said.
Chasteen won two saddles last year in the girls’ goat tying and cutting events. She also qualified for and competed in the National High School Finals Rodeo last year in the breakaway roping, goat tying, and cutting events.
Casey and Brady Chasteen both competed in their events this weekend in hopes of qualifying for Nationals, which will take place July 19 through 28 in Springfield, Ill.