I n the rodeo world, where your every move is predicated on speed and a stopwatch
But four years of trying, patience and hard work has led Rockdale's McKenna Galbreath to her ultimate goal. She was named the 2009 All- Around Cowgirl of the Texas High School Rodeo Association Region X and enters the 62nd Texas High School Finals Rodeo in the top spot.
"I took things a little more serious this year," Galbreath said. "I would always come home from state and say, well, I've got next year. I didn't have that this time.
"Last year I didn't put near enough effort into it and after realizing there is no next year— it changes your attitude."
The finals begin Friday in Abilene at the Taylor County Coliseum and continue until June 21.
The top four finishers will join 1,500 contestants from around the United States and earn a trip to the National High School Finals Rodeo in Farm- ington, New Mexico on July 19-25.
"I think I have a pretty good chance in all the events."
Galbreath actually qualified in a fifth event—goat tying—but chose to bow out.
Galbreath came close to the crown twice before as a freshman and sophomore, nabbing the bridesmaid spot of reserve all-around cowgirl.
Foot and knee injuries marred Galbreath's junior season.
But, with a strong showing in six events this year, she pushed her way to the top of the cowgirls vying for the title.
Galbreath won the year end pole bending championship and reserve championship in breakaway roping to make her senior year her best in the sport.
Galbreath, who recently graduated from RHS, will be joined in Abilene by two other Milam County Region X members. Allen Faust, an RHS junior and member of the Tiger baseball team, will be advancing in the big man sport of steer wrestling.
Thorndale senior Clay Schneider is advancing in the only team event of team roping for the second straight year.
Galbreath is most confident in her cutting skills and feels it is her strongest event at the moment, over her previous best, breakaway roping.
"I really, truly like the cutting," she said. "I had been just dabbling in it, but took it a little more serious about five months ago."
Galbreath credits trainer Andy Jackson with providing her with the motivation and the actual horse to get the most out of the event.
"I wouldn't be anywhere without him."
Galbreath received a helping hand from several people. She uses Clifford Angell's horse for goat tying and Johnny and Peggy Morton's horse for team roping.
Her team roping partner was Landon Gifford.
Along with her cutting horse Ivan, Galbreath will take four other horses with her to Abilene— one of the prices of competing in so many events.
"This has been my strongest year and it's because I've had the nicest horses under me that I've ever had."
Galbreath actually received a rodeo scholarship from Texas A&M that will take care of about $8,000 worth of her bills per semester.
Galbreath, who graduated fourth in her class with a 3.8 grade point average, plans to study biomedical science at A&M and become a doctor.
"We'll see how that goes in eight years."
It's alright, she's used to waiting. Who—McKenna Galbreath and Allen Faust of Rockdale; Clay Schneider of Thorndale. What—62nd Texas High School Finals Rodeo. When—June 12-21 Where—Abilene, Texas at the Taylor County Coliseum. Contestants—675 in 12 events. Why—To earn a trip to the National High School Finals Rodeo in Farmington, New Mexico, July 19-25.