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Charleston girl ready to compete in rodeo

Monday, August 9, 2004

(Photo)
Amanda Presson of Charleston works with a horse.
CHARLESTON - "Ever since I started to rodeo, it has been my goal to compete at Sikeston," said 19-year-old Amanda Presson.

Her dreams came true in time for the 2003 Jaycee Bootheel Rodeo. This year, Presson will again compete in the barrel racing event.

Although she has competed in other PRCA rodeos, the Sikeston rodeo is the most exciting for Presson. "It's more like a rush for me," she said. "It's here in my hometown, where I've gone to the rodeo forever."

Presson has experienced other PRCA rodeos, but the Jaycee Bootheel Rodeo remains her favorite. "Compared to others, there is a huge turnout," she remarked. "People come from all over the place and it's a really big deal."

Before the rodeo began last year, Presson stood in the middle of the Jaycee arena one night; she had a huge rush of emotion. "I thought, wow, I can't believe I'm actually getting to do this," she recalled.

When she was 5 years old, Presson got her first pony. Her parents, Roy and Melinda Presson, shared their passion of riding with their daughter.

She became involved in rodeo at 9 when she was introduced to 4-H rodeo. Then she was hooked.

"Once you get bitten by the bug, there's no turning back," Presson said with a laugh, adding she plans to rodeo as long as she can.

Presson joined the Scott County Rodeo Club, which she belonged to until last year, when she reached the maximum age. Presson was also a member of the National High School Rodeo Association. She has participated in open and youth rodeos, which she continues to take part in.

Presson has previously competed in goat-tying and pole bending events, but is focusing on barrel racing at the moment. She has won several buckles and had a Top 10 finish in Missouri High School Rodeo competition for pole bending. In 2003, she won fourth place in the senior barrel racing division of the Southeast Missouri 4-H. Presson also attended state finals in Columbia while she belonged to NHSRA.

Presson was barely able to compete in last year's rodeo. "I got my permit just before the rodeo last year," she said, because the minimum age is 18. She belongs to the Women's Professional Rodeo Association, whose barrel racing events are sanctioned with the PRCA rodeo.

In addition to belonging to the WPRA, Presson also barrel races on the collegiate level as a part of the Murray State Rodeo Team.

On the team, she competes within the Ozark region, which includes states such as Alabama and Mississippi.

Even when she isn't on the rodeo grounds, Presson wants to be involved with horses. She is majoring in animal science with an emphasis on equine science. The sophomore student is considering becoming an equine chiropractor.

The young cowgirl also works at Morton's Quarter Horses in Blodgett. "I ride horses five days a week," she said. "It's really fun."

Presson said her job helps her become accustomed to unfamiliar horses. Furthermore, it is good practice.

Although Presson has participated in rodeos for 10 years, she still gets nervous sometimes. A lot of it depends on which of her two horses she is riding. "I've had one of them for two years, so we go in, do our thing and get out," Presson commented.

Her concerns arise while riding her other horse, which she has only had for two months. But she said things are improving as she and her horse are starting to connect more.

Presson's main goal is to do the best she can.

"I push myself and my horse to the limit," she said. "As long as I know I did the best job I could do, that's all that matters."