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Katie Udell Competes in World Competition

Katie+Udell+and+one+of+her+horses%2C+CanDo.
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Katie Udell Competes in World Competition

Katie Udell and one of her horses, CanDo.

Katie Udell and one of her horses, CanDo.

Sophia Johnson

Katie Udell and one of her horses, CanDo.

Sophia Johnson

Sophia Johnson

Katie Udell and one of her horses, CanDo.

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Both students and teachers see junior Katie Udell as a hard working, admirable person who is very determined in both her school work and after school activities. What many people don’t know is that Udell has a talent that not many people have: she rides and competes on horses.

Udell competes in a variety of events, mostly the NRCHA derby events. A derby means that she rides her horses two handed due to their young age. Udell competes in the non-pro derby. The non pro is the degree of difficulty in which she competes in. The horses that are eligible to compete in the derby are between the ages of 4 and 5.

“When I was six years old my parents enrolled me in an English riding program. I rode once a week for four years. Throughout my time riding English I participated in jumping and vaulting,” Katie Udell said, “By the time I was 10 years old I was getting bored of jumping all the time and decided to try something new. I got my first horse when I was 11 years old.”

Udell enjoys the derby events because horses ages 5 and up are required to be shown one handed with Romel reins (which are one handed reins) in a “bridal”–a kind of bit that younger horses are shown in. Some horses retire even at the early age of six.

On Feb. 9, Udell competed at the World Show and placed eighth in the world in the non-pro herd work. She was ranked no. 16 overall with her horse named Hick on Weed. The horse won money at prior competitions with different owners, so legally Udell was not allowed to change her name. Udell normally calls her horse Mary Jane, or MJ for short.

“She is so modest and under the radar about what she does with the horses and everything, I’ve had to pull information from her. Most kids would brag whenever they get the chance but she keeps it close to her,” marketing teacher and DECA advisor Keith Jurek said.

Udell qualified for another chance to compete for a national title in Oklahoma this June, but will be unable to participate because she will be selling Hick on Weed this summer. The horse is not performing to her best ability.

Udell competes in the National Reined Cow Horse Association (NRCHA) High School Rodeo, OutWest Ranch Shows, and multiple other organizations. The World Championship is a NRCHA event featuring the top horses and riders from each of the eight geographic regions. The NRCHA Celebration of Champions also includes the Cow Horse Classic Derby for 4 and 5-year-old cow horses, which Udell competed in.

Reined cow horse is the event Udell excels. It is all about one horse and one rider. At this competition horses compete in three events. Horses are judged on their accuracy, timing, and responsiveness, as well as how they handle a single cow along with their ability to ride into a herd of cattle and quietly “cut” a cow from the herd. This triathalon of events are very complex and few people are capable of excelling in all three events.

“When I was in Fort Worth, the Greatest Horseman event was there at the same time and it was amazing to see my idols riding right next to me,” Udell said.

One event that is included in the NRCHA is the rein work which is when the horse and rider work throw a disciplined a pattern consisting of spins, sliding stops, and show cases control of speeding up and slowing down.

The final event in the National Reined Cow Horse Association is the fence work. The third event is the most dangerous of them all. Horses are asked to work a single live cow in an arena, performing specific maneuvers that include circling the cow, turning it in a specified manner, and performing a reining pattern. Running a horse along side a cow full speed into a wall can lead to many complications.

“My biggest fear is falling off during the fence work. The horses are moving so fast and there is little room for error. One time, my saddle wasn’t tight enough going down the fence and the saddle slipped underneath my horse and I went crashing into a steel gate,” Udell said.

“When I was 11 I switched over to western and starting Barrel Racing. My horse Poco was a very good starter horse and I was seriously competing in barrel racing for two years, until I was introduced to sorting and penning and then I bought another horse,” Udell said.

The difference between Western and English riding is the saddle. Western is more of the cowboy rodeo feel while English is a more proper style of riding as seen in the Olympics. Both are equal in difficulty.

She was elected to be the Minnesota student director for reined cow horse. Along with that, she also competes in local shows in a variety of different events during the summer, including other competitions across the country.

Udell also currently owns another horse that competed in Fort Worth at the same show she was at. His name is Shootin for Cocktails, but he is also known as Yoda. Her trainer showed him in the Open Derby.

Here is a list of awards and achievements that Udell has had throughout her riding career:

  • 2014 – Udell won the WSCA high point pleasure award and was the High View sorting champion.
  • 2015 – Udell was the Outwest ranch horse show reserve champion, North Country Cutters 2 hand champion and the Carver County Fair Penning Champion. She placed in the High View Sorting Reserve and was the Ladies Sorting Jackpot Reserve Champion.
  • 2016 – Udell was the Wright County Fair sorting Champion, the OutWest Ranch Horse Show Reserve Champion and the high school rodeo reserve go-around champion. She placed in the top five at the state high school rodeo finals for reined cow horses.
  • 2017 – Udell was the Northern Lights versatility all around youth champion & open working cow horse and cutting champion. For her second year in a row Udell was the Wright County Fair sorting reserve champion and in the top five at the state high school rodeo finals for reined cow horses. She was the two time champion for five & under Snaffle Bit with the NCRCHA. She was the ranchers NCRCHA champion. Udell placed third in the Nebraska Non Pro Derby 3rd and Reserve in Cutting.
  • 2018 – On Feb. 9, Udell traveled to Fort Worth, Texas where she placed no. 16 overall and is now ranked eighth in the world in the non pro herd work.
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