Landry Haugen captures second Junior High all-around despite broken foot
Landry Haugen captured her second consecutive South Dakota Junior High Association Girls All-Around title in her final year in junior high The 14-year-old views the achievement as a symbol of her hard work and support from her family.
Landry broke the sesamoid bone in her foot while playing basketball this winter, which can take up to a year to heal as it fills back in with fibrous tissue. Upon first injuring her foot, she was on crutches for six weeks, then a floating boot for another six weeks, and finally she now inserts a special plate in her shoe and tapes her foot all times. She ices it nightly and practices goat tying a fraction of the amount she would have without the fracture.
“Even simple things like going to catch horses, we’ve had to, in [Landry’s dad] Tyler’s words, adapt, improvise, and overcome. She could get on and ride, but she would get really sore,” Landry’s mom Dee said. “She couldn’t practice, we wouldn’t let her. She only tied goats once or twice a week, when usually it was every night.”
Her injury didn’t hold her back from claiming her second all-around saddle, though her multitude of events also doesn’t hinder her chances any. Landry qualified for the South Dakota Junior High Rodeo Association and made the short go while there in all of her events, barrel racing, pole bending, goat tying, breakaway roping, team roping, and ribbon roping. She qualified for National Junior High Rodeo Association Finals June 23 to 29 in Huron, South Dakota, by placing in the top four in four events. She wound up first in barrels, first in ribbon roping with partner Grey Gilbert, second in breakaway roping and third in pole bending. “I know that everything I do is 50 percent mental and 50 percent physical, so all I did was visualize every single run I made in every scenario,” Landry said of her successes. “I haven’t been able to practice goat tying often, and ride and rope as much as I did last year, but the break was an obstacle to overcome; it wasn’t a road block.”
Landry’s name appears in many events on the NJHRA National Team roster for accumulating points overall in her rodeos throughout her eighth grade year. She is first in barrel racing on South Dakota’s National Team, second in goat tying, second in pole bending, and second in ribbon roping with Gilbert.
“The great thing about rodeo is that you don’t get a participation ribbon; you get what you put in,” Dee said. “Landry had some fails; she went into state winning goat tying, had some heck, had some goats get up, and didn’t qualify for nationals. When they win, we all accomplish it together.”
In addition to hauling Landry to each of her rodeos, Dee, mom of three to Landry, Arina, 10, and Blaisely, 4, is an integral part of her kids’ successes in her key role of barrel- and pole-horse trainer. Each of Landry’s barrel horses, S’mores and Promiscuous, were either started or trained by her mom. S’mores, a 15-year-old AQHA gelding, was originally intended to be a hazing horse, but his fear of steers and dummies put a quick halt to that. He has excelled as Landry’s main barrel horse after a bit of professionally competing with Dee at rodeos in places like Salinas, California, and Cheyenne, Wyoming. S’mores did redeem himself by hazing with Tyler at those same rodeos as well.
“His experience is a really awesome attribute to have, I know he’s going to take care of me,” Landry said. “Good horses are hard to come by, and I have two of them.”
Style, Landy’s little sister Arina’s horse that was also trained by Dee, has been Landry’s go-to pole-bending horse this year. The fourth member in Landry’s A-Team is Kitten, a home-raised, home-trained mare who has stepped up as Landry’s heel horse. She took a while, she said, to season, but “since she’s been seasoned, she’s an awesome little mare to have.”
Her last horse to help earn the all-around is Pepper, her breakaway-roping and goat-tying horse, with which she won SDJHRA Horse of the Year.
At the top of her game leaving middle school, when Landry starts rodeoing for Sturgis High School in the fall, she isn’t letting a freshman status keep her from being competitive.
“I’m not going into rodeo saying, ‘You’re a freshman’ and using that as an excuse. That isn’t the right mentality,” she said. “I’m going to go into it thinking I can compete and win.”
Part of her mentality, according to Dee, comes from her experience gained from rodeoing in junior high and even Little Britches before and during that (Landry also qualified for the goat-tying, barrel racing, and breakaway roping short-rounds at National Little Britches Finals last year.)
“What junior high rodeo has done is progressed our kids a lot,” Dee said. “When I think back to being in high school, being in national high school finals, in the short go, and having the nerves and adrenaline, this allows these kids to have that earlier. They learn to handle themselves and handle pressure, then when they’re in high school and college, it’s not such a scary deal.”
If you ask Landry or Dee what is the most important aspect of rodeo, they’ll be quick to answer that it isn’t the wins, titles, buckles, or saddles.
“My husband and I both rodeoed, my parents rodeoed; we love the sport of rodeo, but we love the connections we make through it,” Dee said. “We talk about it with the kids, and rodeo is a team. Landry used her middle sister’s horse in pole bending and that helped her win the all-around title. It’s very fulfilling in that essence.”
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