Since she was six years old, Ciera Noel McAnlis has been competing in rodeo events all over Arizona and New Mexico, winning multiple awards for her skills.
On February 4, the 13-year-old, who attends Stapley Junior High, competed in the All-Indian Junior Rodeo, part of the 73rd Annual Tohono O’odham Nation Rodeo and Fair in Sells. She entered the barrel racing, pole bending, team roping and ribbon roping events. McAnlis did very well, winning first place in pole bending, and second place in barrel racing, team roping and ribbon roping. She competed in the Junior Division, for ages 10-13.
“I like barrel racing the best, but I also like team roping because when I do well, I feel stronger because it is considered a guy’s sport,” said McAnlis, “and [it makes me feel] that I can actually beat some of the guys too.”
She credits her grandfather Jim McAnlis for helping her and giving her the motivation to compete in rodeo. “During the competition in Sells, I was really nervous, but I had my iPod with me and that helped with drowning out all my thoughts. When I see my friends and cousins compete out there, that helps too because we share and laugh.”
Rodeo is something McAnlis said she does for fun, and not a career, but she practices every day after school so she can become better at competitions.
A new project McAnlis is working on is training horses to compete in rodeo. “I have only done one rodeo with ‘Cody’ she said. “He is still learning patterns. You can train them to learn the basics, but you never stop training them to do better and go faster.” Another young horse, “Justin” whose training is just beginning, is just now getting used to having McAnlis on her back. Then there is another horse, “Leo” that McAnlis always rides in her rodeo competitions.
“I grew up around [horses] and got hurt many times around them, so [now] I am not afraid,” she said.
A Typical Teenager
McAnlis is currently working on another challenge is the life of a typical teenager: learning how to drive.
“I am getting better at it,” she said. “So far I just drive down dirt roads [close to home]. But one thing that is difficult for me is driving with the horse trailer down the dirt roads and then backing it up to load and unload the horses.” Her mother said she needs to pick up on this at an early age and get used to it. “But my grandpa always helps me out too,” said McAnlis.
When she isn’t training or riding horses, McAnlis is usually playing volleyball with her classmates at Stapley Junior High in intramural sports or listening to her favorite pop star, Justin Bieber.
Drama and world history are her favorite subjects in school. She said it is interesting to her to learn how people lived many years ago; she also is interested in World War I. She makes sure that she has an “A” in all of her classes.
Like any teenage girl, McAnlis enjoys shopping for “cute” clothing. When asked if she enjoys buying equipment and saddles for her horses, she responded, “I don’t buy saddles, I win them.” In addition to all the buckles and saddles she has won, she earns prize money that goes into an account to pay her rodeo entry fees.