Not just anybody can saddle up and compete in the sport of rodeo. Typically the competitor grew up around the sport, and had the desire to compete at a very young age.
For Rocky Boy’s Dionne Johnson, age 13, that is exactly her story. Johnson has been competing in the Montana rodeo scene for a decade now. Her father, Enos Johnson competes in team roping, triggering Dionne’s intrigue, and she has been hooked ever since. Dionne has traveled the state of Montana every summer since the age of just three years old, including her annual stop at the Great Northern Stampede Rodeo held at the Hill County Fairgrounds every July, where she battles a tough field of junior barrel racers.
Here's five questions with a barrel racer who competed with the pros at this year's Great Northern Stampede
HDN: What first interested you in competing in barrel racing?
Johnson: “It was my dad, but I really like the competition.”
HDN: What is your favorite fair ride?
Johnson: “I like the zipper. It is really fun and you get to spin around and go upside down. And I am going to try the new one (Speed) now that I am done.”
HDN: For those of us who don’t get to experience what it feels like to fly across the arena on a horse, what does it feel like going that fast?
Johnson: “It feels really good. It is exciting, and it always puts a smile on my face.”
HDN: Are there any other events you would like to compete in?
Johnson: “Breakaway roping. It would be exciting to pick up that calf and get the rope on it.”
HDN: What kind of work does it take to maintain a horse fit for barrel racing?
Johnson: “Yeah I do (have to do a lot of work), especially when I finish. I have to water and feed the horses, and take off the saddle, the bridle, and his boots that protect the legs.”