Sisters youth rodeo competitor Adriene Steffen earned Reserve Champion honors in pole bending at the Junior World Championships in Fort Worth, Texas. photo by Boaz Dov Elkes
Sisters youth rodeo competitor Adriene Steffen earned Reserve Champion honors in pole bending at the Junior World Championships in Fort Worth, Texas. photo by Boaz Dov Elkes
Adriene Steffen has added to her collection of rodeo trophies with a Reserve Champion finish in pole bending at the Junior World Championships Rodeo held December 7-12 in Fort Worth, Texas.

The 15-year-old rodeo competitor from Sisters has racked up considerable success in the arena, competing nationally since 2017.

Steffen turned in blazing-fast times of 20.7 seconds and 20.1 seconds on her 19-year-old horse named Bully, whom she started working with a year ago.

“I was really proud of my horse,” Steffen told The Nugget. “Those were the fastest times we’ve run. He’s a super-good, easygoing horse that you just have to be there for the ride and help him out.”

Top honors went to Macie Kulikov of Sanger, California, whose runs included extraordinary sub-20-second times.

Pole bending is a timed event that features a horse and rider, running a weaving or serpentine path around six poles arranged in a line, similar to a skiing slalom.

Achieving times in the low 20-second range is tough, especially in an indoor arena. Steffen explained that horses often don’t like to go all-out in a smaller, enclosed space.

Steffen noted that Bully’s previous owner, Cate Hepper, helped to coach her, reviewing video footage and suggesting small adjustments in technique.

Steffen also competed in Breakaway Roping, but without a top finish.

Steffen and her father, Randy, were in Fort Worth from November 29 through December 16. The imperative to spread out competitors due to the coronavirus pandemic meant that they had to stay out of town at Shepherd Valley Church, which is affiliated with the local Powell Butte Shiloh Church. That meant a 4 a.m. callout to get the horses ready and into the trailer for the trip in to Fort Worth’s legendary Stockyards.

The Stockyards themselves were a remarkable experience, the Steffens said.

“Every day at 11:30 and 3:00 they’d run longhorns down the main street,” Adriene recalled.

Steffen’s performance in Pole Bending earned her a $6,200 prize paycheck and an assorted collection of prizes. Most gratifying is the honor of performing at a top level among qualifying rodeo athletes from across North America.

The young high school sophomore told The Nugget that she’s now “kind of getting back more focused on high school rodeo.”