Sunset Beach’s Rita Earns College Rodeo Scholarship

You might say Shelby Rita was born to compete in rodeo.

The Sunset Beach resident has been riding horses since as far back as she can remember.

“I was brought up around rodeo and horses from my parents,” she said. “They brought me up around animal and competing; they did it growing up and still do.”

Rita recently graduated from Mesalands Community College in New Mexico with an associate’s degree in business administration. As a student there, she competed in breakaway roping at the College National Finals Rodeo (CNFR) competition in June.

For those unfamiliar with rodeo terminology, breakaway roping requires female participants to rope a calf around its neck and let the rope that is tied to the saddle horn break off. The competitor with the fastest time wins.

Roping since she was about 8 years old, time-consuming dedication is something of which she is well aware. When she wasn’t working on campus as a tutor, Rita spent most of her afternoons in the practice arena.

“Practice normally started around 2 o’clock in the afternoon, and we’d stay out there most times after the sun went down,” she said.

At this year’s CNFR, Rita felt she performed modestly. That, however, didn’t stop her from placing ninth in the nation.

Rita’s time away has not only enabled her to compete and participate in college rodeo, but has given her new insights as well.

“In the sport of rodeo, it is very competitive, but your friends who compete right alongside of you want to see you succeed; they cheer you along,” she said.

“Rodeo is a very unique sport; it doesn’t only involve you, but most of the time two animals that have a mind of their own, and a stopwatch. You only have one shot at it; there are no timeouts o think about your game plan.”

Next year, Rita will attend Eastern New Mexico University on a rodeo scholarship – which means we haven’t heard the last of Rita’s conquests in the rodeo world just yet.