St Kitts rider Jess Hahn will embark on the pinnacle of her short rodeo career next month when she competes at the Australian Professional Rodeo Association (APRA) Junior National Rodeo Finals in Emerald, Queensland.
Watching her mother and aunt compete in rodeos across the country from a young age, 13-year-old Jess always had an interest in the sport.
“It’s a family thing, mum (Sandy) did (barrel racing and breakaway roping) for a long time,” she said.
“My auntie Jenny (Heath) was the 1990 breakaway roping champion, and mum still competes.”
Jess has been competing since she was six years old, and said she was delighted to qualify top 10 in barrel and breakaway, gaining selection for her first APRA National Rodeo Finals early next month.
She trains four to five times a week, but admits the nationals are a bit of an unknown.
“I think I’ll go alright, but it’s a pretty tough competition, most of the other people going come from Queensland, so they’re used to it… we don’t have a lot of rodeos in South Australia,” Jess said.
“I was pretty happy (to be selected) considering the competition I’ve had to compete with.
“There’s a ladder (during the season) so I had a bit of an idea how I was going.”
Jess said she doesn’t often talk to her school friends about rodeo, but encouraged others to get involved if they’re interested.
“I love it, I don’t know what I’d do if I didn’t do it,” she said.
“People you go with and have relationships with help you, and they make it all something really special.”
The Nuriootpa High School Year 8 student said she loves both her events, but prefers the challenge of breakaway roping and overcoming the high margin for error.
“At the start I liked barrel better because in breakaway if you miss you miss,” she said.
Mum Sandy Hahn said she was extremely proud to hear Jess was going to nationals.
She added that Jess has tremendous potential within the sport.
“I’m pretty excited for her – I’m pretty proud – she’s got a lot more potential than I ever had,” she said.
“It’s very nerve-wracking (watching), but a good rider won’t have a problem, and Jess has been lucky not to have any serious injuries.”
Jess wished to thank all of her sponsors and anyone else who has helped her along her journey.