Phillip Yung, For The Miami Student

Danielle Ross, a Talawanda High School senior, clinched the All Around Title in the Four States Youth Rodeo, a seven-show series. Held at the Clark County Fairgrounds in Springfield, Ohio, the Four States Youth Rodeo attracts competitors from Indiana, West Virginia, Kentucky and Ohio.

“Over 150 kids participated like one big family,” Ross said. “Everyone participating cheers each other on and supports each other even though we are competing against each other for the winning title.”

Ross had to compete in a variety of events including Pole Bending, Barrel Racing and Down and Back. In order to obtain the ultimate score of a 10, one must have the quickest time in completing each event. Whoever accumulates the most points becomes the All Around Champion, which Ross managed to accomplish.

Ross competed for the title on her 22-year-old Quarter Horse, Tari Mans Shadow. Her competitors were 45 other 16 to 20 year olds.

“It was not an easy road,” Ross said. “Throughout the season, there were tears of frustration from disqualifying from an event, conflicts with swimming varsity for Talawanda and quirky issues with my horse.”

It was not an easy task for her, as the competition tested her mentally and physically. Nevertheless, her passion and persistence enabled her to nab the top place in the competition.

Ross will be attending Miami University in the fall, with intentions of majoring in Exercise Science and Pre-med. As far as her equestrian career goes, she is still uncertain if she will join the equestrian team at Miami and continue riding. If she does decide to continue, the Western style in the Miami Equestrian team would be ideal.

“I haven’t decided, I might go talk to them,” Ross said. “They are more English style. I do more of the Western style.”

Ross has significant experience in horse competitions.

“I have been riding since age 4 and competing since age 8,” Ross said.

The many years of hard work and training served her well. After a very close head-to-head race for first place, Ross came out as the victor.

“I had been leading the all-around going into finals, but another girl was extremely close in points to me, so I knew I had to place in the top three, if not first in several of the events both Saturday and Sunday,” Ross said. “The pressure was immense.”

Juggling school, varsity swimming and maintaining her horse added satisfaction and relief to her victory. However, Ross, who was uncertain until the awards ceremony, finally received the All Around Title that she was yearning for all along.

“I was super excited,” she said. “Finally, after competing for so long, I’m finally recognized.”