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Meet the Member Rylee Abel
story by Lindsay King
When breakaway roping finds its way to the big rodeos, Hobbs, New Mexico, cowgirl Rylee Grace Abel will be ready. “Breakaway is my favorite event, probably because I am best at it. I like that my family can all rope together,” said the 12-year-old. Named the 2017 New Mexico breakaway roping champion, all-around cowgirl and rookie of the year, Rylee has her sights set for the NFR and the American. “I would love to make it in barrels, since that is the only event I can go in to those right now. If they added breakaway roping and goat tying I would rather go in those.”
Rylee started on a pony in the barrels, poles and flags when she was four. She added goats at six and roping at eight. “Kelsy, my dad, and Casey, my mom, along with grandma and grandpa Riley, taught me how to rope. When I was ten I started roping steers with my family.” Born into a rodeo family, Kelsy helps with breakaway roping and Casey helps with the team roping. “My parents have rodeoed their whole lives. My dad heels for me in the team roping and my mom is also a header so she gives me pointers.” Rylee is never short of a support system or a cheering section. “It is neat to have my family at rodeos. I know I always have their support. My sister, Anistyn, is my biggest fan, she yells for me a lot. On every video she is screaming for me.” They have plenty to support her through since Rylee competes in almost every event: barrels, poles, goat tying, breakaway roping, ribbon roping, and team roping.
At only seven, Anistyn is following in Rylee’s rodeo footsteps, already riding her hand-me-down-horses. “My favorite horses are Molly and Howdy. Molly has a funny personality and she has won a bunch for me. Howdy also has a good personality but I can do anything on him because he is so laid back.” Rylee runs barrels on Salty sometimes but he is mostly Anistyn’s horse now. Her role models are Jana Bean, a family friend, and her aunt, Fallon Jordan. “They both help me with my barrel horses quite a bit. And they support me in barrels of course.”
Long weekends spent at jackpots, rodeos and ultimate calf roping events, keep the Abel family on the road more often than not. “My favorite part of rodeo is spending time with my friends and family. All my family comes to watch. It is fun to go out there and show people what I can do.” The friendly but competitive nature of the NMJHSRA keeps Rylee coming back each weekend. “I know a lot of people and they are all friendly, especially the directors. We not have to travel far to the rodeos either.”
A seventh grader at Whitehorse Christian Academy, a homeschool program, gives Rylee plenty of time to ride. “My favorite subject is math, it is challenging. We go to a church in Lovington on Tuesdays and Wednesdays to get all our school work done. There is an English teacher there who helps us and serves as our facilitator.” Outside of school, Rylee likes to hunt with her grandpa Rylie. “He is a hunting guide so I like to go with him. I drew elk, deer and oryx tags this year.” She used to play softball and was enrolled in karate for three months. “I stopped playing softball in fourth grade because we were rodeoing so much that I did not have time. I started karate so I could learn to defend myself.”
After watching her own horses get adjusted by a chiropractor, Rylee has decided this is what she wants to do when she grows up. Her free time is spent with two of her cousins: Breaker and Kimber. “They always come over and we spend a lot of time together. They both have horses and I hope one day they will rodeo with me.