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Meet the Member: Emma Lutter
By Lily Weinacht
High school senior Emma Lutter is finishing her fourth and final year with the SDHSRA this spring, hoping to put her senior year in the books with a qualification to the NHSFR.
The 17 year old from Zell, S.D., began her rodeo career outside of the arena, watching her dad and older brothers rope and steer wrestle before she took up the family sport herself. In addition to high school rodeo, the 17-year-old from Zell, S.D., is a member of the NBHA, NCHA, and 4-H rodeo, competing in barrel racing, pole bending, breakaway roping, ribbon roping, cutting, and reined cow horse. “My love for horses and my family keeps me pretty motivated. They support me a lot, plus rodeo is like a stress reliever for me,” says Emma, whose favorite event is cutting. “I started cutting when I was really little and then stopped, but I started doing it again six years ago. My grandpa is into cutting and I ride one of his horses, so he’ll coach me when I work the flag or work cattle. I like that it’s an event he and I can do together.”
In addition to her grandpa, Emma looks up to her dad who is a retired rodeo athlete turned coach to Emma and her sister, Skyler. Skyler (16) also competes in the SDHSRA and recently participated in the 20X Extreme Showcase. The sisters frequently practice together, while their older brothers, Dylan and Joseph, retired from rodeo after high school. “Dylan is the emergency equine surgeon at Kansas State University, and Joseph works at a bank not far from us in Redfield,” Emma explains. “He has two girls, Regan and Krue. I think they’ll probably end up rodeoing!”
Emma, Skyler, and their parents, Joe and Alisa Lutter, call several acres outside of Zell their home. Emma attends school ten miles away at Redfield High School, where she’s doing an independent study of Animal Science. “I want to go into Animal Science at SDSU and become an animal nutritionist. I recently did the anatomy of a horse, and now I’m working on embryo transfers in horses,” she says. Although she has been the school’s volleyball team manager the past two years, rather than play sports, Emma has ridden colts for her grandpa the past three years after school. He raises Quarter Horses, while her own family raises Belgians, which they occasionally drive in parades and even use for sleigh rides in the winter. “We’re always moving 50 different directions!” Emma says with a laugh.
When she’s not riding horses for her grandpa, Emma is out practicing on her own horses. Her mount in the barrels and poles is Molly Joe, an 11-year-old mare the family took all the way to Montana to sell before buying her back. “She had a rough start before we got her – she was really jumpy – but I trained her myself and she’s recovered,” says Emma. She and her mare, Memphis, also get along well in the reined cow horse and roping, while she uses Haida, her grandpa’s horse, for cutting.
If any free time remains at the end of the day, Emma enjoys beading on a loom, her most recent projects including a headband, while she is working on a belt at present. But her preference is to be outdoors, and with state finals on the brain, she is working on her goals, including catching more consistently in breakaway. “I’ve placed in the top six for cutting at state the past two years, and I really want to make it to Nationals this year,” she finishes. “I always try to be positive and better myself every time. I work hard at everything I do, and I like to help other people do their best too.”