Meet the Members Ruia Merritt

by Rodeo News

story by Magie Downare-Nevius

Ruia Merritt - JD Photography

Ruia Merritt – JD Photography

The 2014 JrSRA Finals barrel racing qualifier, Ruia Merritt, will take to her second year with the association by expanding her list of events to the goat tying. “She has been practicing really hard to get ready for this season,” mom (Bonnie) said. Competing in the PeeWee division, Ruia was able to make the organization’s finale her rookie year in the midst of switching horses, but is looking to take the next step in her competition and is aiming to win an average buckle. “She had adjusted well to the horse swap and we took last year as a learning curve. Ruia is quite the perfectionist and wants each run to be perfect, which allows her to make consistent runs. I think she definitely has the capability of finishing strong at the finals,” Bonnie said.
At only 6 years old, Ruia is not a new comer and became familiarized with the sport through her predecessors. While Bonnie grew up rodeoing, participating in every event, and continues as a SRA breakaway roping contestant, her dad (Matt) is a professional barrel man/rodeo clown and has been entertaining crowds with the PBR for approximately 15 years. “We stay on the road with him. So, between the PBR, PRCA and the IPRA, we make it to the JrSRA rodeos with Ruia,” Bonnie said. Ruia’s connection with the JrSRA has been passed down from her grandfather (Jack), who was a cofounder in the association and will carry on to Ruia‘s younger sister (Etta, 2). “Etta is ready to rodeo. She has her own pony and we lead her around the pattern. She is very excited,” Bonnie said.
Although a full rodeo schedule keeps the Olin, N.C. household busy, Ruia maintains her education as a home schooled Kindergartener, which allows her the time to ride. “She is a great student and gets good grades, but knows that she has to finish her work in order to ride at the end of the day. We try to ride everyday, weather permitting, for a few hours,” Bonnie said. In hopes of becoming a trick rider when she grows up, Ruia also enlists in gymnastics once a week. “She has inherited both sides of rodeo from her parents and would like to get into rodeo entertaining like her daddy. Gymnastics is a great way to get her started in the direction she wants to go, by learning aspects needed for trick riding,” Bonnie said.
Upon returning from the Mike White Open to the World Pasture Roping event held in De Kalb, Tex., Ruia will begin her 2015 charge in the JrSRA. After developing strengths in both events, Ruia has plans on entering the breakaway roping, which she is in the process of working on.

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