NORTHFIELD, Vt. (WFFF) — Riding is a passion for the young women at the Vermont High School Rodeo Association in Northfield. This July, five of the teens will make their way to Lincoln, Nebraska, to compete for a national championship.

Lea Krause, she’s been riding since she was 2-years-old. “It’s just as hard as a team sport,” Krause said. “And you have a 1,200 pound animal underneath you so you have to have a really good connection.” 

The young women have been practicing every day to prepare for the big event. They have all proven they couldn’t have done it without their horse. “It’s a very big accomplishment for us,” Madison Morris. “He is definitely doing his job for me, he definitely carries me everywhere.” 

There are about 1,200 riders for all the events at nationals. Lauren Luce qualified for barrel racing. “Barrel racing is like a cloverleaf pattern, it’s going in and out of the barrels and not hitting the timer between them,” she said. 

For many of the girls, getting there isn’t possible without some fundraising. “We make halters and sell them to try to get as much funds together as possible so we can get all the girls there that have qualified,” Luce said.

Coach Josh Richards focuses on their riding and horsemanship. “In the barrel industry what we are looking to have, we are running against the time,” he said. “We are running against the clock, so having a bond with a horse is so crucial.”

Even though Hope Gaboriau started riding seven months ago, she is determined. “Just follow your dreams. It takes a lot of hard work, but you can do it,” she said. 

The nationals are scheduled for July 18 to 24. The Vermont team will hold a bottle drive on June 27, at Champlain Farms Northfield, to help raise money.