Young Diné roper to represent N.M. as Gallup hosts last NJHFR event

By Quentin Jodie
Navajo Times

LOVINGTON, N.M., May 30, 2013

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(Courtesy photo – Pounding Hoovers Productions)

Hadley Yazzie pulls back his slack during the boy's breakaway competition at the 2013 New Mexico Junior High Finals Rodeo in Lovington, N.M. on May 25-26. Yazzie finished the season in first place.

F To some degree, Coyote Canyon, N.M., cowboy Hadley Yazzie went into a funk.

After leading the year-end standing in the boys' breakaway for much of the season, Yazzie dipped into third place after his first-round draw at the New Mexico Junior High School Rodeo Association state finals in Lovington, N.M. on Saturday.

"I thought I drew a nice calf, something that I can throw in three flat," Yazzie confessed.

But in the midst of that run he ran into some trouble, as his calf didn't have the strength to break the string mounted on his saddle horn.

"I got out good on him but when I pitched my slack and stopped my horse that calf was too weak to break the string," he said. "I had to turn the other way and run so I was kind of long on my run."

He finished his run with a time of 4.58 seconds and placed 10th in the go-round and earned one point towards the year-end standings.

In the next round, Yazzie fared much better and placed fifth despite turning in a 6.28 run. The two combined runs put him in third place in the average race before the participants came back on Sunday night for the championship round.

"I was late from the barrier and my horse did not want to run," Yazzie said of his second go-round run. "I just wanted to be consistent and everything worked out."

Heading into his final run, Yazzie was still holding onto to that third slot but that all changed when his calf snapped his breakaway string right outside the roping chute in 2.62 seconds.

"For a minute there I thought I had ear-topped him but it looked right so I pulled my slack back," he said, while adding that his horse, Smoothie, did her job by giving him that shot.

"She broke pretty hard to the barrier and she got me where I needed to be to win it," he added.

With that, Yazzie earned 10 points by winning the short round and after all the numbers were tallied he earned another 10 points for placing first in the average, which ultimately earned him the state title.

At the finals, the 13-year-old racked up 26 points and finished the year-end standings with 71 points, which was four points better than Roberto Galaz.

"It feels pretty good because last year I missed making nationals by two slots," Yazzie said when asked about finishing on top. "I just knew I had to be consistent."

He credited his family for preparing him, especially his dad, Donovan Yazzie, a tie-down roper in the Professional Rodeo Cowboy Association.

"My dad said the professional ropers take about two, three swings out of the box before they are getting off their horse," Hadley said. "In order to win, he told me that I had to take two, three swings so I practiced that on my dummy."

As for nationals, the third-year generation cowboy said he's looking forward to representing New Mexico and he's hoping to make some noise before the finals moves to the Midwest next year.

"This is the only time my whole family can watch me (perform) since it's in Gallup," he said.

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