Stein sisters rodeo champs; head out west for nationals

   On most Friday nights from May to August, youíll find Kasey and Kelly Jo Stein of Wheatland, flying across the Caledonia Fairgrounds on a quarter horse, zipping around barrels and weaving around poles. Their weekends are spent the same except they first must travel across the state to rodeo competitions in the Albany area.

   Kasey, an eighth grader and Kelly Jo, a sophomore at Cal-Mum School, have been riding for more than eight years and participating in western rodeo horse events for two years. They are regulars at the fairgrounds horse gaming nights. All of it good practice for their May 31, 2009 competition in the National High School Rodeo Association state championship, where both of the Stein sisters earned a championship honors and the opportunity to compete at the NHSRA national rodeo competition this summer in New Mexico.

   Kelly Jo was named the Wrangler Champion in pole bending and barrel racing at the state competition. The distinction qualifies her for college scholarships and other awards in addition to receiving the event champion patch for her competition shirt. She will compete with the Wrangler High School All Star team at the NHSRA national competition in Farmington, New Mexico on July 19.

   Kasey was named champion in Wranglerís Junior High Division for barrel racing and reserve state champion in pole bending. Her performances earned her a spot on the Wrangler Junior High rodeo team that will be traveling to Gallup, New Mexico on June 28 for the 5th Annual Wrangler Junior High Finals Rodeo. Kelly Jo and Kasey will compete against more than 1,000 riders from across the country and Canada for prizes, scholarships and the national championship title.

   Their outstanding performances also earned the teens Rookie of the Year honors at the competition held at the Double M arena in Amsterdam, N.Y.

   Gist Silversmiths of Placerville, California initiated the HSDRA Rookie of the Year awards program eight years ago as a way to recognize outstanding first year junior high and high school rodeo athletes.

   A great deal of responsibility goes with the territory of owning and riding their own horses. Kasey and Kelly Jo are up at 5:30 a.m. to feed and care for the 12 horses owned by their family. After morning chores they get ready for school and catch the school bus where they complete some of their homework. Both teens are high honor students, three-sport athletes and sing in the school choir. Kelly Jo was selected to participate in the HOBY Leadership conference held last weekend at Rochester Institute of Technology. After arriving home from their games, the girls return to the horse barn to perform their evening chores. A shower and homework tops off their school nights. They also help out at the main dairy farm when time permits. The teens do not complain, they accept that time and work comes with the territory of becoming accomplished western rodeo riders.

    Instead, the girls give credit to their father and mother, David and Katie Stein, owners and operators of DND Dairy Farm, a 400-head cow operation in Wheatland, N.Y. After a long week working on the farm, David drives his two daughters and their horses, Tex, Dozer, Gopher and Canook, to the competitions in Albany, leaving Katie behind to not only run the farm, but also care for the two younger siblings, Dillon and Kerri, who are also very active in sports and school activities.

   The trip to national competition in New Mexico will have the family performing a major juggling act since the junior high and high school level competitions are in different cities. David, Kasey and Kelly Jo plan to drive across country with two of their horses for the late June junior high competition. After Kasey competes in Gallup, the family will fly home, leaving the horses behind at a boarding stable. Two weeks later, they will fly back to New Mexico for Kelly Joís competition in mid-July. David will drive back to New York with the two horses after Kelly Joís competition.

   The girls try to find time to ride their horses every day. Last year at this time they rode their horses on to the Hamilton Field Sports Complex for Cal-Mumís graduation ceremony for a beautifully choreographed performance to the song, "Proud to be an American." The riders carried the Cal-Mum school flag and the American flag for the performance. While that performance evoked a lot of emotion from the graduates and everyone who watched, it is their rodeo performances that are high risk and safety is a concern, said their father. But, he says, itís just part of rodeo riding, and so far, the girls have only encountered minor accidents.


Junior high rodeo champion Kasey Stein, an eighth grader at Cal-Mum Middle School,
will compete in pole bending and barrel racing events at national rodeo on June 29, 2009.


Kelly Jo Stein, a Cal-Mum sophomore and National High School Rodeo champion,
will compete in poles and barrels at New Mexico national rodeo on July 19.