Northeast Tarrant

Bell cowgirl has skin in the game of rodeo

Bell cowgirl Brye Eberling with her horse, Doc Holliday.
Bell cowgirl Brye Eberling with her horse, Doc Holliday. Courtesy photo

Competing in the North Texas High School Rodeo Association (NTHSRA) comes second nature to Hurst L.D. Bell sophomore Brye Eberling. That’s because she’s also a third-generation competitor, with the scars to show for it.

The first people from her family to compete in the NTHSRA were her grandparents, Raymond Yarbrough and Trudy James. They were followed by her mother, Lena West.

“I’ve been riding since I remember,” Eberling said. “It’s always been second nature to me since my mom always exposed me to her horses.”

Eberling competes in barrel racing and pole bending. She said she loves both equally and has a tough time choosing one over the other.

“They’re both really fun and both come hand-in-hand,” she said. “Poles, however, are more difficult because you’re having to weave between six poles at a fast pace, compared to just going around three barrels.”

Either way, she said they are both a huge adrenaline rush. But both also have their own dangers connected, even if they are performed correctly.

After all, riders are on horses going at breakneck speed. They are circling extremely close to barrels or going in and out, again extremely close, to poles trying to record the fastest time in the competition.

“Us cowgirls are pushing our horses to run as fast as they can, then add barrels or poles to go around,” she said. “It legitimately takes the breath out of you. This also forces you and your horse to really trust each other.”

Just as she and her horse, Doc Holliday, have a special trust.

“He has been a true blessing to me. He’s been one of the best horses I’ve ever had, and I’ve loved learning and growing with him,” she said.

“Just like there are dangers in bull riding, there are just as many in barrels or poles. I have so many scars on my legs just from hitting barrels and poles.”

And, like most who compete in rodeo, there is that one injury that tops the list. Hers also showed how tough she is, another quality familiar with rodeo competitors.

“I actually have a huge scar on my shin where a metal barrel gashed my skin open. It ended up needing stitches but I didn’t get any,” Eberling said.

Bell rodeo coach Chris Currie said that Eberling understands what it takes to be successful in her sport. He said, however, she understands her priorities and keeps them in order.

“Brye is not afraid of going after what she wants and is willing to put in the hours of practice needed to get her there,” Bell rodeo coach Chris Currie said. “She knows what is important — family, her horse and being a good person.”

Eberling hopes to expand her competition to include breakaway roping once she feels she’s reached some of her goals in barrels and pole bending. Another goal is compete at Tarleton State University, which has one of the nation’s elite programs. She wants to study interior design and business.

As for someday competing professionally, it’s not a goal. However, if life leads her on that path, she’d follow.

“It would be awesome to do that, but it’s not really a plan of mine,” she said. “I’d rather just pass my knowledge and love of rodeo to my kids.”