Jordan Church has been riding a horse since, well, pretty much ever since she could walk.

Pretty much all my life,” said Church about how she has ridden a horse.

Now Church, a 16-year-old Butterfield Charter High School sophomore, has qualified for her first California State High School Rodeo Finals with her horse, Angel, to be held next week in Bishop. Church will compete in her two go-rounds in the event on Thursday.

Church qualified in pole bending as she finished second in the standings in District 6, which covers Central California, to qualify for the state finals.

At the state event next week Church will also be running for state office and will serve as the student pole bending director during the state finals. While at the state rodeo finals, Church will also compete at the State Trap and Rifle Shooting contests.

Since pole bending is a popular event for girls, Church was especially proud to qualify for state in the event. “It feels really good,” she said. “There's a lot more girls competing against each other. I feel real good that I made it.”

There will be competitors from nine districts throughout California competing in the state finals. After the two go-rounds, the top 15 will qualify for the short go-round to be held a week from today, Saturday, June 12.

The top four overall finishers will qualify for the National High School Finals Rodeo to be held in Lincoln, Ne., July 18-24.

Church said her fastest time in the event is 21.6 seconds. The fastest riders, she said, are in the 19-20 second range, so it figures Church will need to lower her time to make it to nationals.

But she's not counting herself out. “I think I can do it,” she said. “If I can make a couple good runs I'm confident that I'm capable.”

Church, though, won't be focused on her time. She will be focused on not hitting any of the poles so she won't receive any penalties that will add to her time. “My goal actually is to just make two smooth runs and not knock down any poles,” she said.

Church trained Angel herself. “I got used to her, got a feel for her,” she said. “She's been awesome. Every rodeo she's just really improving.”

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