Aspen Miller has won several awards in barrel racing and roping over the years but her favorite accomplishment will be competing at the KK Run for Vegas/Jr NFR Barrel Race in Las Vegas next month.
Miller, 14, of Santa Fe will race in Las Vegas where the competition will take place from Dec. 12-16. The event will be held in conjunction with the National Finals Rodeo, the sport’s grand finale.
“It’s a big deal,” Miller said. “Not many people get to do it, so to be there is a great honor.”
Miller will be one of 120 cowgirls competing at the competition. Each of the competitors will be competing for over $130,000 in cash and prizes and a chance to earn a qualifying spot in the American Semifinals next February in Fort Worth.
At the competition, each competitor will run the cloverleaf pattern twice and the top 20 girls with the fastest two-run cumulative times will advance to the championship round. The girl with the fastest average time also will win an Exiss Trailer.
It is the first time that Miller has qualified for the competition in Las Vegas.
“I qualified going to a different barrel race that they held and got enough points to qualify,” Miller said.
Miller almost couldn’t believe it when she found out that she qualified.
“I was super excited,” Miller said. “I’ve been training for it since it started. This is the second year for them to have the barrel race and the third or fourth year for them to have the rope in so it was very exciting.”
Miller will also be competing at the Roy Cooper Roping Invitational in Las Vegas next month.
“You get invited to it and you rope different calves. Depending on how you do, you move forward.”
Miller has been competing in rodeos since she was 6, competing in a schedule that lasts all year.
“It’s usually year-round,” Miller said. “There’s usually different series. Some go through the summer and others through the winter.”
She’s won no shortage of awards over the years.
“I’ve won several saddles and several buckles just at different rodeos here and there,” Miller said.
She was born into a family that loves rodeos.
“Both of my parents did rodeo so it runs in the family,” Miller said.
Miller follows a rigorous practice schedule in order to get ready for each rodeo.
“I rope a few pins of calves, and usually work my barrel horses and just keep them in shape and keep myself in shape,” Miller said.
She practices every single day including the weekends.
“I get home and finish my homework and I start saddling up around 6 o’clock and, from 6:15-9 p.m., I’m at the practice pen with my parents before we’re done,” Miller said.
But the memories that she makes form each competition makes it all worthwhile.
“Every memory is fun,” Miller said. “Doing it with your friends and family and even though they’re your competition, no one’s really against each other. You and your horse are your team but everyone else that you compete with are your friends.”