Cowetan competing in Cattlemen's Rodeo
by SARAH FAY CAMPBELL
Cowetan Mandy Jo Brooks has been riding in rodeos since she was 8 years old.
Tonight, she’ll be running the barrels at the annual Coweta Cattlemen’s Rodeo, held annually at the Coweta County Fairgrounds on Pine Road south of Newnan.
The rodeo runs tonight and Saturday, and features barrel racing, bull riding, saddle bronc and bareback riding, steer wrestling, team roping, tie down roping and breakaway roping. There will also be performances both nights by the Coweta County 4-H Mounted Drill Team.
There will kids activities, a mechanical bull for the adults, vendors selling western wear and tack, and a concession stand. Tonight is “family night,” with children admitted half price when accompanied by an adult. Proceeds from the event go to scholarship funds and local charities.
The rodeo is sanctioned by the International Professional Rodeo Association.
Brooks will probably be competing on a 4-year-old mare, but is thinking about taking some of her other young horses along as well “to get them used to all the sights and sounds and flags and clowns,” she said Thursday at her home outside Moreland. “It’s kind of an interesting experience for the young’uns.”
Brooks first started riding at the age of 4. She started off riding Tennessee Walking Horses. “I’ve been in different disciplines, western pleasure and jumping, and finally just got into barrel racing,” she said. That was when she was 8. “That just stuck. The other stuff was come and go,” she said. “I started barrel racing and I was hooked.”
Her son, Brooks Owens, barrel races, too. And he’s only 4. He was sitting on a horse as a baby, and riding by himself at about 2 1/2, mom said.
With a little one, they spend more time at horse shows than at rodeos. That way, he can ride, too.
He definitely wants to follow his mom into rodeo.
“He thinks he is going to be a bull rider,” she said. “If that is what he wants to do, I’ll support him… he loves it, he loves the barrel races,” she said. When he gets home from school, he runs to change into his cowboy boots.
These days, it’s about 75 percent horse shows and 25 percent rodeos for Brooks. “I’d rather rodeo. It’s what I love to do,” she said. But “I have to wait until [her son] gets a little older.”
What makes rodeo better?
“It’s just the excitement of the crowds, the music, getting to see different events — not just go and sit for six hours watching barrel racing,” she said. She also likes the people of rodeo. “It’s very friendly. And kind of like a big family,” she said. And rodeo pays much better when you win, she said.
But horse shows have their advantages, too. The entry fees are much cheaper and they are a good chance to practice on younger horses.
It’s particularly fun to compete in her hometown rodeo. “I’ve only missed it one year since I was 8 years old, and that was when I was pregnant,” Brooks said.
She was named rodeo queen in 2001 and did promotional work for the rodeo association.
Brooks’ life pretty much revolves around horses. She attended the American School of Equine Dentistry and is an equine dental technician, offering equine dental services.
She chose that because she wanted to work with horses but also have her own schedule so she can have time to do what she loves.
Additionally, she teaches riding classes, breaks and trains horses, and raises chickens and guineas, selling them and their eggs.
Soon, she’s going to be starting radiology school. “I want to do that so I can have more income to do what I like to do and go rodeoing,” she said.
Horses are “not really like a hobby. It’s a way of life,” she said. “You’ve just got to work to make money so you can do what you love on the weekends.”