ST. GEORGE — Izzy Coughlin, an 8-year-old rodeo competitor from St. George, will be among the 160 contestants competing in the upcoming KK Run for Vegas / Junior World Finals.
The event, scheduled to take place Dec. 10-14 in Las Vegas, is held in conjunction with the National Finals Rodeo, the sport’s annual season-ending grand finale. More than $150,000 in cash and prizes will be awarded to the young competitors from across the country, according to event organizer Kelly Kaminski.
Izzy will be riding her horse Joe Dynamite in the junior barrel racing event for girls age 12 and under.
“Izzy will be among the youngest qualified,” her mother Tara Coughlin told St. George News, adding that her daughter’s youth and small stature belies her experience, skill and competitiveness.
“She started full-blown running barrels at age 4, whippin’ and kickin’ all the way,” Tara Coughlin said of Izzy. “She loves rodeo, lives it and breathes it!”
Izzy, who is currently the top-ranked barrel rider in Utah in the fifth grade and younger category, also enjoys competing in pole bending, goat tying and breakaway roping, her mother said.
Izzy and her older sister Adi both had their former barrel horses pass away in the past year, Tara Coughlin added.
“It was quite the search to find something we felt confident in putting underneath the riders,” Tara Coughlin said. “We wanted something competitive, but first and foremost, safe.”
Tara Coughlin said they found Joe Dynamite for Adi in Texas and bought him from Rachel Primm, a successful barrel racer and trainer.
Then, for Izzy, they found a mare named Sis, who resembled the beloved horse Izzy had lost last spring.
“When Izzy had to find a new teammate, she said, ‘Mom, it doesn’t have to be fast but it has to be a palomino like my Sunny girl!’” Tara Coughlin recalled. “We bought Sis as a barrel horse. However, Izzy started running her in poles and they just clicked. They have had some great pole runs, getting as fast as 20.7 seconds.”
But when Izzy’s older sister Adi started playing high school soccer as a freshman at Dixie High School this fall, Adi’s time with horses became more limited, Tara Coughlin said.
“Izzy started to beg us to let her run Joe in the barrel racing,” Tara Coughlin said. “He is really powerful, so we were hesitant, but we knew he would take care of her. We decided to let Izzy give him a whirl.”
It turned out to be a perfect pairing.
“They were a match made in heaven!” Tara Coughlin said. “Joe loves having little Iz on him. She is a perfect jockey for the big gelding.”
With just a couple runs under their belt, Izzy and Joe qualified for the Junior World Finals in August. Then, in late November, they competed in Salina and qualified for the Jr. American Rodeo barrel racing finals to be held in Fort Worth, Texas in February.
Izzy has been working diligently to keep herself and her horse in top shape for the upcoming competitions, her mother said.
The Coughlins said they are planning to head down to Las Vegas together on Dec. 7. Earlier this summer, the family made a three-week trip to South Dakota and to Oklahoma for Izzy and Adi to compete in other rodeo events.
“We love being able to travel and do this as a family,” Tara Coughlin said. “Even Izzy’s brother Junior, who does not do rodeo, helps out by doing ‘football training,’ also known as carrying water buckets and feed.”
“Horses teach you a lot and very little of it has to do with horses,” she added.
Meanwhile, Izzy hopes to one day compete as a professional rider in the National Finals Rodeo. She also has begun training a young horse and recently started a miniature horse breeding program with her horse Paddy. who is due to give birth in early 2020.
Click on photo to enlarge it, then use your left-right arrow keys to cycle through the gallery.
Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2019, all rights reserved.