By Shawn Werre
For Emma Lutter, rodeo runs deep in her blood.
Lutter had a weekend to remember at the Hub Area 4-H Rodeo. On July 1, she won the pole bending event, followed by a win in breakaway roping on July 2. She also placed fourth in ribbon roping and sixth in barrel racing on July 2, en route to capturing the all-around title for the day.
“It was awesome,” Lutter said of her weekend. “I was kind of surprised. It was my first all-around buckle.”
The all-around title goes to one participant per gender and age group — junior and senior boys and girls — who amasses the most total points based on how they place in events.
“This was my second rodeo this summer,” Lutter said. “I won the breakaway at Highmore (June 25).”
Lutter is on the move all summer long, traveling to various rodeos. She estimated she goes to between 10 and 12 over the course of the summer.
“We’re usually (at a rodeo) every weekend,” Lutter said, adding the season runs from the end of June to the end of August.
She noted some rodeos are larger than others and some are more established, as well.
“The biggest are Clark and Watertown, and Sioux Falls is kind of a newer (rodeo),” she said.
Aberdeen’s rodeo featured 460 entries, but that number can be deceiving, as each contestant is allowed to enter multiple events. Of Lutter’s events, she has a pair she favors.
“I like barrels, and I like to rope, too,” she said.
Lutter, 19, has been involved with rodeo since she was 8. The sport has deep roots in her family, as both her dad and grandfather also competed. Her sister, Skyler, is a regular at 4-H rodeos, as well.
“There is a lot of sibling rivalry,” Lutter said. “We were pretty close in a few events last weekend.”
While trying to get a good score or a fast time can be physically demanding, rodeo can also take mental toll as well. A poor time or score can be difficult to put behind you, Lutter said.
“It gets into my head a little too much,” she said.
A lot of the credit goes to the horse, as well as the athlete, and Lutter is quick to point out she has two good horses, Molly Jo and Memphis.
“I ride Molly Jo for barrels and poles and Memphis for roping,” Lutter said, adding her family takes care of 35 to 40 horses on their farm just outside of Zell. “My grandpa raised Molly Jo and I trained her.”
Training a horse can be a challenge, but in the end, it’s all worth it if the animal responds and learns its duties well.
“You have to season them to get them to be reliable and consistent,” Lutter said. “That can take a couple of months.”
Goals for Lutter include getting her horses in better shape, spending more time practicing and getting qualified for state in more events. She has already wrapped up state qualifications in three events thus far; breakaway, ribbon roping and pole bending. The state finals are Aug. 18-20 in Fort Pierre. To qualify for the state finals, contestants have to place in the top four of an event.
Lutter has some common sense advice for people who might be interested in getting involved in the sport.
“Practice quite a bit, don’t get too ahead of yourself and try to improve,” she said.
Follow @ShawnWerre on Twitter.
Family: Parents, Joe and Alisa Lutter; brothers, Dylan (34), Joseph (30); sisters, Jamie (24), Skyler (18).
Hobbies: Beadwork, training colts.
Favorite athlete: Barrel racers Lisa Lockhart and Mary Walker.
Currently: In fall, Lutter will be a sophomore at Lake Area Technical Institute in Watertown, majoring in physical therapy assistance.
Favorite athletic memories: Placing sixth in cutting at the state high school rodeo during her sophomore and junior seasons, and winning all-around at Brown County 4-H rodeo.