International Rodeo Athletes Face Challenges Traveling to Lincoln

July 20, 2021, 5 a.m. ·

Team Mexico poses for a photo at the team volleyball tournament
Team Mexico poses for a photo at the team volleyball tournament on Tuesday in Lincoln. (Photo by Aaron Bonderson, Nebraska Public Media)

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The National High School Finals Rodeo in Lincoln is hosting athletes from all around North America, including Mexico and Canada.

Most of Team Mexico’s competitors drove about 20 hours north. Some of them flew and so did a member of Team Saskatchewan, Canada.

It costs about $3,000 for an athlete to bring their horse across the border and back. Additionally, the United States Department of Agriculture requires a horse quarantine for seven days after entering the country.

Mina Lopez is from Guanajuato, Mexico, which is four hours northwest of Mexico City. She says she is borrowing a horse from a friend in the States.

“It was actually challenging, but (in) Mexico I (got) used to (riding) other horses, you know,” she said. “That made me, like, feel more comfortable when I (got) here and (rode) a horse that I didn’t know.”

Camilo Rios says getting familiar with a horse is important for riding well in competition.

“I have to keep riding the horse to know that horse better,” he said. ”If you have (a) good chance, I mean like one week, to train with the horse it’s better, but when you don’t have that opportunity, it’s a very good challenge.”

About 14 cowboys and cowgirls from Mexico are competing in Lincoln this week. Three of those families brought their own horses from Mexico, while the rest of the team rented a horse.

Canada has more than 50 competitors in Lincoln this week. The National High School Finals Rodeo continues daily through Saturday.