With the fall school sports season well underway, moms and dads by now should be accustomed to hauling their kids to soccer practice, football or volleyball games.
In Newburg, Scott and Samantha Hedge and their four children are gearing up for their sport of choice — rodeo — which will put them on the road each weekend for the next couple of months.
"Come October, we will be in some part of Missouri for a Saturday or Sunday event," said Samantha.
Her 13-year-old son, Tanner, is already on the leader board in the Missouri High School Rodeo Association's Junior High bull riding division.
Three years ago, if you would have told Samantha that this would have been the case, she would have laughed and laughed.
The Hedges are not a bull riding or rodeo family by design. As Samantha tells the story, they stumbled upon all of this several years ago.
"Tanner wanted to give it a try two years ago," said Samantha. "And then Cole (age 8) wanted to give sheep riding a try."
They connected with the local chapter of the Championship Youth Bull Riding Association in Iberia and were welcomed with open arms.
"They were just wonderful," said Samantha. "It was all about the family and the kids. The 'team' there just took our kids under their wings."
The Hedges' 7-year-old daughter, Kennedy, is now hooked on sheep riding and Tanner's twin brother, Trent, is into roping and training horses.
In no time at all the Hedge kids have been winning awards and belt buckles left and right. In their first competitive rodeo two years ago in St. Robert at the Secrest Indoor Arena, both Tanner and Cole were top winners.
In August, the family was in Abilene, Texas, where Tanner placed 10th in the youth bull riding world finals out of 80 riders in his age bracket.
Tanner told the Daily News that he has gotten over that initial fear that he had when he got on his first 1,000 pound bull.
"Now, I just stay positive and tell myself that I can do this," he said. "The key is to stay square and stay centered on the bull. Then, I just ride him jump for jump."
Tanner's father, Scott, couldn't be more proud.
"Tanner knows what he is doing," he said. "And, in fact, none of my kids have had any formal bull riding lessons. The only practice they really get is that we have several head of horses and I tell them to get on bareback and work on balance and coordination."
Last summer alone the Hedges put more than 6,000 miles on their family vehicle going from rodeo to rodeo. With this season just getting underway, the family is expecting to add many, many more miles to the odometer in the next 12 months.
Page 2 of 2 - However, Samantha isn't complaining. She wouldn't have it any other way. "I love it," she said. "I live, eat and breathe bull riding."