Watch for these two at MVFD rodeo

Posted 6/9/22

There are many reasons to come out and attend the Mineola Rodeo July 7-9. Support for the Mineola Volunteer Fire Department likely sits at the top of the list, followed by enjoying a quality evening …

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Watch for these two at MVFD rodeo


There are many reasons to come out and attend the Mineola Rodeo July 7-9. Support for the Mineola Volunteer Fire Department likely sits at the top of the list, followed by enjoying a quality evening of family entertainment. 

Local rodeo athletes Colt Carpenter and Kirsten Riley represent a reason which can be easily overlooked – to support local participants.  

Sitting in front of a pole barn on his family’s property on County Road 3130, Carpenter expressed what rodeo means to him.

“I grew up here in that house,” he pointed, “and learned about horses and roping right here where we sit. I wouldn’t change it for anything.”

That sense of commitment and gratitude is echoed by Riley, “For me, rodeo combines a love of horses with a sense of tradition, competition and winning.” 

Both young athletes will be participating in the upcoming 59th rendition of the Mineola Fire Department Rodeo. Both are ropers. Riley will be competing in breakaway roping while Carpenter will compete in tie-down roping.

Fans may recall that Riley took second place in the breakaway event last year and walked off with some nice prize money.    

It will be tough for Riley to top last year’s performance. In fact it will be tough for Mineola to top last year’s rodeo. After a year-long absence, the rodeo returned with hundreds coming out to support the fire department last year. It was undoubtedly one of the best showings ever. 

In addition to the wholesome entertainment provided by the Flying C Rodeo Company, the good food, and pageantry, there will be a long line of competitors who are bent on making a good showing. 

Rodeo has taken Carpenter and Riley to many arenas. They both named Mineola as one of their favorites.

Riley commented, “They do such a great job staging the competition,” she explained, “from arrival and check-in to getting to the chute and competing, it is all so easy.”

Carpenter won his first belt buckle at age four – catching chickens. His father, grandfather and an aunt were rodeo athletes, so Carpenter literally grew up in the sport. With the barn and corrals just steps from his back door, working with horses became second nature. 

One of the most accomplished aspects of rodeo is the ability of a cowboy to work in complete sync with his horse. Carpenter explained, “Your horse senses everything about you. If you are nervous, that nervous energy is transmitted to the horse; if you are confident, the horse picks that up as well.”

Carpenter’s mount, “Yella,” is a palomino which Carpenter has been working for seven years. Yella came to him as a gesture of gratitude by an old cowboy, Andrew McMillan of Garland. After meeting with Carpenter and his father, McMillan sold the young horse to them for what they had at that moment in their pocket – $9.

Having just suffered an injury which ended his rodeo career, McMillan stated that it was his way of giving back to the sport of roping. Carpenter is acutely aware of the generosity and message of that act.

Years later, Carpenter admitted, that the horse is so well-trained, “All I have to do is rope.”

Riley is a bit of a late-comer to the sport, having participated in her first “lil jackpot” events at the age of ten. The rodeo bug bit her straight away.

She expressed that she can’t imagine life without rodeo right now. Presently a member of the rodeo team at Panola Junior College in Carthage, she revels in how the college treats the rodeo team as athletes.

“Panola embraces rodeo,” she stated. 

The team participates in five rodeos each semester and is led by Coach Jeff Collins, who Riley credits with much of the success of the program.

Roping event winners are determined by fractions of a second. For Carpenter and Riley, the events are a matter of extreme concentration.

“I do a lot of mental rehearsals,” Riley explained, “Rodeo is such a mental game.”

Carpenter describes a roping run with one word: intense.

Each athlete is acutely aware of the support they receive from their parents – Andy and Kim Carpenter, Holly and Brian Riley – as well as from friends and other rodeo enthusiasts. All of that support will come together in a few seconds at the Mineola Fire Dept. Rodeo one evening in early July. 

Hopefully, there will be plenty of folks cheering them on.