Settled state of mind

Sophomore competes in horseback riding show


Courtesy of Mitchell Bradshaw

Sophomore Mitchell Bradshaw competes at the Sheriffs Posse Franklin County Youth Rodeo. Bradshaw has been horseback riding for 14 years since he was three.

Over the course of five days, the smell of flat straw mixed with leather heightens as sophomore Mitchell Bradshaw arrives to the conglomeration of riders and horses each ready to earn the trophy or ribbon. He takes a moment with his Morgan horse, Suzie, as his mind switches to race mode.      

Bradshaw competed in the Big D. Charity Horse Show starting at noon on Wednesday, April 21 through Sunday, April 25. The first place winner receives a ribbon and trophy, and the second through sixth receives a ribbon.

“[Bradshaw hoped] to successfully ride and compete,” Bradshaw said. “[Bradshaw’s goal was] to at least place somewhat in the span of ribbons.”

Bradshaw helped video the charity show for their livestream. 

“Because it is COVID-19, most people cannot actually come to the horse show but have to watch the livestream of the horse show,” Bradshaw said. 

Sophomore Mitchell Bradshaw goes around his first barrel during a rodeo. Bradshaw rides in both English and Western styles. (Courtesy of Mitchell Bradshaw)

Bradshaw competed in the hunter class, which includes academy, walk, trout and canter, and won the third place ribbon at the show.

“His sense,” mom Torri Hensen said. “He has always had a really good feat on a horse, where if a horse starts doing something or moving around, you stay settled. You don’t get rattled. [He knows] the progression of how he gets to know the horse, and gets to know how to calm them down.” 

Bradshaw’s step-mom, mom, sister and brother horseback ride as well. Bradshaw’s horse riding family supports him in the academy, walk, trot and canter event for English riding and in poles, barrels and steer wrestling events for rodeos.

“It helps me because then I know someone else,” Bradshaw said. “I know really well that can help me through things that I don’t really understand about the horse.”

Bradshaw has been horseback riding for 14 years. He started riding English when he was three then started rodeo. He now does both events. 

“The relationship you can develop between your horse and you is a very important connection that can help release stress from our lives,” Bradshaw said.

Bradshaw began riding with a coach at Mill-Again Stables in Plano, TX. Now, Bradshaw trains without a coach instead turning towards his family for advice.

“If there is an extra horse handy, we can go out riding and that’s what’s fun,” Hensen said. “You can go trail riding or be out there. I could get on if he was having a hard time seeing something on the horse I could hop on, and then he could see it like ‘Hey this is what you need to do’ or try and keep him this way. It gives you a visual cue.”   

Bradshaw’s dad and step-mom own a farm with five horses in East Texas where Bradshaw and his siblings ride horses. 

“I try to be there whenever they ride to help coach,” step-mom Kelly Carr said. “Reminding, don’t forget to do this part, loosen your turns and slow your hands down, remember to do your slow work to build up to your speed then do a fast run and then come back and go slow again.

Bradshaw plans to train to become a professional rider in the future.

“By practicing and getting more techniques that I know of and start entering myself in professional rodeos and professional shows,” Bradshaw said. “Then eventually one day own my own farm.”

When Bradshaw isn’t practicing at the farm, he practices at his cousins barn in Rockwall where he rides on a different horse.

“He [Bradshaw] ignores her [his horse] attitude and is like ‘No we’re gonna do this,’” Carr said. “He is such a happy go lucky person. She loves it. She sees right into that, and she’s like ‘Well he’s happy so I’m happy.’ They go and compete, and they just keep getting better and better and better.”