It isn't too often that a brother and sister have a lot in common, but Clayton and Taylor Greig have a whole lot in common - rodeo.
The Greigs, who live just east of Estherville, are among several hundred competitors in the Iowa Junior High and High School Rodeo at the Emmet County Fairgrounds today and tomorrow.
Events start at 8 a.m. Saturday with cutting and the full rodeo at 11:30. Sunday events start with the barrels at 7:30 and the rodeo at 9:30.
Above Taylor Greig rounds the barrels.
When a lot of kids his age are playing baseball or maybe soccer, Clayton - known in the rodeo world as Bubba Greig - is riding bulls, chute dogging and ribbon roping.
In chute dogging, the competitor wrestles a steer from the holding chute to a line 10 feet away and takes the steer to the ground.
In ribbon roping, Clayton works with a girl, Emily Knust of Verdigre, Neb., who grabs the calf's neck and he takes the ribbon off the calf's tail.
Clayton, who like Taylor makes the rodeo circuit, said there are 60-70 junior-high competitors and probably 150 in high school.
Clayton actually started riding steers when he was seven. The summer before sixth grade he started riding big bulls, and before that miniature bulls.
His first time on a miniature bull got him second at Leon, and he got a paycheck.
"I was really excited," said Clayton who had just turned eight.
He was 11 when he got on his first bull.
"I went on a pretty small bull for a big bull," Clayton said. "I went about three jumps and got bucked off. It wasn't too pretty."
Clayton's buckles include his first, in 2010, from the Leon rodeo. That was followed by reserve champion in the Leon Youth Rodeo Series in 2011, reserve champion for the Tuff 'n Nuff Miniature Rodeo Association in 2012, rodeo champion in 2012 from the Leon Fourth of July rodeo and, the buckle of which he's most proud, the Dalton Baumann memorial buckle from 2013. Clayton said Baumann was known for his work ethic and sportsmanship and had the philosophy, "Go with a little bit of luck, a whole lot of faith, use your whole heart and always believe." And yes, Clayton has it memorized.
Clayton has a pretty good collection of trophies too.
The hardest thing he says is practice, or "All the hours I put in for one eight-second ride" as he put it. He practices on a barrel, rehearsing upper body movement and moving his lower body to counteract the bull's movements.
Some of his scarier moments include getting his hand hung up in the rope. Last fall he had a rotator cuff injury, but seems to be doing pretty well now.
Quite a few times he's qualified for the Tuff 'n Nuff junior nationals and in 2010 made it to the miniature bull world finals in Lincoln, Neb.
Last year he finished fifth in bull riding in the Iowa Junior High Rodeo Association competition - fourth would have taken him to the nationals in Gallup, N.M.
Clayton feels he enjoys an edge by starting his rodeo career early. He wants to ride saddle broncs and bareback in high school and when he goes to college, he plans on doing college rodeo and PRCA at the same time.
He said junior-high competitors will start having bareback and saddle steers next year, and he'll get in on that, too.
So what's the reaction of the kids in school?
"There are the people that think it's pretty cool and like to hear about it," said Clayton.
Clayton's dad Joe rode bulls in college and did calf roping. At age 29 or 30 he took up saddle bronc riding. Joe still has a picture on the wall of him riding a bronc during the Cheyenne, Wyo. Frontier Days.
At a very young age, Clayton would be watching bronc riding on TV and he'd ask his dad about it. Clayton was only two when Joe quit riding, but there were the stories - plenty of stories - to inspire Clayton.
Clayton's mom Jodie barrel raced herself and was named queen in 1983 in the United Rodeo Association Contest - representing a four-state area of Missouri, Iowa, Kansas and Nebraska.
"I've been involved with horses all my life," said Jodie. In fact, her father bought cattle from Joe's dad John. That's how they met.
Meanwhile, Clayton plans on doing some practice some real bull riding at home - on Whiplash.
In her third season of junior-high and high-school rodeo, Taylor competes in the poles, barrels and goat tying. Her first quarter horse was Chex My Shay and now she's riding Holy Moly Hang On.
So what does she enjoy the most?
"Probably the competition itself and having my horse do well," said Taylor.
Taylor observes that there are signals the rider tells the horse through the reins and feet. And when she's able to ride her horse every day she gets to know the horse and its personality.
"It seems like they know more than you know" sometimes, said Taylor.
Taylor still uses Chex, a gelding, in pole bending and goat tying, but since her new horse is faster and has a tight turning radius she's using her on the barrels.
"I think the turning is more important than fast," said Taylor.
Taylor figures it takes two years to train a horse plus a lot of continued practice.
As she eyes college, Taylor would like to go for an ag business degree and after that she'd like to apprentice with a barrel horse trainer and race herself, eventually shooting for pro rodeo.
So what does it take to be a rodeo competitor?
"You have to be an adrenaline junkie," Taylor said. "There's a lot of things that can go wrong when you're competing on animals. You have to be pretty gutsy to do it."
So what's her advice?
"You always have to be somewhere and work yourself up through the ranks and never give up."
Taylor won the year end in 1D and 2D in the Iowa Barrel Burners and qualified for bonus race nationals, placing in the top quarter.
Also participating in track, band and choir, Taylor admits to being totally devoted to rodeo - to the point that she had to sacrifice volleyball and a semester of band.
She says competing at home puts a lot more on her too.
"I'm hoping a lot of people come out to watch," said Taylor. "It puts a little more pressure on me."