Rennie Chavis isn't exaggerating when she says she's been riding horses for pretty much her entire life. Her first ride came when she was just 6 months old.

"I'd strap her in to one of those baby harnesses on my chest and hold her little head still and we'd go for a ride," Rennie's father, John, said. 

Fifteen years later, Rennie still loves riding and has developed into a talented rodeo competitor. She'll be competing in the International Finals Youth Rodeo in Shawnee, Oklahoma, starting on Sunday.

"It's exciting," Rennie said. "I enjoy getting out there and competing."

The event is billed as "the world’s richest youth rodeo." Participants will have a chance to win their share of more than $250,000 in prize money and championship saddles and buckles.

Rennie got started with rodeo at the age of 6. Her dad competed in the rodeo at the high school level and passed down his love of the sport to his daughter. 

She has already earned several accolades and most recently won a high school state championship in barrel racing. 

"I'm just thrilled to see her competing and doing well in something I once competed in," John said.

Though many may see rodeo as an individual sport, both Rennie and John said it's just like any other team sport – only in rodeo the teammate Rennie has to look out for is her horse.

Rennie doesn't practice everyday as to not overwork her horse, Tiny Panama – who is also known as Princess. When they do practice, which is usually twice a week, the sessions usually run at least two hours.

"It's hard, but it's very rewarding," Rennie said. "It's unique because it's a team of two. It never feels like it's just you out there."

Rennie will compete in cowgirls barrel racing and team roping at the International Finals. After wrapping up in Oklahoma, Rennie will travel to Rock Springs, Wyoming, for the High School Nationals from July 14-20.

​Eric Russell is the multimedia editor at the Aiken Standard. Contact him at 803-644-2396.