By ROBERT DIGITALE
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
‘‘Rodeo is my life,” says Santa Rosa High freshman Cierra Hubbard.
The 14-year-old Hubbard last year was named the all-around junior high cowgirl for the National High School Rodeo Association’s district that includes much of Northern California.
This year, she will be competing at rodeos in Lakeport, Red Bluff, Ferndale, Covelo, Plymouth and Bishop.
Her goal: To be named rookie high school cowgirl of the year.
“I like rodeo because I really like horses and I like competing and I like the events,” Hubbard said. “It’s just something I got into and automatically fell in love with.”
Hubbard lives in Windsor with her mother, Cindy Hubbard, and her grandparents, Russ and Sally Oroszi.
She long has been attracted to horses. At age 10, she volunteered with the Howarth Park pony rides and went on to try English riding and jumping.
But a new chapter in her life began after her grandmother helped rescue a horse from Washington state and had it brought to Windsor. At the property where they boarded the horse, Hubbard met a girl who competed as a barrel racer.
“She got me into barrel racing,” she said.
Hubbard began rodeo competition in sixth grade. She later acquired a quarterhorse named Josie. At first, the mare was “deathly afraid of barrels,” she said.
But Hubbard worked with the horse until she got used to the barrels. And last year, Josie helped Hubbard become the district barrel racing champion for her age group.
Today, her life is filled with caring for horses each day after school and training several days a week.
Standing just a little more than 5 feet tall, Hubbard is competing this year in six events, including cutting, where a horse with little direction from its rider keeps a cow from returning to the herd. For these events, Hubbard uses four different horses, including two mounts provided by friends Teresa Canada of Santa Rosa and Domenic Cianfichi of Santa Rosa.
Along the way, she has received plenty of training from adults. Buzz Bozzini of Sebastopol gave her roping lessons; Brandis Langston of Oakland teaches her cutting; and Rod Hagge of Santa Rosa has helped her with breakaway roping, an event for women where the riders try to rope calves.
The man who has made the biggest effect on her life is Cianfichi, who Hubbard says spent hours teaching her about rodeo events. Among other things, he taught her heeling, roping the hind legs of a steer. Cianfichi also worked with her in barrel racing, even having her ride bareback.
“He made me a stronger rider,” she said.
Cianfichi also bought her first steer for showing at the Sonoma County Fair. He has been “pretty much like a dad to me,” she said.
At Santa Rosa High, Hubbard takes part in FFA. Her favorite courses involve agriculture, and this semester she is taking three such clasess.
After high school, she wants to attend a college with an agriculture program, preferably one like Cal Poly San Luis Obispo that has a good rodeo team.
Her plan is to one day become an agriculture teacher because she enjoys the subject and “I just want to keep the FFA in my life.”
Another benefit, she said, is “I can have the summers and the weekends off so I don’t have to quit rodeo completely.”
You can reach Staff Writer Robert Digitale at 521-5285 or firstname.lastname@example.org.