As of Tuesday, June 28, 2016
A tiny blonde head bouncing atop an American Paint Horse can be seen riding throughout the county and often at the Grangeville Border Days Arena.
Kira Bentley, 7, sits straight and tall on “her” 15.5-hand horse, Rebel.
“Rebel’s my horse,” the soon-to be-third grader smiled, blue eyes twinkling.
Truth be told, Rebel belongs to her sister, Stephanie, 22. However, when Kira’s horse, Dan, who was 24, died last year, she took over Rebel as her own.
Just short of five weeks ago, Rebel gave Kira something that really is hers: a little look-alike filly.
“I named her Sassy at first but my sister and I were going through names and the baby wasn’t really acting sassy. So we decided on Fancy and now she acts fancy,” smiled Kira.
Since she was about 3 years old, Kira has been participating in barrels and other gaming events at O-Mok-Sees and play days. She has often been seen being led by mom Shelly, dad, John, sister Stephanie and even big brother, Chase, 16.
This year, on Family Night at the rodeo, Friday, July 1, Kira will ride barrels alone. It’s not entirely a new feat as she has been pleasure riding alone since she was 5.
“I like riding at the Border Days Arena best,” she grinned.
Shelly has been riding most of her life, as has Stephanie, who trained Rebel.
“As a matter of fact, when I was pregnant with each of them I was riding,” recalled Shelly. “It’s kind of in our blood.”
Stephanie will help train Fancy and, one day, Kira plans to ride her little filly. Right now she is desensitizing her and helping with training. Fancy runs alongside her mama as Kira trots Rebel through and around the arena.
“She lets me catch her and pet her and I can pick up her feet and look in her ears,” Kira said, showing how she checks for thorns in the little horse’s hooves after sliding down off Rebel.
One thing Kira has to get used to for running barrels is the saddle.
“At White Bird she was a little overwhelmed and told me she couldn’t feel Rebel – it’s because she loves to ride bareback,” Shelly explained. Kira nodded as she got a boost back onto Rebel and ran her hands through the horses’s mane, gently kicking her feet into her sides.
Shelly said she knows Kira isn’t “in the money,” and that’s okay, she said.
“She’s learning and that’s what it’s about, to do it and not be afraid, and to just keep getting better and more confident as she grows older,” she emphasized.
When asked if she wants the crowd to cheer for her Friday night, Kira’s big smile answered the question best as she nodded.
“I love the rodeo,” she said.