PRATT — Lakin Cunningham is used to getting things done in a hurry.
Cunningham just became the Reserve Grand Champion in goat tying at the Las Vegas Tuffest Junior World Championship. Her victory in the 15-and-under age group came after 12 goat tying runs in the three-day event last month, earning her $9,000 in prizes and cash.
Cunningham's achievements are of particular interest to a Pratt resident. She is the granddaughter of Glen Cunningham, of Pratt, and the late Mary Beth Cunningham.
Cunningham, who is a junior in Louisburg High School, is also Kansas High School Rodeo Queen. As queen, she has learned leadership skills and gives her an opportunity to promote rodeo to students.
"As queen, I talked with thousands of kids," Cunningham said. "I talked with kids in the Kansas City Metro area, kids who don't know what rodeo is."
Cunningham has an ultimate goal of competing at the National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas. Her passion for rodeo started when she was young and continues to be an important part of her life.
"I love rodeo. It gives me a competitive edge," Cunningham said. "It's more of an individual sport. It teaches you to be yourself with an animal."
Cunningham has been riding since she was 4 years old. Her mother's side of the family raised and trained horses so she was born into the rodeo world. She went to her first rodeo at age 6. She competed in the American Royal for nine years, Christian Youth Rodeo Association, Kansas Junior High Rodeo Association, National Little Britches Rodeo Association and now the Kansas High School Rodeo Association, Cunningham said.
She started goat tying when she was 7 then decided she wanted to do barrels.
"I wanted to do it all. It was a love of mine from the start," Cunningham said.
Both goat tying and barrel racing require the horse to go very fast. In goat tying, the competitor rides across the arena as fast as possible, jumps off the horse, puts the goat on the ground and ties its legs as fast as possible. It's the speed of the event that appeals to Cunningham.
"You have to really trust your horse when it's going that fast. It's an adrenaline rush. It's so much fun," Cunningham said.
Cunningham said she didn't have a single perfect run. While others had faster times, she was consistent and pushed through her mistakes.
Cunningham was born in Pratt and lived there until she was 4. She lives in Louisburg with her mother Kara and her siblings Lane, 14, and Liberty, 9.