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FOR THE KIDS / JUNIOR RODEO : Barrel Racer Brings Winning Attitude to the Ring


Audra Biederman had one chance to race her palomino horse around the barrels at the Junior Grand National competition in San Francisco last month.

The 18-year-old Thousand Oaks High School senior rode so hard for 15.79 seconds that she didn't even hear the crowd of 5,000 cheering her on as she took first place in the statewide competition.

"It was a rush," she said. And a feat she hopes to duplicate this weekend during the Conejo Valley Days Junior Rodeo on Friday night. She will be in the barrel racing event, as well as the pole bending event, which is similar to a slalom course.

About 100 kids, 5 to 18 years old, are expected to compete in the Junior Rodeo Assn. events ranging from goat-tying to steer riding. This is not for sissies. And Audra is no sissy, although she's barely 5 feet tall and weighs 107 pounds.

She fractured her ankle in three places last summer when her horse slipped in the mud and fell on top of her. But that didn't stop her from competing. With help, she altered her stirrup so it would fit around her cast.

"I couldn't even get on by myself," she said.

This is her third year of rodeo competition and her winnings include 20 buckles and a saddle. Her goal is to win the world title in barrel racing. But after graduation, she plans to attend Pierce College, where she will take horse training classes.

"I want to be in the horse industry--training, managing or breeding," she said.

She already has had a taste of horse training with her own horse, Tesoro, which she bought for $1,500 in 1989.

"That's a steal," she said, although the horse was "greenbroke," having had little previous training. Thanks to her work with the horse, his name--the Spanish word for treasure--now fits him better.

"I've been offered quite a bit of money for him," she said. But she's not about to sell. "We clicked. We're a team. When we're both on we're unbeatable--then we have our off days."

Audra didn't start riding until she was 13, renting horses from the Two Winds Ranch in Newbury Park. She hung out there with some of the other horse-crazy kids doing chores.

"Hard labor cleaning up poop and taking horses to water," she said, laughing. "It was the best way to learn." It was there that she learned how to barrel race. And now she boards her horse at the ranch.

Among family members, only her mother rides, but her parents trek around with her to the slew of rodeos she hits each year. Her family videotaped her winning ride in San Francisco last month.

"We've worn out the tape, we've played it back so many times," she said. But the video camera likely will be running again when she competes tomorrow.

Friday's rodeo in Thousand Oaks will be full of thrills. Young competitors from all over California and outside will race around barrels, rope calves, ride calves and steers, and gallop through a slalom course.

One of the gutsiest events is called "chute dogging." The contestant grabs hold of a steer's horn and neck, runs alongside when it is released from the chute and attempts to wrestle it to the ground.


The Conejo Valley Days Junior Rodeo will be held from 6 to 11 p.m. tomorrow at Janss Road and California 23, Thousand Oaks. Admission to the Conejo Valley Days site is $3 for adults, $2 for students, $1 for children 7-12 and no admission for children 6 and under. Once admission to the site is paid, admission to the junior rodeo is free. For information, call 499-1993.

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