7-18 hannah at IFYR.jpg

Nice ride Latta High graduate Hannah Cochran races around the poles atop her horse, Dudley Duwright, during the pole bending competition Wednesday night at the International Youth Rodeo Finals held at the Heart of Oklahoma Exposition Center in Shawnee. Last month, Cochran won the State 4-H Barrel Racing championship.

Photo courtesy cowboyimages.net

Ada Evening News:  First of all, just give me your thoughts about this year’s IFYR in general.

Hannah Cochran: “This year's IFYR has been incredible. It went from rain to heat for starters. We checked in on Friday and the temperature was amazing. Then, Sunday, we had to go back for orientation, Oh man it got hot. It was kinda funny because when we got to the pen,  there was grass growing in it from all the rain. We were all waiting around on the draw that day, and they sent us home because storms were coming. It was a slop pit on Monday and Tuesday, but by my day to run (Wednesday) the pen was awesome. I guess with it being so crazy up there, everyone kinda got to know each other better thanks to being stuck indoors and learning how to have fun when conditions aren't the best.”

AEN: I know you had a rough first ride, but were you pleased with your 21.837 in the second round?

COCHRAN: “Yes, pretty pleased. After the morning run, I just wanted my horse to run and leave (the poles) standing! I think that morning he was kinda in awe of everything, but he likes running at night when its cooler and more people are there to watch him. Normally, my dad has to walk me up to the opening of the arena, but that night (my horse) did whatever I asked. I was calmer too. I left my I-pod in and had it jamming to Nickelback. It keeps me pumped.”

AEN: Do you think a strong opening ride would have landed you in the finals?

COCHRAN: “Yeah, I think if he would have ran like I know he can, and left (the poles) up, that would have helped a lot. And even that night’s ride could have been better. But heck, how many 16.1 hand horses do you see running poles?”

AEN: You won a 4-H state title in barrel racing, and even entered that event at last year’s IFYR. So explain why you had to run pole bending at the 2010 IFYR.

COCHRAN: “It’s kinda funny actually, my mom was like ‘Are you going to enter the IFYR this year?’ I said nope, it’s too hot for Dudley, my crazy horse. We thought that was the end of it. I just planned on going up there to shop and watch. I was friends with the IFYR on Facebook, and was watching the entry numbers grow, so we got to the state 4-H horse show, and I won barrels and would have won poles had I not hit a pole. My goal was to win my three classes and be Ada's next Triple Crown winner, but thanks to the pole — epic fail. So I got finished running and had a (time of) 21.4 with a pole down and stopping in the pattern. Mom said ‘Shoot, think what could have been.’ So me and dad are walking to the trailer, and I said ‘Well maybe I should enter up there (the IFYR). By this time, barrels were full but poles were not. So I got home the next day, downloaded the forms and went to the school to get the official signatures and turned in my entry the day before it was due. Talk about last minute!”

AEN: Do you think you would have fared well if you had entered barrel racing this year at the IFYR?

COCHRAN: “Yes, barrels are his (Dudley's) event. He loves running them, and the bigger the pen the better he works. The pen up there (at the Shawnee Expo Center) is huge. He can run poles pretty well for his size, but we'd both rather run barrels any day. It was funny watching his head rise when they opened the pen, and there was six poles and not three cans. I'd like to think we could have had a shot, but what the heck we had a blast anyway.”

AEN: There were several other local students that competed in the IFYR this year but as of press time, it didn't look like any of them would make the finals. Talk about how tough the competition is at the IFYR.

COCHRAN: “The competition this year was pretty stiff. The first couple of days, the times weren’t so hot but as the weather shaped up and the pen dried, people brought their A-games. When I went to run, a 20.8 was leading poles — which isn’t too fast for up there (IFYR). I know in the barrels, the times kept dropping that Tuesday night with some well-known competitors in it.”

AEN: You were placed in the spotlight last Wednesday morning when you were chosen to say the opening prayer. How did that go?

COCHRAN: “That was an experience! When they called and asked, I thought ‘Why me? I won’t even pray out loud at church!’ So I told them yes, and thought ‘Oh dear, what am I going to say?’ I talked with one of my friends who can get up and pray in front of people without a problem, and he helped me think of what to say. I will admit, it was kinda tough that day because of some tragedies that had happened in Ada the past couple of days, but God helped me through. I began saying the prayer and was actually surprised because my voice wasn’t shaky at all — only my hand was. This would be the hand that was holding what I had written down to say. So as I’m reading what I wrote, I’m moving my head with my hand to speak.”

AEN: Latta School cleaned up at the 2010 Oklahoma State 4-H Horse Show held last month in Shawnee, including you winning the barrel racing state title in the 15-19 age group (Latta students Taylor Marion, Brittany Barr and Quaid Rich also won had strong showing). How about those Latta riders!?

COCHRAN: “Hey, it was the Latta way! I mean great things come from small places. I asked Mr. (Superintendent Cliff) Johnson if we could get a banner hung in the gym because of our greatness. We'll see how that comes about.”

AEN: How long have you been barrel racing, and how long do you see yourself doing it?

COCHRAN: “I've rode since I was 7, but didn’t start really racing until my sixth grade year — when I started my horse Dudley Duwright. He’s the one I ride now. I have rode him for eight years. He's been an amazing blessing to me — taught me how to win and lose and get back up. I plan on running for as long as I’m able to. I don’t plan on selling him, so I'll ride him for as long as he can. He's getting older, and has some problems, but we work through it. He’s a lot of work before you run. Dad calls him ‘high maintenance.’ I say he’s well taken care of. I have a couple of others that run, so we'll see how it goes.”

AEN: Probably the most famous rodeo stars from this neck of the woods are Jet and Cord McCoy of Tupelo. Your thoughts on those two guys, and did you watch the Amazing Race this past season?

COCHRAN: “Those two are pretty remarkable. Don't know them real personal, but know the other parts of the family better. But they are a great inspiration to someone coming from little towns and trying to do big things. Yes, I watched it. They should have won is all I can say. I’m a feisty girl. No one would have cut me in the airport.”

AEN: Do you have any advice to youngsters out there that would like to give barrel racing a shot?

COCHRAN: “Never give up on your dream, because they can become reality. Just be patient.”

AEN: What's next on Hannah Cochran's agenda as far as rodeo events go?

COCHRAN: “I have the (American Quarter Horse Youth Association) AQHYA world show in two weeks (Ford AQHYA World Championship July 30-Aug. 7 in Oklahoma City) on another horse of mine, then just kinda some jackpots here and there and a few big races later on. I’m trying to get my mare going so I can give Mr. Dudley some time off.”

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