Arrow-right Camera
The Spokesman-Review Newspaper

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper The Spokesman-Review

Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Duke Hanson in the National High School Finals Rodeo

By Molly Wisor The Spokesman-Review

This week, Spokane Valley teenager Duke Hanson is going on the biggest ride of his life. He’s competing in bareback horse riding at the National High School Finals Rodeo in Gillette, Wyoming.

Rodeo is in Hanson’s blood. His mother, Jennifer Hanson, grew up on the circuit.

“I got started in rodeo when I was really young,” he said. “My parents started bringing me to rodeos when I was only about knee high to a grasshopper.”

Hanson, a junior at East Valley High School, got his start in rodeo riding steers, then bulls, and now bareback horses.

Although being on the back of a bucking horse with nothing but a leather rigging – Hanson described it as a “suitcase handle” – might seem intimidating to some, Hanson loves the experience.

“It feels pretty good when you get out there and you know you’re having a good ride,” he said. “It makes you feel free.”

Hanson’s fearlessness doesn’t keep his mom from worrying about him when he’s in the ring.

“I’ve been known to hold my breath until he hits the ground,” she said.

But she’s able to keep her eyes open enough to photograph his rides.

“It helps to be looking through the camera lens rather than live,” she said.

The 16-year-old said he felt good going into his first ride Monday, but his time in the arena ended early when he made a mistake out of the gate. His feet were too low on the horse, violating the mark-out rule and causing his ride to be disqualified.

“I was excited at first,” he said. “But then I was a little nervous when I got out there and realized my mistake.”

Despite his challenges on Monday, Hanson is ready to get back in the saddle – more accurately, back in the place where a saddle would usually sit. He rides bareback again on Friday.

“Right now, I’m probably most excited for my next horse,” he said.

His initial disqualification isn’t enough to get any of the Hansons’ spirits down.

“We always tell him to ride hard,” said Jennifer Hanson. “But we also tell him to have fun.”

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper

Local journalism is essential.

Give directly to The Spokesman-Review's Northwest Passages community forums series -- which helps to offset the costs of several reporter and editor positions at the newspaper -- by using the easy options below. Gifts processed in this system are not tax deductible, but are predominately used to help meet the local financial requirements needed to receive national matching-grant funds.

Active Person

Subscribe now to get breaking news alerts in your email inbox

Get breaking news delivered to your inbox as it happens.