Sunday was the culmination of the three-day Challenge of Champions rodeo put on by the California High School Rodeo Association at Amador County Fairgrounds in Plymouth.
More than 160 students from nine California school districts competed in the event, which has been held at the fairgrounds for 17 years, according to Craig Williams, the Challenge chairman.
One of the competitors was Taylor Howell, 18, of Acton in Los Angeles County, who competed in the bareback competition finals. Howell, who has been blind since he was 1 1/2, was thrown off his horse in a matter of seconds Sunday but got to his knees and gave a thumbs up as help arrived to assist him.
Nursing his hand with a bag of ice afterward, Howell said that the he is able to compete at this level because he wasnt babied as a child. Always being pushed to do what I wanted to do rather than what everybody else wanted me to do, he said, Just determination, I guess. It might not be the same way that somebody else does it, but I find the way that works for me.
Howells athletic activities arent limited to rodeo. He has played high school football, as well as riding horses and dirt bikes.