About a month has passed since Darby Conrad was last atop a horse. It’s the longest stretch she’s gone without riding during her rodeo career, the result of a broken wrist she suffered May 16 after falling off the back of Princess, a 6-year-old quarter horse.
The injury led to a May 29 surgery that involved a plate and 11 screws being inserted in her right wrist.
Conrad, a Washington Boro native, is expected to be cleared to begin riding again in about three weeks. That will leave just enough time for Conrad to train for the National High School Rodeo, scheduled for July 17-24 at the Lazy E Arena in Guthrie, Oklahoma.
It’ll be the final event in the prep career of Conrad, who recently graduated from Penn Manor High School. Competing under the Maryland state banner, Conrad qualified for nationals after finishing the regular season as the state’s female all-around points leader. She was the runner-up in team roping and breakaway roping, in addition to placing third in barrels, poles and goat-tying.
The Maryland High School Rodeo last held an event in February, its regular season cut short due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Under normal circumstances, riders are required to compete at the state finals in order to advance to nationals.
“They’re waiving that requirement this year,” said Kim Conrad, Darby's mother.
Darby Conrad will compete at nationals in breakaway roping, barrels and poles, doing so on the backs of three different horses. The Conrad family will be making a nearly 2,600-mile roundtrip by truck, with the horses in tow on a trailer. As a result, the Conrads are currently raising money through a sub and pretzel sale in order to help offset the cost of the trip, which Kim Conrad estimates to be around $3,500.
“We’re still a long ways off from that goal,” Kim Conrad said.
After nationals, Darby Conrad is set to depart Aug. 13 for Iowa Central Community College, where she’ll study agricultural technology and compete in rodeo in the Great Plains region against eight other rodeo teams, including those from Iowa State, Nebraska, North Dakota State and South Dakota State.
“A couple of Darby’s future Iowa Central Community College teammates have qualified for nationals,” Kim Conrad said. “So Darby will get to meet up with and be introduced to them.”
Those interested in purchasing a sub or pretzel to support the Conrads' fundraiser can call Kim Conrad at 717-371-5205.