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Keep Houston Press Free
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Cowgirl Diaries: Jill Moody -- Horse Once Skewered By Barbed-Wire Fence, But the Show Goes On

​True cowboys and cowgirls are hard to find, but not at the Houston Rodeo. Life on the road leads them here this time every year for the biggest rodeo in the world, where they'll ride and wrangle livestock for cash and glory. Each day, Hair Balls will spotlight one person with enough dirt on their boots to call themselves a cowboy or cowgirl -- and mean it.

Name: Jill Moody Hometown: Letcher, South Dakota Age: 45 Event: Barrel Racing

I got into rodeo when I was ten. I was the horse-crazy kid, so I joined 4-H and chose the rodeo route -- there's more opportunity in our state at a youth level in rodeo. Plus, I wasn't exposed to the horse show people.

I've won the Reserve World Champ title twice and the NFR Average title twice. My set broke a 25-year-old record for fastest time in ten runs.

I rodeo because I have a great horse, Dolly. Everything major I've won in my life has been on her. She won $260,000 just last year.

Rodeo life means living in the fast lane to the ultimate extreme. Bridles have broken on me during competitions, and once my horse ran into a barbed-wire fence. You experience all the little train wrecks in rodeo.

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I've seen rodeo change. It's not as near roughing it as in the old days. Now we all have trailers and cell phones. It's given the competitors more opportunity to be more places, with all the flights and stuff. But animals are still animals, they can only stand so much getting from point A to point B. I try not to do the marathon of being on the road the whole time.

I can't have children, because I had cervical cancer in 1996. So I have dogs. I'm the bleeding heart that rescues all the strays.

If you ask a calf roper about barrel racing, he'll say it's nothing, that it's not dangerous. But then again, I doubt he thinks his sport is extremely dangerous either.

(We asked Moody if her husband ever worries about her. He's standing across the room, and she puts the question to him. "Nah," he says. "You're a hand.")

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