ESCONDIDO, Calif. -- Escondido resident Masyn Powers started her rodeo career mutton busting and six plus years later, she has grown into a rodeo rider and barrel racer who frequently beats competitors several years older than her.
For those who watch the 15-year-old ride, it's easy to understand why she always smiles.
"The competition and just being around these animals just kind of kept it going," said Masyn.
Powers began riding in 2010 and has since filled two cases with belt buckles -- the trophies earned for winning rodeo competitions -- including her most recent, 2018 Rookie of the Year for California High School Rodeo District 8.
"It was a bunch of hours training and practice all the time," said Masyn. "Being a rookie was a big challenge because it was only by a couple points."
The Escondido Charter freshman also won big in Las Vegas this year. Out of 500 entries, many of them adult professionals, she won the National Barrel Horse Association Supershow.
"She's such a good rider and she's so dedicated to what she does, it's not surprising," said Bliss Bates, Masyn's horse trainer. "It's just fun to watch her work so hard and follow her dreams and accomplish so much and have so much success."
That success came with a big challenge. Six years ago, we met Masyn and her horse Sassy, who is since retired. Masyn now rides "57," a strong, 1,200-pound horse.
"We laugh about it," said Bates. "I ask her and I'm like, is that kind of scary? Because he's so fast and turns so hard and he's a big horse compared to the first horse she started out on."
But don't let her size fool you. Standing at 5-feet tall and weighing just 100 pounds, she's considered tiny for the sport, an advantage that often works in her favor.
"Size is just size I guess," Masyn said.
"Her size and her age and how she handles these horses -- there's really nothing on that horses that she won the Supershow on," Bates said. "She's going in there just trusting him and he's trusting her and it says a lot about her as a rider."
And for Masyn, she still can't quite believe how quickly she's galloped to the top.
"Just how far we've come in these years I've been riding and how much I've learned from everybody," she said.