MD Eastern Shore cowboy is youth rodeo world champion

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Roping the world championship

Over the years, Spencer has won numerous awards. He won back-to-back state championships at the annual Pennsylvania High School Rodeo, for example, where he was allowed to compete because Maryland had no high school rodeo association. (The state started one last year). But his greatest coup as a roper came last August at the American Quarter Horse Youth Association World Championship.

Competing against two dozen other qualifying teenagers from across the country, Spencer and his horse Pure Blue Boon took first place in tie-down roping, which involves chasing a calf out of a chute, roping it, then leaping off the horse to hog-tie the calf. He also took second place in the event on another of his horses, Lynx. Contestants are allowed to compete on up to three different horses.

The event has a time limit, but winners are picked based on how they adhere to a set of technical criteria, such as how quietly the horse waits for the calf to be released.

In honor of the achievements, the Maryland Horse Industry Board in November gave Spencer its "Touch of Class Award," given monthly to Maryland horses and people who have won national or international recognition.

"Spencer represents the next generation of equine professionals who will continue Maryland's heritage of outstanding horsemanship," state Agriculture Secretary Buddy Hance said at the awards ceremony. "We are pleased to recognize a young man who has already achieved so much in his sport."

A future in rodeo?

How much more Spencer achieves is up in the air. He plans to continue his rodeo career in college. He has been accepted at Kansas State University and Oklahoma State University, both of which have rodeo teams. While he hasn't decided on a school, OSU has been his top choice, according to his mother, and he's been offered an academic scholarship there.

But Spencer has ruled out going pro. Instead, he wants to be a veterinarian and stay involved in the sport by training horses.

"I kind of want to get an education and have a job, and be able to support (rodeo) as a hobby," he explains. "I'd like to see one of my horses make it in the National Finals Rodeo (the Super Bowl of rodeo events)."

These days, Spencer has scant time for anything other than horses and rodeo. He maintains an A-minus average at Queen Anne's County High and he has a girlfriend — 18-year-old Cheyenne Jones, a fellow rodeo roper from Pennsylvania whom he met, perhaps needless to say, at a roping competition.

But other than that? "A little bit of hunting," he says. "That's about it."
Not that he's complaining. Spencer has been more than happy to spend his free time at rodeo.

"There's an enjoyment to it," he says, grasping for words to describe his passion for the sport. "I don't know how to explain it. There's a competitive drive behind it. ... It's not bland or boring. ... It's something that's exciting."

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