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At just 13-years-old, Katelyn Littleton is focused, confident and kind. She praises her parents and teachers, and talks enthusiastically about her future.
"I'll probably go to one of the more agricultural based colleges in New Mexico or Texas because they usually have really good rodeo programs," said Littleton, who is an avid horse rider. "I would like to be either an equine chiropractor or a middle school math teacher."
Born and raised in Los Alamos, the eighth-grade Los Alamos Middle School student discovered her love of math while attending Barranca Mesa Elementary School. Her favorite subject now, she said, is math and specifically algebra. Science is okay, too, she said.
"I liked most of my teachers at Barranca Mesa but it was Miss Theresa Romero who really got me into math," Littleton said. "Miss Romero was good at teaching all her subjects but math was her specialty."
It is her mom whom she credits with giving her a love of horses. Elaine Littleton rides Amy, a gray Appaloosa, for pleasure now but used to ride frequently in horse shows. She introduced her daughter to the equestrian world.
Littleton recalls first being on a horse at age 3. She described how she likes to be able to control a horse's direction and speed.
"You can find really good friends in your horses, too," she said. "Good animal friends."
Littleton has earned many awards through the years. The first major award she remembers winning was the High Point Championship during the 2005 Los Alamos County Fair and Rodeo.
She explained there are different classes in a horse show that cover English and Western riding. Ribbons are given for showmanship at halter, English pleasure, English equitation, discipline rail, Western pleasure, Western horsemanship, barrel racing and pole bending.
During the competition, Littleton earned the highest overall score and was awarded the High Point Championship Belt Buckle.
Littleton's love of horses and rodeo competition is something she says serves her well.
"It's a very large factor in keeping me out of trouble and I've also made a lot of really good friends who ride," she said. "Both my mom and dad (Paul Littleton) have done a really good job of supporting me and they've taught me really good values."
Cheryl Lucero is another person Littleton credits for her solid way of thinking.
"Cheryl has helped me a lot with my rodeo and my overall values of life," she said. "She has five grown-up kids. Two have been really successful in the rodeo business. Cheryl has kind of adopted me since her kids are grown and helps me a lot with my barrels and things."
Littleton has five cats including Memphis, Elliot, Samuel, Ginger and One-eyed Jack. He was a shelter cat and Littleton said he probably lost his eye in a fight. Three cats live at her dad's house, one at her mom's, and One-eyed Jack lives at her barn.
Besides her mom's horse Amy, Littleton has Louie, a Red Dunn Quarter Horse she uses for barrels and rodeo. Sondee is a 25-year-old paint mare Littleton got about nine years ago. Sondee is the horse Littleton was riding when she won her championship buckle. Most of her awards have been won on Sondee because she's only had Louie for 16 months.
"Sondee is kind of retired now," Littleton said. "We mainly use her for trail rides."