Sixty-seven-year-old barrel racer June Holeman isn't about novelty.
Sure, a lot of descriptions of her begin with "oldest..", but the end of most of those sentences tell about her impressive accomplishments in rodeo.
Like "oldest competitor to reach the National Finals Rodeo," which she became in 2005.
Holeman realizes her age is what brings her the most attention, but she doesn't keep going because she has nothing else to do.
"Trying to get back to the NFR," Holeman said. "I guess that's why most of us pros are on the road. I guess I still hold the record for being the oldest one there, but if I could get back now, no one would ever break that record."
Holeman will compete tonight and Saturday in a Pro Rodeo Cowboys Association Prairie Circuit event at Hartman Arena.
The Prairie Circuit features competitors in eight events from Kansas, Oklahoma and Nebraska attempting to reach the NFR next spring.
A native of Arcadia, Neb., Holeman's desire to reach the NFR is most evident in her decision to switch horses, at least temporarily.
She's been riding Sparky for more than 10 years. But Sparky is 21 and his body has begun to fail.
"His back is out, his hip is out," Holeman said. "He gets hurt and he doesn't get over it, so I chiropractor him every now and then. He's getting higher maintenance from hauling down the road.
"It's been a long time. Longer than I ever, ever rode on my horse. I used to ride them and sell them every single year. I will never sell him."
It's no surprise that Holeman has formed an emotional connection with Sparky. She's been around horses her entire life and even rode one to school until she was in eighth grade.
Holeman was taught how to ride and train horses by her parents and siblings and traveled to horse shows in other small Nebraska towns.
"There wasn't a lot of rodeos around, but really, every town had those horse shoes and games and fun things to play at them," Holeman said. "That's what we were raised on. Burwell, Neb., was the closest one to me. I caught the bug up there thinking maybe I could do that."
Holeman passed on her love of horses to her children, but the pairing turned tragic when her daughter, Tammy Mohr, was killed in an accident with a colt in July 2009 — no one is sure exactly what happened.
Mohr was often Holeman's primary trainer and their connection was deep. But Mohr never thought of giving up riding horses.
"A person can't quit over it," Holeman said. "Things happen, and there we don't even know what."
Holeman badly injured her leg after being kicked in 2004. She underwent surgery and was at risk of amputation. She recovered and continues to ride because it means something to her contemporaries.
"Mostly the older ones that quit," Holeman said. "They can't run anymore because either they're old or because it's hard to start on another horse."
Besides inspiring others, Holeman also continues because she thinks she can one day be the best.
"I'm a competitor," she said. "I train some at home, but I'm a competitor. I can't just train, I've got to run. It's kind of one or the other. I don't mind training, but I've got to see what (the horses) can do then. I guess I like that pressure because I've got to go against the other girls."