Meet Sponsored Rider: Sonya DeHaven
You have not met a sweeter person than Sonya DeHaven. At forty years young, Sonya is married to Jason and is the proud mother of four children, Tylar, Dylan, Charley, and Faith, ranging in ages from twenty to three. Although she only started barrel racing three years ago, Sonya is addicted to the friendly, competitive spirit and comaraderie of the sport. Naming family as her biggest blessing, it is no surprise the thing Sonya enjoys most about the Rodeo is that it seems like One Big Family.
Born into an Airforce family, Sonya is the third daughter of four. Most of her life was spent growing up in the south, particularly Louisiana. Although she was not allowed to have horses growing up, Sonya said she always found a way to be near animals. “Since we were a military family, we lived in base housing so having horses wasn't permitted. We could only have small animals that could be easily moved in a hurry. I have always found a way to bring home every sick animal, insect, bird or lizard. I have a way with animals and have always loved them.” This love for animals eventually led her to pursue becoming a licensed Veterinary Technician and Pet Groomer. From her home on the DeHaven Farm in Virginia raising cattle, to her work at the Maple Hill Arena, Sonya now gladly finds herself surrounded by animals and the rodeo. Although still perfecting her barrel racing, Sonya is hoping to expand her rodeo sports to include pole bending, team roping, breakaway roping, and possibly goat tying. “I am always working on improving something. There is always something… you can learn from someone, you just have to be open to being taught.” Practicing during the week is not all about running barrels, as Sonya strives to keep her mare’s mind sharp. “During the week it’s mostly conditioning and slow work only once. [My mare] knows her job so I keep her mind on other things when she is not running barrels…Trail riding, tracking the dummy, chasing cows, and changing up exercises.”
Sonya competes in several rodeos throughout the year such as the National Barrel Horse Association Rodeo, Pennsylvania Timed Series, the local Maple Hill Series and others in between. One of her favorite rodeos that she and her family never miss is the Cowgirls with a Cause (CWAC) Rodeo. This four day event in November has been successfully raising funds for Breast Cancer Awareness and medical treatments since 2004. The weekend features a men’s barrel racing night on Thursday and then the ladies take over with barrel racing and roping events. Before competing, Sonya calms her nerves by saying a prayer and telling her family she loves them. With coaching from her sister-in-law, Sonya has been able to find her rhythm with both of the horses she competes on and recently placed with both. Rodeo sports are definitely a family affair as her husband ropes, and her two youngest kiddos also compete. “[Charley,] my five year old, can head or heel just about anything and he lopes around the barrels already. My three year old barrel races and ropes the dummy. They want to do everything.” Although the two older boys focus their hobbies more on riding dirt bikes and four wheelers, they too will pick up a rope while the family practices. When Sonya is not barrel racing, she is keeping her hands busy with farming, drawing, and speaking her family’s second language, American Sign Language. “We are a close family and we tackle everything together. I love it and couldn't imagine my life any other way.”
We are proud to have Sonya as part of our Ropes for Less, Sponsored Rider Family and look forward to seeing her and her family compete this rodeo season!
Written by Kara Grimes
- Burge Linton