To understand impressive ideas and ideals held by a youngster growing up on a South Dakota ranch, all one needs to do is read the essay written by Sierra Hilgenkamp.

The 12-year-old from Wall was one of several youngsters who put their thoughts on paper in an attempt to win a colt in the sixth annual Lloyd W. Rypkema Memorial Quarter Horse Award.

Rypkema, who died in 2010, was a Pennington County commissioner and member of the Rapid City school board besides being a rancher and supporter of the Black Hills Stock Show & Rodeo and the Central States Fair. For the past few years, his family has given away a colt to a youngster aged 12 to 18 from several area states who pens the best essay on why they want to own the colt and how they would care for it. The colt is from the bloodline of one of Rypkema's favorite quarter horses, Devil Cat Dancer, sired by Frost Flash, out of Sapphire Flit with Frenchman's Guy.

Sierra was named this year's winner during an announcement at the Stockman's Banquet & Ball in Rapid City over the weekend. She is the daughter of Dan and Dawn Hilgenkamp. Here is her winning essay:

My name is Sierra Hilgenkamp, and I am 12 years old. I live on 60 acres of land south of Wall, South Dakota. I have been around animals my whole life and have competed in rodeo ever since I can remember. I am a member of the Cedar Butte Challengers 4-H club, and I am currently the secretary of our club. I am also a participant in the National Little Britches Rodeo Association (NLBRA). I am also active in other sports like volleyball and basketball at Wall School. I also hope to participate in FFA when I get old enough to be in it. I also plan to compete in junior high and high school rodeo.

I have two horses I am currently competing on, named Enos and Ratchet. Enos is a 21-year-old gelding and is my breakaway partner. Ratchet is also a gelding at 13 years old. He is my barrel and pole horse, and he is actually my backup horse. I have been competing on him because my other rodeo horse, BJ, was injured this summer. I still do not know if I will ever be able to compete on him again.

My brother, Brand, and I have started our own calf company, called "BS Calf Company." Each year we buy several calves, raise them, and eventually, feed them out to sell them as packaged beef. We get up every morning, before school, to bottle-feed them and teach them how to lead. As they get older, we switch them over to hay and grain, and it gets easier to care for them. When they get big enough to rope, we use them as breakaway calves. One year, we roped them the day before we showed them in 4-H at the county fair.

When the rodeo season is over, we continue to feed them, and we up their grain portions. My brother and I buy all of our calves, as well as their feed and vaccinations with our own money. Brand and I have set up a bank account and put all the money that we earn from our company into the account. This is how we pay for all of the expenses. This will be our fourth year of being in the calf business, and we really enjoy it. It has taught us how to manage money, and it has been a great experience for us. When we go off to college, we will split the money that is in the account and use it for our college education.

If I were to win the colt, I can assure you that it will have a very good home. All of our horses are considered a part of our family and are well taken care of. I have always wanted to have a colt to be able to take care of and call my own. If I were chosen to care for the colt, my goals would be to train him by myself with guidance from my mom and dad. It has always been a dream of mine to learn how to train a colt and be able to mold him into a horse that I can compete on at rodeos. By using him at local brandings and helping the neighbors move cows, it will help start him on the road to becoming a rope horse. Roping is what I love, and I would like to train him to be my breakaway and team roping horse. It would be nice to have a young horse to bring up and train because all of my other horses are getting old. By having a young horse, I would be able to use him in high school and college rodeos, maybe on to amateur rodeos also.

My desire to challenge myself and learn to work with a young horse will be an experience that I will treasure forever. This experience would help me expand my skills for the future to become a better horseman. Thank you for considering me for the 2017 Lloyd W. Rypkema Memorial Quarter Horse Award.

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