Teen Rodeo Queen, Barrel Racing Champion Hails From Prince George's

PRINCE GEORGE’S COUNTY, MD — Lots of teens spent their summer hanging out at the pool or the mall, working a job and enjoying a bit of downtime away from school. Morissa Hall of Upper Marlboro, who is a 16-year-old senior at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton High School, spent her summer on the rodeo circuit.

Now back in school, Hall takes all honor classes, participates in the scholar program, plays volleyball, tennis and soccer, volunteers regularly and serves on the executive board of the women’s empowerment group Seton Diamonds. She’s a member of the Grit and Grace Nation, which advocates for young women. But Hall also happens to be known on the rodeo circuit where she competes in barrel racing, pole bending, goat tying and breakaway roping.

“I like to cook, listen to music, ride roller coasters and watch Harry Potter, Marvel and Star Wars. I am passionate about musicals and can watch them over and over. I like to spend time with my dogs, cats and horses, fish, spend time with my family and love to work cattle,” Hall said.

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As the two-time Maryland High School rodeo queen, she became the first from Maryland to win any portion of the National High School Finals Queen Contest. She’s also a three-time all-around cowgirl champion, the 2022-2023 goat tying champion, barrel racing champion and a two-time pole bending champion for the Maryland High School Rodeo Team. She’s a three-time NBHA barrel racing champion in the open and youth divisions.

But before all of the awards began racking up, Hall simply fell in love with horses as a young girl.

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“Both of my parents grew up around horses. My mom’s family lived in Tennessee and my dad’s family lived in South Carolina. My parents did not own horses but they both loved to ride. I am the first one in my family to compete in rodeo. We didn’t know a lot about rodeo, but we learned,” Hall told Patch. “When I was in first grade, I asked my dad for a horse. He told me that if I earned straight As he would get me a horse, so I earned straight As for six consecutive years. Then my dad surprised me with two horses. I started riding when I was 12 years old.”

For Hall, trotting around an arena wasn’t enough. She wanted to learn to rope and ride, and her dad became her coach and teacher.

“We are self taught although we have been blessed to know some champions that offer their support. I learned how to rope and ride, with doubt, frustration, tears – and most of all ‘practice and patience.’ Rodeo isn’t a sport that you can compete in, without putting in the hours. It was difficult for me because most of the kids on my team have been riding much longer than I have, so I was constantly playing catch up. One of the main aspects of my training program that really helped me was that I practiced all winter. Most kids don’t ride as much in the winter due to the weather, but I would layer up and put on my snow pants, so I can become the best rider I can be,” Hall said.

More important than the accolades is the relationship Hall has with her horses.

“I love the connection between my horses and myself. I believe the most important aspect of riding a horse is the relationship that you have with them. He or she is your partner and you must build a trusting, loving relationship. It is so important that you make sure you invest your time in your partner. The horses give their all when you take them through that gate or box and they need to trust you will keep them safe. Spending time with your horse everyday whether you are riding, ground working or just enjoying each other’s company is the best feeling in the world,” Hall said.

When she first began riding, she was a bit nervous with all that power underneath her. But the relationship they have helped built a bond of trust.

“I believe that I’m still settling in now. Every day isn’t going to be the same when you are on the back of an animal that has a mind of its own. Horses aren’t that different from us humans. They have their good and bad days. I am more comfortable with my horses than when I first started and we have really connected. I love them and they are comforting to me when I am upset, feeling defeated or anxious, I would go out and sit in the field and read just to be close to them,” Hall said.

Her horse Wranglelena, or Lena, was more horse than Hall could handle in the beginning.

“It was only my second year riding, so having a horse who never stopped running terrified me. I struggled for months trying to advance as a rider and attempting to train an energetic horse. I wanted to quit so many times. But I kept my head up and kept spending more time with her. As time passed, we started to connect and we became friends. I learned patience, which is essential when you’re working with an animal that you can’t talk to. She taught me the skills necessary to help her become a better horse and me a better rider and partner. Now I’m able to jump-ride horses at jackpots and rodeos. I am thankful for Lena and everything she has taught me and the accomplishments that would have not been possible without our close bond,” Hall said.

Being a trailblazer as a female teen on the rodeo circuit has had its ups and downs, but Hall wouldn’t trade it for anything.

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“If I were to be completely honest, it’s scary. The pressure that comes with being the ‘first’ of anything, sometimes makes me feel that I cannot fail, but then I remember that I’m human. It is okay to make mistakes. I also am very glad that I am able to be the role model that I didn’t have when I first started riding,” Hall said.

Hall finds herself on the road, competing all 12 months of the year, averaging three shows a month. She’s always looking for sponsors and appreciates her fans, family and friends who have supported her along the way. At the Bullride Mania in Virginia July 31, Hall and her horse Gracie finished in first place with a 13.64 run.

“Hard work and faith can get you anywhere you want to go in life,” Hall said.

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