Before graduating in May, Eva Blanton didn’t run in the same social circles as many of her classmates at Highland Park High School. Instead, she felt more at home on the ranch.
Specifically, Blanton spent almost every day at her family’s ranch in Walnut Springs, a small town just south of Glen Rose, where she could enjoy time with her horses and indulge her passion for rodeo.
“I didn’t go to any school dances or anything, because I would have rodeos those nights,” Blanton said. “I like rodeo way better.”
Most weekdays, Blanton would leave after school from her family’s Highland Park home and make the 95-mile drive to the ranch, not returning home until late at night. Some evenings, when there were competitions, would find her coming home in the wee hours of the morning. Yet her grades didn’t suffer.
“I’d get home around 11 or 12,” Blanton said. “It’s a lot of driving.”
Blanton ranks among the top teenagers in Texas in both cutting and barrel racing. This summer, she was the Texas High School Rodeo Association state champion in cutting. In barrel racing, she finished second this summer at the International Youth Finals Rodeo in Shawnee, Okla., and qualified for the state finals even though her primary horse was injured.
“This summer was better for cutting and last summer was better for barrels,” said Eva, who plans to turn professional sometime after she enrolls at TCU this fall.
Blanton has been riding horses her whole life, and began competing seriously about six years ago. She inherited her affinity for equines from her father, Darren, who still competes occasionally in team roping alongside his daughter.
“I thought it was a good place to take the kids on the weekend and get them away from the city,” Darren Blanton said of the ranch. “Eva really took to it.”
Darren started showing cutting horses at a young age. In fact, after graduating from HPHS, he bought a horse with the first money he made in real estate.
Now the owner of a Dallas investment firm appropriately called Colt Ventures, Darren has a cutting-horse training facility near Weatherford. Among the family’s 125 horses is High Brow Cat, the top cutting-horse stud in history whose offspring have won more than $70 million in the show ring.
“I’d been around it my whole life, and I thought I would get sick of it,” Eva said. “But I just kind of picked it up and found a good horse that took care of me, and after that I just loved it.”