The summer has roped in another successful rodeo season for Whangarei YG Kaiako Morgana Nathan.
So far the 22-year-old has clocked up wins in Barrel Racing and Team Roping to currently sit in fourth place for a National Rookie Title on the circuit.
The season, which started at Labour Weekend, is due to finish in March.
"Winning as much as you can in a season is how you win a title," explains Morgana, who is currently sitting behind "three fellas from the South Island".
"I would like to win a New Zealand title. It's hard work but I like the competition. You've got to stay focused and try not to be discouraged by one little mistake. It is all a mind game."
Morgana got her first taste for the sport eight years ago, through the rodeo-renowned Neho whanau.
The Far North professional riders introduced her to a bit of training - including bull riding for her brother Patariki - before her parents took over the reins by helping the pair on their family farm in Pouto.
"My parents are hard-out supporters. I started riding when I was seven and I've had heaps of horses since then. I've got two main horses right now; Blue and Spartan. Blue's my competition horse and Spartan's in training, although he was bred for dressage," says Morgana.
"Hopefully one day I'll get to travel to Canada to gain more of a knowledge base around the training of high performance horses, but then I want to return to the wānanga."
In 2014 Morgana accumulated enough wins, equating to cash prizes of $3000, to qualify as a rodeo contest open rider. Her competition has taken her across the North Island from Raetihi to Kaitaia, competing consistently against as many as 40 women.
"Every day you are up against the best in New Zealand and it makes you feel very humbled to be competing against your riding idols. Also, seeing everyone every day after not seeing them all winter is really cool. It’s like a major catch up session. Nationally we like to stay in touch with each other," Morgana says.
"Travel can be hard for yourself and your horse though. Your horse relies on you to take care of them to ensure they can perform to the best of their ability."
The Ngāti Whatua, Ngāpuhi cowgirl also says she can take plenty of the skills she's learned on the rodeo circuit and apply them to her classroom of fitness-training rangatahi.
"Like my horses, I've got to be patient with my tauira. And organised," she says.
Because of her full work schedule, riding time is restricted to the weekends.
And despite the two-hour drive from Whangarei to Pouto to train with her horse, she has no plans on retiring any time soon.
"I like the speed, it's an adrenaline rush and I like the social aspect too. We're all a big family, when it comes to that time."