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One More Chance

By: Samantha Smith

This year has proved to be my hardest year yet competing in college rodeo. Throughout my years of school, I have been fairly successful in rodeo, but this year has been different.

As a freshman, things seemed to come extremely easy for me. At my very first college rodeo I made the short round of competition which is something many people never get to experience. I then went on to win a college rodeo that year and compete in several other short rounds.

Fast-forward to sophomore year, I again made the short round at the first rodeo and started a bit of a streak, qualifying to the following two rodeos as well. When asked, I usually give my older sister, Taylor, a lot of credit for those good runs – thanks to her yelling in the stands and telling me what to do as if I could actually hear her.

Now, this year, junior year, is another story. Junior year has been a struggle to say the least. At the first rodeo, one I have consistently done good at, I didn’t just knock, but I knocked and flipped over the first barrel, something no barrel racer ever wants to do. This put me at an off start to the year, unsure of how to handle the loss at our hometown college rodeo. Next weekend, Alpine, TX, a rodeo I had won third at the year prior, horse and rider miscommunication causing another knocked barrel and another weekend with no short round. Vernon, TX college rodeo, another no-good run… are you seeing the pattern yet?

After the fall semester my parents finally convinced me it was time to get on a different horse as things obviously hadn’t been working with the one I was on at the time. To be truthful, things hadn’t been working for awhile, but I was too stubborn to admit it and wanted to prove that I could fix the problems all on my own. I was wrong.

December was a good month for me, I bought my new horse, Miracle Tash a.k.a. “Deana,” and got to fly home to Canada for Christmas. After New Years, I returned to the U.S., but only for three days before we picked up and went on a family vacation to Costa Rica that my mom had earned through her multi-level marketing company. Though I was happy to be on vacation, I couldn’t wait to get back and get a feel for my new horse.

Well, now it’s April and I’m still working on that whole “getting a feel” thing. People don’t understand that rodeo isn’t as easy as it may seem. In any other sport the game is always the same, you can switch fields, courts, turfs, you name it, but the idea stays the same. In rodeo, a horse switch after six years is like changing sports completely. This change is taking me time to adjust to, in fact, I had to send my other horse home to Canada to allow myself to completely focus on this one and getting our timing. Did I wish I had my old horse at the rodeo we won freshman year by four tenths? Of course I do, but the only way to get better is to make sacrifices and make changes in order to succeed.

The last college rodeo of the year is approaching fast and I am yet to make a short round. That one hurt to even type. To say I am disappointed would be an understatement, but I am not writing myself off quite yet. As I write this, I am sitting in my farrier’s barn doing homework while I get new shoes put on my horse’s feet. Though to some, this wouldn’t seem like a big deal, I’m seeing it as a fresh set of shoes for a fresh set of wins. Tartleton University hosts the last college rodeo of the year, and some say it’s even the best rodeo of the year, featuring smoke, fireworks, and added money which always draws in more entries. At this point, I’m not sure anyone sees me as tough competition, but what they don’t know is that I’m coming for them. This time, I’ve got a vengeance, I refuse to go a year without a short round, and I will do whatever it takes to make sure I’m in that top ten come Saturday afternoon.

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Snyder Short Round

By: Samantha Smith

Last weekend the ENMU Rodeo Team attended their eighth rodeo of the season and third rodeo of the spring semester at Western Texas College in Snyder, TX. After a less than great performance at the Ranger College Rodeo in Brownwood, TX two weekends ago, both the women’s and men’s teams bounced back strong, qualifying 12 team members to the short round of competition.

The women’s team had a strong performance, with eight girls qualifying for the short round in three events. ENMU Rodeo has a well-known reputation for excellent goat tying and this weekend was no exception. In the long round of competition, Tawny Barry carried away the competition tying a 6.9 second run to win the round. Unfortunately, a bobble in the short round cost her the championship but she was able to recover and finish fourth in the average. Colorado cowgirl Celie Vick ended up being the top ENMU goat tyer over the weekend after a tie for third and fourth place in the long round, and a tie for second and third in the short round resulting in a second place finish in the average. New Mexican’s Saige Bell, Lany Elkins, and Lindsey Adcock also had a strong showing in the long round but had some tough luck in the short round.

In the barrel racing, two ENMU cowgirls also managed to find their place in the coveted Saturday night short round. Bailey Harwell managed to put threes all the way across the board finishing third in the long round, third in the short round and you guessed it, third in the average. Joining Harwell in the cream of the crop was one of several Canadians on the team, Kennedy Smith. After a tough start to college rodeo with two injured horses, Smith was able to jockey her way to seventh place in the long round. A knocked over barrel in the short round cost her a place in the average.

Kortney McReynolds was the only roper to qualify for the short round in the breakaway but unfortunately wasn’t able to capture her calf the second time around.

As for the men’s team, six cowboys competed in the Saturday night short round.

Team ropers Luke Hisel and Brandon Muniz were the comeback kids Saturday night, winning the short round after qualifying in last hole after the long round. This first place performance secured a reserve championship in the average for the New Mexico cowboys.

Steer Wrestlers Ringo Robinson and Wesley Gudgell also competed Saturday night. Gudgell ended up sixth place in the average and Robinson was unable to capture his second steer.

In the roughstock events, saddle bronc rider Jacob Lewis won second place in the long round but bucked off in the short round. Bull rider Tucker Turner also qualified for the short round but finished with a no-score in the short round as well.

ENMU Rodeo will compete at Big Springs, TX this coming weekend. Follow southwestregionrodeo.com for full results.

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Presnell Proclaims Championship at ENMU Timed Event Challenge

By: Samantha Smith

Each year ENMU Rodeo hosts a timed event challenge where high school students, college students, and ENMU alumni are able to compete. Coach Albert Flinn is the mastermind behind this event, allowing college competitors to make competitive runs during a break between spring rodeos while also allowing high school students to showcase themselves. Alumni are also able to attend the event and see if they still have the talent to compete against some of the region’s most talented athletes.

This year’s timed event challenge, on Saturday, March 4th, consisted of many competitors – some old, some new, and some hopeful for a spot on the ENMU rodeo team in the future. Perhaps one of the highlights of the day was Taylor Presnell, 20, a student studying animal science at Clovis Community College (CCC), winning the barrel racing championship. Presnell competed in the long round of competition with a 17.303 second run earning herself a second place finish and a qualification into the short round later in the day. In the short round, she was able to add some speed and get another second place finish with a 17.200, earning her the average championship.

Presnell entered the challenge in hopes of seeing how well her horse, Dash, 15, would fair against some of the toughest competitors from the surrounding areas. Because she had competed in the arena prior to the challenge, Presnell knew her horse liked the set up and she had a chance at a championship. When asked about the experience, Presnell said, “It’s pretty awesome to compete with all the college girls even though I don’t college rodeo. It felt really good to win it and know all my hard work has paid off.” Being able to beat several of the Southwest Region’s best cowgirls as well as high school students and ENMU alumni is a tough task that Presnell handled like a champion.

According to Presnell, she has now owned Dash for eight years. When she first bought him, he had some issues and she had to break him down and re-train him in order to see if he would amount to anything in the rodeo arena. Presnell said the best part of winning the challenge was proving those who thought he wasn’t worth anything wrong. Knowing how much time and energy was put into the rehabilitation of this horse makes the win even sweeter in her mind.

When it was announced that Presnell won the barrel racing at the challenge, I was lucky enough to be in the building to see the reaction on her face. Though everyone is happy when they win, the smile across her face and the support she received from friends and family was amazing.

Though Presnell currently attends CCC, she plans to transfer to ENMU to complete a degree in animal science and pursue a career as an animal drug rep. Presnell also works part time at an equine rehabilitation center, Aquaterra Equine, between classes. Her boss, Kam Knight, has also played a vital role in Presnell’s success. After having her gallbladder removed just last week, Presnell wrapped her scar with several layers and persevered through a little bit of pain to compete. While she was healing, Knight and other employees at her equine rehab and conditioning facility helped prepare Dash for the weekend, putting him on the underwater equine treadmill and completing laser treatments on his joints to help him feel his best. For the past two months, Presnell hasn’t felt her best, and according to her, the crew at Aquaterra Equine played a large role in her success. Perhaps the best part of the interview with Presnell was her admiration for her boss, “Not only is Kam my boss, she’s my best friend. I look up to her in every way and I love her.” Presnell has high hopes of following Knight’s footsteps, even hoping to have the same career as an animal drug rep after graduation.

If Presnell attends ENMU as planned next fall, here’s hoping she puts on a black and green vest and hits the college rodeo trail. After her performance Saturday, it is apparent she has the talent and focus to succeed!