By: Samantha Smith
Last weekend, Tierra Gray led the ENMU Women’s rodeo team to a victory at the annual Vernon College Rodeo. Gray, a senior from Lovington, won the all-around cowgirl title after placing second in the barrel racing and first in the breakaway roping events.
Tierra and her older sister, TiAda, are known as, “The Gray Girls” throughout New Mexico and Texas for their competitive barrel racing and roping skills. Both girls decided to pursue their education at ENMU after high school, following the footsteps of their mother, Pat, and making a family of “Gray”hounds.
TiAda graduated from ENMU in 2014 after winning first in breakaway roping in the Southwest Region. This year, Tierra is on the right path to do just the same in more than one event!
You can read more about Tierra and her thoughts in an interview below.
How does it feel having your first college rodeo all-around title under your belt?
GRAY: It is actually kind of a breath of fresh air. I have had a rough time at the college rodeos for the past 3 years, so it is very rewarding to see my long hours in the practice pen every week finally paying off.
How do you balance your time between school and rodeo?
GRAY: Balancing time between school and rodeo is much easier said than done. Being an accounting major, the workload is not what I would consider “light” by any means. Time management is something that has to be a priority to any athlete, especially a student athlete. I typically work on homework first thing in the morning, go to class and practice during the day, and then work on more school when I get in at night.
I understand you compete on three horses every weekend. What are their names and what makes each one special?
GRAY: My breakaway roping horse, Booger, age 20, is as lazy as they come, but knows his job well. You’re luck to get Booger to pick his feet up while you’re warming him up because of his laziness. But when it comes time to walk into the box to rope, it’s like a switch flips and he is alert and ready for business.
My barrel racing horse, Ching, is 7 and every day with him is like having a little kid. You have to keep him close to another “buddy” horse or he will let out a little squeal and kick his back feet up, which is rather embarrassing to tell the truth.
Ed, the horse I team rope and goat tie off, is 21 and he is a grouch, constantly kicking the fence and wanting to be fed at all times. He gets super excited before the goat tying.
Of all the places you could have gone to, what make you choose ENMU?
GRAY: I chose ENMU not only because it was close to home, but also because of how close everyone is around here. At Eastern you are not just another number unlike many other universities.
After winning your first all-around title at Vernon College Rodeo, how do you plan on continuing your success throughout the remaining fall season?
GRAY: I plan on continuing my success throughout the remaining rodeos this fall by continuing practice and working hard to get better everyday, then letting the rest fall into place.
What is the relationship between teammates on the rodeo team? How do you help each other get better in such an individual sport?
GRAY: I would have to say that we are all pretty close on the rodeo team. We push each other to get better everyday without being afraid of stepping on each others’ toes.
With her work ethic and talent, there is not doubt that Gray will continue to succeed throughout the year. Not only does she have the competitive nature of a true athlete, but she also has a kind heart and always carries a smile on her face. Those lucky enough to call Gray a friend know that she is always willing to lend a hand and would go out of her way to help anyone. In fact, the only complaint anyone had about Gray was that she can be too kind and at sometimes needs to remember to put her foot down.
Here’s hoping that she will continue her winning streak and lead the ENMU rodeo team to more victories in the future! She’s a real “Gray”hound!