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!