Murray State rodeo team member Taylor Smith is having an impressive freshman year.
Currently she is ranked first in three categories in the Intercollegiate Rodeo Association: barrel racing, breakaway roping and all around cowgirl.
“My college rodeo season has started off great,” the Benton, Ky., native said. “I am hoping to keep it this way so I can represent Murray State at the College National Finals Rodeo.”
Not only is she having success at the collegiate level, Smith has also been successful in the International Pro Rodeo Association.
This is only her rookie season and she is already competing in the International Finals Rodeo. Smith is heading into the finals leading the world in barrel racing and is in second place in breakaway roping.
“My goal is to bring home two world-champion titles,” she said. “I would be the first female in the history of the International Professional Rodeo Association to be a two-event world-champion. I have an opportunity to bring home 14 belt buckles and two saddles.”
The freshman said her rodeo coach J.D. Vanhooser has been a big help to her. He tells her to keep her head up and keep moving forward.
Smith said she has been around horses her entire life.
“I have always had horses,” she said. “My aunt, Anita Washburn, barrel races and she got me started on it; I just took it a step further and started roping, too.”
Smith has one horse she uses to compete in both roping and barrel racing. To prepare for rodeos she rides him three to four times a week in order to keep him conditioned and in shape.
Smith said she does not practice roping or barrels too often because her horse is 14 and knows what to do.
“The rodeos never stop,” Smith said. “There is somewhere to go every weekend so I see it as just another day at work. I never really change anything.”
Smith will compete in the International Finals Rodeo Jan. 18-20 in Oklahoma City.
Story by Jaci Kohn, Sports editor