Success in the saddle: Williams excels in first year of high school rodeo

By Richard Greene | Published Saturday, June 23, 2018
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Emily Williams

Emily Williams. Messenger photo by Richard Greene

When Emily Williams rode in her first rodeo on a 16-year-old horse, she had to borrow a hat to compete.

But Williams didn’t take long to experience success, bringing home second place in her initial ride.

Six years later, the Boyd resident continues to find success in the arena. With a strong performance at the North Texas High School Rodeo Association Finals in May, she claimed the Rookie Cowgirl saddle.

Williams said the success in her first year competing on the high school level was not expected.

“Throughout all 26 rodeos, I just let it go where it was going to go,” she said.

Williams earned 500 points during the finals to claim the rookie saddle. Along with the rookie title, she won the pole bending at the finals with the top time. She was sixth in the average in barrels and was the runner-up in steer undecorating.

In pole bending, she ran on the first day and had to wait throughout the competition to see if her time would hold up.

“I knew there was a lot of great competition left,” Williams said. “I knew he ran his heart out.”

No one could top her time. Actually Coco turned in two of the three rides of the weekend in the 20s.

“That was a really great accomplishment for her,” said her mother Susan McKee-Williams. “She’s running against these professionally trained and high-dollar horses.”

As Williams pointed out, her horse, Coco, was bred from a mother they paid $45.

She actually broke and trained Coco, who was born on the family’s property six years ago. It’s her relationship with Coco that makes pole bending her favorite of the three disciplines.

“My horse makes it really fun. He’s guaranteed to make the same ride every time,” Williams said.

She rode a different horse in all three events. She said her steer horse was in retirement and she pulled it out for the event.

“He was the calmest of the horses,” Williams explained.

The mare she rode for barrels was coming off knee surgery in the spring of last year.

“She stepped up for me,” Williams said.

After her first competition, it didn’t take long for Williams to get hooked on the sport and the adrenaline of rushing into the arena on horseback.

“It’s pretty fun,” she said.

Along with competing, she trains horses and works out horses for other people. She enjoys the challenge of training horses, but it doesn’t top the thrill of competing.

“I enjoy training, but it’s nothing compared to being in the arena,” she said.

Williams will be gearing up in the coming weeks to head to the National Barrel Horse Association Youth World Championships in Perry, Ga., July 21-28.

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