Meet the Member BJ Billingsley
story by Michele Toberer Nineteen-year-old BJ Billingsley has been a member of the Arkansas Cowboys Association for four years, competing as a tie-down roper. BJ […]
story by Michele Toberer
Finding time for much else besides rodeo is quite a challenge for Salem, Arkansas cowgirl, Emily Pate. Not only does Emily attend Arkansas State University, Mountain Home, as a full-time freshman college student; she works as an intern at North Arkansas Electric, where her mom, Holly Pate also works. When Emily is not working or in class studying to be an elementary teacher, she will most definitely be found in the practice pen or competing at a rodeo, and she wouldn’t have it any other way. Emily will graduate in two years with her degree in primary education and although Emily likes kids and has always enjoyed school, one of her main draws to becoming a teacher is having the summers off to rodeo.
Emily was born and raised in Salem, Arkansas with her parents, Holly and Mark Pate, and sister Bethany Pate. Bethany, who is 6 years older than Emily, has a 2-year-old daughter, Hattie, whom Emily loves to spend time with. Mark works as a construction contractor and is credited for starting the roping fever in Emily. Mark used to ride bulls in his younger years, he calf roped for several years and now mainly team ropes. He was happy to share his roping knowledge with Emily, and they now spend many hours in their practice pen together, as well as on the road to rodeos. Mark and Emily are both Arkansas Cowboy Association members, and while Emily competes in breakaway roping, Mark competes as a header in the 50-and-over team roping event. Mark has been a 14-time ACA Finals qualifier, and Emily just competed at her 10th ACA season finals this past season. Emily also competes at IPRA rodeos throughout the season.
Emily is no stranger to juggling schedules, and while she attended Salem High School, she played left-field in softball, while also competing in the Arkansas High School Rodeo Association. She started out barrel racing, then tried goat tying, but once she began breakaway roping, she found what truly fit, and decided to stick with it. While she was competing in all three events, she was able to win the ACA Champion All-Around Cowgirl title in 2014.
Trigger is a 12-year-old palomino, Quarter Horse that Emily leases from Nathan Sanders. She’s been riding Trigger for about two years and besides helping her win the all-around title in 2014, she also won the 2016 Reserve Champion Breakaway roper title on him. “I’ve won a lot on him and have a lot of confidence in him. He’s just easy to get along with.” Emily bought another palomino to rope on last year, a little 14-hand, 20-year-old Quarter Horse she calls Woody. “Woody is really easy to get along with also, and being an older horse, he’s really experienced. I like to use him when I need to be quick, he’s little so I can see the calves good.”
Emily enjoys being a member of the ACA and appreciates the fact that many of the rodeos are close to home. She enjoys going to weekly Wednesday night rodeos that are part of a summer series and are only about 10-minutes away. “The ACA really treats their members well, and they put on good rodeos.” She would like to expand her rodeo horizons this next year and see what she can do some other places so she plans to attend more International Professional Rodeo Association rodeos, focused on trying to make their finals next year.
“I am just thankful for what I have and blessed for all of the opportunities God has given me. I am just so grateful that I have the opportunity to rodeo.”
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