story by Michele Toberer Dale Davies has been blessed to live a life centered around horses and rodeo. Growing up in Fort Collins, Colorado as […]
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Meet the Member Rylea Platts
story by Lily Weinacht
Rylea Platts, a barrel racer from Scottsdale, Arizona, is entering her fourth season in the GCPRA. The 29-year-old qualified for the association’s finals for the first time last year, after her main barrel horse came back from an injury that ought to have ended his career. Frenchmans Fever – Frenchy – is known for adjusting his running style to any ground, and even took Rylea to the WPRA Derby Finals in 2010. “Our 2016 season, Frenchy, was just coming back from a torn suspensory ligament in his hind leg. It should have been a career ender for him, but I worked very closely with my vet, Jerry Longworth. I put Frenchy out for six months of stall rest and then a month of swimming in November of 2015,” says Rylea. “After that, Kelsey Lutjen was gracious enough to tell me about the rehab program she’s used on her horses. It was a month of slow work, but we built up day by day, and we won the very first GCPRA rodeo we entered in 2016.”
Frenchy is one of many horses the Platts family runs, from rodeos and barrel races to futurities. Rylea’s parents, Joey and Wendy Platts, both come from horse backgrounds, including rodeoing, ranching, and thoroughbred racing. They high school and college rodeoed, and Rylea followed suit. “When I was in high school, my main deal was pole bending, and I made it to the NHSFR twice in that. I’d still rather pole bend than barrel race, but after my good pole horse foundered my senior year, I shifted my focus to barrel racing and took off from there.
“I love that barrel racing isn’t judged – it’s you against the clock,” Rylea adds. “It’s such a fun world to be in, and you get to know so many good people. It is a competition, but as much as we compete against each other, everybody is willing to help each other out as much as they can.” Rylea’s mom is one of those people, along with horse trainers and barrel racers Joy Wargo and Ashley Schaffer. “My mom has always been there to help me in whatever aspect of barrel racing, and Joy Wargo is like an older sister. My mom taught her to rodeo, and Joy went on to train some phenomenal rodeo horses. If I have trouble, I can call her night or day. Ashley Schaffer has a lot of horsemanship skills, and she’s easy to talk with. I understand her training, and I have all the gratitude in the world for having those three people in my life.”
The Platts are starting colts this time of year, while their futurity horses are in training with Joy Wargo. Rylea’s other barrel horse, JW Guyd To Fame – Gledo – is showing great talent. “He blew my expectations out of the water for the 2016 season, and he’s run at a few GCPRA rodeos and been right there with the competition,” says Rylea, who juggles her horse training with her job as a flight attendant for Southwest Airlines. “November, December, and March are busy for the airlines, and March is busy for us with the horses, so I have to map out my horse calendar and my work calendar. I’m able to move both schedules around to fit each other.”
When she’s not traveling the skies, Rylea enjoys traveling with her boyfriend to national parks. They’ve been to Estes National Park and Zion National Park, with plans to visit the Grand Canyon and see more of Utah this year. “I like anything that’s outdoors, like concerts and going to the lake. I’m a thrill seeker, and I love to sky dive, but finding someone to go with me is the hard part!
“I’m doing GCPRA rodeos again this year, and somewhere down the line I’d love to make it to the Turquoise Circuit Finals,” she finishes. “I plan on also entering the futurity world again, but other than that, I’m happy with the trails I’m on.”