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Meet the Member Amanda Butler
story by Lily Weinacht
Amanda Butler and her older sister, Lauren, are the first generation of their family to rodeo. Their love of horses developed into riding lessons, and eventually rodeo, when family friends Bruce and Lori Pulham introduced them to the sport. Amanda, 17, followed after her sister and joined the RMPRA this winter, and she’s currently sitting 10th in the barrel racing standings. “I love them! I think they’re fun, and it’s nice, because you can choose if you want to run in a performance or in the slack, and you can work around your time schedule,” says Amanda.
She’s also leading the barrel racing in the UHSRA and working hard to finish her senior year with a third consecutive qualification to the NHSFR. Amanda was the 2018 state barrel racing champion and went on to win the 2018 NHSFR just a few weeks later. “Last year I ran by the first barrel, which is something I struggle with, and I thought there was no way we could do as good as the last year. Lauren came and helped me tune on my horse. I went into the short round and we wrapped that first barrel and it all fell in to place and we won. It felt like a dream come true!” Amanda also competes in the UHSRA in breakaway roping and cutting, and loves all her events equally. She hopes to start entering in the breakaway roping at RMPRA rodeos in the near future as well.
Amanda and her sister try to saddle up and ride together as often as their schedules allow, with plans to cover their outdoor arena so they can practice through the winter from home. Amanda’s drive for rodeo comes from the satisfaction of success. “Because the victory is so sweet. I love the adrenaline rush and it’s just a fun time. Even if I have a bad run, I love my horse, and you learn from your mistakes and keep on going,” she explains. “My sister and I got our horses from Shauna Smith, and Jill Atkinson trained them, and I definitely wouldn’t be where I am today without them. I’ve had a lot of people help me in the cutting, like the Zaharias family, and in breakaway I’ve had several people help me, like the Madsen family and Ronnie Bastian.
“My barrel horse is Tic, and he’s a goofball. I’ll be bending over to pick his feet and he’ll pull my phone out of my back pocket—I’ve gone through several screen protectors. My rope horse is Opie, named after Olin Pulham, who helped us find him, and my cutting horse is Z. She’s probably the sweetest mare I’ve ever ridden.” The Butler family went from no horses in the pasture to 10 between Amanda and Lauren. They also have an older brother, Andrew (24), and a younger sister, Josie (8), who come to watch them compete, and Amanda’s Dachsund, Dobby, never misses going to a rodeo.
Since graduating from Payson High School in May, Amanda is preparing for college and competing on the Utah Valley University rodeo team. “I’m going to barrel race and try to breakaway rope, and I’d like to go into art education—I want to teach high school art,” says Amanda. “I really like pencil sketching, and I’d like to get better at pottery.” She also loves going to Disneyland with her family and putting her toes in the sand at the beach, as well as camping, though most of her camping is at the rodeo grounds these days.
“I think it would be really cool to shoot to go to the NFR one day,” she finishes. “I’d like to make the College National Finals and do good in the RMPRA rodeos, and work my way up from there.”