story by Hannah Crandall Now a rodeo judge from Tierra Amarilla, New Mexico, Shane Thurston has been going to rodeos since he was two-years-old. Shane’s […]
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Meet the Member Bethany Ray
story by Lindsay King
Blanco, New Mexico, native Bethany Ray has seen every aspect of the rodeo industry so far. Bethany was always at the arena long before the rodeo kicked off, behind the chutes unloading bulls with her dad, Richard Hodgson. “My dad took bulls over to a bull rider’s house in town and they bucked them out. It just took off from there,” said the mom of three boys who are slowly but surely continuing the family legacy. “I was probably in junior high when we first started Bad Moon Bucking Company, which later changed to Bucking H Rodeo, and it took awhile to get it really going.” Today, the company is a staple element in many NMRA events across the state. One of those rodeos happens ever Wednesday night throughout the summer months.
“We partner with True West Rodeo and do a weekly rodeo in Durango. We’ve been doing that for at least five years now.” As a barrel racer, Bethany tries to compete on those Wednesday nights but also holds a lot of responsibility with the family business. “I work for my dad both helping with the rodeo company and the family ranch.” In addition to that, Bethany also helps her brother, Kaleb Hodgson, out with his horse training business. “My brother has really helped me a lot with barrel racing. He’s kind of been a mentor to me.” Anytime Bethany can’t quit figure out what’s going wrong with her horse, Kaleb is right there to help. “I’m really lucky to have him around all the time.”
Both Bethany and Kaleb grew up in the rodeo industry, competing in junior rodeos and working their way up the ranks. “I’ve ridden horses all my life essentially, but got started in barrel racing in junior high school.” Bethany tried her hand at roping on and off, but its barrel racing that has stuck with her for life. “I’ve trained all of my own horses since I’ve gotten back into rodeo and it’s a lot of work but really rewarding once you get them going.” Building a relationship has proven to be a pivotal training method for Bethany. Her current mount, a 9-year-old mare named Katniss, is Bethany’s once-in-a-lifetime horse.
“I love her personality and people always say that we are a lot alike in that respect. She definitely keeps me on my toes still.” This bond hasn’t come without its fair share of challenges. “It has taken me longer than expected to get her going, but I am really happy with her and how she is coming along right now.” Bethany is looking forward to a whole string of youngsters coming up in the ranks, one of them being a 3-year-old out of Katniss that she is really excited to get started on.
Aside from competing at rodeos and barrel jackpots, Bethany is now the stock contractor representative for the NMRA. “I am basically the middleman between the board and stock contractors. Whenever the contractors have a concern, I take it to the board and vice versa.” This is Bethany’s first year in this role and she’s looking forward to being an avenue of communication to progressing rodeo through the NMRA. A member of the NMRA for roughly 15 years, Bethany and her two oldest sons – Levi Whitley, 20, and Luke Whitley, 18 – compete in the association today. Levi is a bull rider for the New Mexico State University while Luke is both a pickup man and bull fighter. Bethany’s husband, Matt, is a team roper but he is more accustomed to roping in jackpots. Their youngest – Kellan Ray, 10 – hasn’t quit found his niche in the toughest sport on dirt, but it’s only a matter of time before he catches the bug himself.