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 […]
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Meet the Member Briar King
story by Michele Toberer
“If I ever really get anything out of calf roping, I hope that it brings someone along their way to Christ. It’s an important thing in my life, but earthly things don’t last, so if I get anything out, I hope it’s to lead someone closer to God, says Briar King of Ash Flat, Arkansas. Briar was born and raised in Ash Flat and started riding bulls as a 14-year-old kid that was following in the footsteps of his older cousins. “I always looked up to my cousins and loved the cowboy lifestyle. My brothers and sister were into sports, but I wanted to be a cowboy.” Although Briar rode bulls successfully for several years, qualifying for the Arkansas Cowboys Association finals every year from 2011 until he stopped riding bulls in 2015, bull riding injuries the past couple years put an end to his roughstock passion. “I tore up tendons and my right tricep, which was on my riding arm; and had to repair my ACL, meniscus and muscles in my right knee.” After those two surgeries, and taking a year off from rodeo, Briar decided to try a new event to get back into the arena and chose tie-down roping.
Briar works with Shane Goodson at North Arkansas Electric, and accepted an invitation from Shane to flank and tie calves one day after work. “I went to tie calves that day and it just became an obsession, it was all I wanted to do. “Calf roping is so action-packed and fast-paced. My knee still bothers me some, but I’m hoping that I’m not going to be on a run more than 9 or 10 seconds, so when I can’t put the pain out of it for that long, I shouldn’t be doing it.” With several guys, such as Cavin Hall and Charles Hastings also stepping in to help Briar with his new event, he started entering rodeos last season, and made the season finals for the ACA as well as the Arkansas Rodeo Association; and was the 2018 ACA and ARA Rookie of the Year, and the 2018 ACA Reserve Champion Calf Roper, right behind Shane, who was the season champion.
Briar credits his horse, Deets, for the successful rodeo season. “Starting out, I was riding old or cheap horses I could afford, but couldn’t perform like I needed; but when I spent some money on a good horse, it all changed. Deets is a 15-year-old, sorrel gelding that not everyone saw talent in, but I had really prayed for him, and it seemed like overnight I found him; it was unbelievable how he just popped up out of nowhere.” Briar was excited for Deets to win the 2018 ACA Calf Horse of the Year title.
One thing Briar notes he misses about bull riding is how easy it was to travel, “We could just get in a car or van and take off; that luxury doesn’t exist when you have to pull a trailer and take care of a horse on the road. Before, I could just grab my wallet and gearbag and I could be gone for months if I wanted to. But, I wouldn’t trade calf roping for anything, and I especially love getting to do it with my family.”
Briar’s wife of almost a year, Becky Beth, is a great supporter of his love for rodeo. Her two younger brothers calf rope also, so rodeos have become a family affair as they often travel to rodeos and practice together. When Briar isn’t at work, he is usually found roping dummy calves, tying and flanking calves, or thinking about doing something involved with roping. But everything comes second to church. “We’re very involved with our church, First Landmark Missionary Baptist Church, and go to services three times each week. I think there is no way I could have done anything I have without the help of God. There is no reason I should have done as well as I have this year, except that I kept faith in God, and He provided for me. That’s what I love about the sport of rodeo, you see so many at the professional level that do what they do to glorify God, and give Him the credit He deserves, you don’t always see that in other sports.”