courtesy of SWTJC Rodeo Alumni As Southwest Texas Junior College in Uvalde, Texas celebrates their 60th Anniversary as a National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association (NIRA) team, […]
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Meet the Member: Clara Wilson
story by Sharon Adams
“College rodeo was always fun. I enjoyed it all.” Clara Wilson even said she enjoyed the goat tying at a college finals where only one goat was used for the first go-round and a calf was used for the second go-round. The goat was huge and, to say the least, uncooperative, and there was no goat holder as there is now. That goat was hard to flank, a challenge to all the goat tyers and goat and cowgirls were worn out by the end of the performance. The next day, the calf was easier to flank and Clara was able to win that go-round.
Clara competed in three college finals rodeos but one was a little different: In the early sixties, colleges from some of the northern states broke away from the NIRA and formed the American College Rodeo Association. They held their finals in Dickinson, SD and one of their events for women was the pole bending. Clara borrowed a calf roper’s horse and saddle and as she turned the last pole she found herself heading for the dirt. On the way down she acquired some skinned places, a classic black eye, a bath in arena dirt and a lot of hopefully good natured ribbing.
Clara Wilson was born in Lusk, Wyoming and went to school in Edgemont, South Dakota.. Her granddad gave her a horse for an eighth grade graduation gift, the same horse she rode all through college.. Clara was the three time champion barrel racer in the Northwest Ranch Cowboy Association. At the University of Wyoming, she majored in physical education and biology, competed at the NIRA Finals in Klamath, Oregon in 1959, the ACRA Finals in Dickinson, South Dakota in 1960 and the NIRA Finals in Sacramento, California in 1961. It was at that last rodeo that she took fourth place in barrel racing.
In true cowgirl fashion, Clara tells the funny stories on herself but she has always been a serious and responsible participant in rodeo. She is a gold card member of the Women’s Professional Rodeo Association, as is her daughter, Lonnie Farella. Clara served as the Mountain States Director for the WPRA from 1990 until 1998. She is a Lifetime Member of the NIRA Alumni and has served on the Board of Directors for twenty years. From Clara, the Board has always received good commonsense, down to earth advice and ideas.
Clara is married to Fred Wilson, NIRA Champion Bareback Rider in 1961 and a member of the 1961 Championship Men’s Team from the University of Wyoming. They have a ranch at Newcastle, Wyoming, where they raise cattle and quarter horses. This is a working ranch where all the cow work is done on horseback. They breed, train and sell registered quarter horses for all around work, whether on a ranch or in the arena. The ranch has been in the family since 1908. Fred is a Gold Card member of the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association. Fred and Clara were recently honored by the American Quarter Horse Association for 50 years of breeding and raising fine horses. The Wilson ranch was selected as an AQHA Ranching Heritage Breeder. This is a family effort, their daughter, Lonnie does much of the training. Her husband Ty Farella ropes and grandson Billy has already won a saddle and buckles, following the family tradition.
As a ranch wife, Clara is one of the hardest working people you will ever meet, and still enjoying the rough spots as much as the smooth sailing!