Association MemberJoin Rodeo News
Meet the Member Clay Garley
story by Lindsay King
What started out as a four-event season, turned into two and thankfully so. “This last year I just rode bulls and team roped in the second semester. I roped calves and rode saddle broncs in the first semester. I just wanted to hone-in my focus on two events and I didn’t think that I had a bright future in the saddle broncs,” said Clay Garley from Las Lunas, New Mexico. “I started out just riding sheep and roping calves when I was little. I got into the seventh grade and started entering the NMJHSRA events.” His first year in the association, Clay made nationals in chute dogging. He also competed in team roping, calf roping, and steer bareback riding. The next year Clay went to nationals in three events – steer bareback, calf roping and chute dogging. As a freshman Clay decided to exclusively ride bulls and just missed nationals by one point.
This 16-year-old is working on his horsemanship so he can get back to roping calves despite loving bull riding the most. “I have been working for a successful horse trainer that knows a lot about horses so I can get better at riding. I am only entering the bull riding for now, because it is what I am good at.” As Clay entered state finals this year he was sitting in fourth place of a fairly tight race. No more than five points separated the top competitors. “I got dehydrated the week before state finals and I was sick all weekend. I basically slept through state finals and almost didn’t ride but I couldn’t just sit there and watch.” Clay finished the bull riding in the heart-breaking sixth place. He ended up being the alternate for nationals.
This old hand made the trip to his second high school nationals rodeo this past July. “One of my friends got hurt, so I ended up getting to go after all.” It’s a good thing Clay got a second chance to finish out his year the right way. “I won second in the first round and placed seventh in the average. That’s easily my proudest moment in rodeo so far.” For fear of sounding like a “cocky bull rider,” Clay will only list a few of his many accomplishments. He’s won quite a few bull riding events in his state. He was also top ten at the AYBRA this past winter.
As the youngest of three boys – Dustin, 18, and Blaine, 20 – Clay is now the only one left in high school rodeo. Katrina and Kevin (Clay’s parents) have taken him everywhere he needed to, both for practice and competing. “Since I started entering the bull riding, I have gone with my buddies a lot, but my parents are always there to support me down the road. They are my number one fans from the stands and at home.”
As it turns out, Clay needed this support system two years ago when rodeo knocked him down. “I got knocked unconscious and had a bad concussion. I couldn’t ride bulls or horses for several months. I got kind of lazy because of it.” When Clay was finally able to get back on he realized he needed to put all his effort into riding and pull himself out of the slump. “I finally realized that I needed to keep working for it so I started working out and really riding like I knew I could.”
This Valencia High School junior once played school sports, but chose rodeo once he got to high school and realized it was more his speed. He does compete in the wildlife contest and ag mechanics through his FFA chapter. “Really I just go to school, get on bulls and work. My buddy Lucas has a few bulls and 100 cows at his house so we are always busy fixing fences and loading hay; that type of thing.” Clay specifically wants to thank his sponsors – LA Cattle and Travis Farms – for their support.