Story by Ruth Nicolaus The Mid States East Rodeo Association member lived in Texas for five years before moving back to her parents’ farm in […]
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Meet the Member Matt Walsworth
story by Michele Toberer
Matt Walsworth of Valparaiso, Indiana has a lifetime of riding horses behind him, but it wasn’t until he was in high school that riding bucking horses became a passion. His mom, Teresa Walsworth, barrel raced, and Matt also competed in barrel racing before they started training their own horses. “We were learning about how to start and train our own horses, so I got on some bucky colts and thought it was a lot of fun. I thought I might as well start riding broncs and if anything, I’ll learn how to ride a buck.” Matt went to practice pens in Jacksonville, Illinois with Ray Cox, and at 17, he met Marty Barnes at a county fair and went to his ranch in Iowa where he rode several broncs with his guidance. “I loved it, and I’ve stuck with saddlebronc riding ever since.”
Matt competed in the Illinois High School Rodeo Association for three years before graduating through his homeschool program in 2006. “We lived in the northwest corner of Indiana, so the Illinois high school rodeos were closer for us. I qualified for national finals in 2005 and 2006.” Matt was the 2005 IHSRA Reserve Champion Saddlebronc Rider and the 2006 IHSRA Champion Saddlebronc Rider. Matt’s younger sister, Jenifer, also competed in IHSRA as a barrel racer. Matt spent his freshman year of college at Trinity Valley Community College in Athens, Texas on a rodeo scholarship before stepping into the professional ranks and riding on a PRCA permit for a couple years. “After competing in the PRCA I went into the permit program at Three Hills Rodeo, then took a year off before starting to compete at rodeos again.
Matt’s been a member of the Mid-States Rodeo Association for three years, and appreciates being able to compete at quality rodeos in close proximity to home so that he can also focus on building his business, Matt Walsworth Performance Horses, where he starts colts, and trains roping, barrel, and ranch horses for clients. “I’ve done really well in the Mid-States rodeos. They have good stock contractors in the association, and they haul lots of good broncs to the rodeos.” Matt didn’t start his run for a season title until mid-June last season but despite a late start, he finished strong as the 2018 MSRA Champion Saddlebronc Rider. “I drew really good all summer and when I decided I wanted to try to win it, the ball started rolling and I just tried to roll with it.” Matt traveled to Swanton, Ohio for the MSRA season finals and drew nice horses all three rounds. “I missed the mark-out on the second round so I was disappointed because I hoped to win the average. But Trace Houston won it and he’s a real handy cowboy so losing to him is nothing to be ashamed of.” Matt wasn’t certain what his placing was going into the finals, “I didn’t want to put pressure on myself going in, so I didn’t look at the standings. I had won quite a bit, so I figured I was looking pretty good, but I just went into finals riding one horse at a time, jump for jump, just like it was practice. I was really stoked to win the title at the end, it was a really good feeling of accomplishment because there were lots of good bronc riders in MSRA last year.”
To stay at the top of his game, Matt goes to the gym three times each week, “I try to do a lot of core workouts and deadlifts, and I run two miles to warm up and for cardio. I think working out helps with my balance, flexibility, and reaction time when I’m riding.” Matt also works helping a friend that runs about 1000 yearling cattle, and enjoys ranch roping and doing ranch work.
One of Matt’s goals for the future is to win a title on one of the horses he’s training. He’s very grateful to his dad, Rick Walsworth and sister for always supporting him and helping him at his ranch. Although Matt’s mom passed away in 2014, she remains a source of inspiration for him in his rodeo career.