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Meet the Member: Rhiley Morgan-Montoya
story by Lily Weinacht
For Rhiley Morgan-Montoya, rodeo and relationships are synonymous. In the time that the 12 year old from Mancos, Colo., has been competing, she’s formed equally important bonds with both people and horses, drawn close by their mutual love for all things rodeo.
The first of her family to rodeo, Rhiley was introduced to the sport by her preschool teacher, and it took only one rodeo to make up her mind about it. “I love travelling and being with my horses. They’re more than just an animal you ride – you have to bond with them to be able to compete,” says Rhiley. “I think it’s cool that you’re a team of two and it depends on both of you to make a good run.” Rhiley’s connection with her horses won her the barrel racing at the Red Rider Rodeo in Pagosa Springs, Colo., in 2013 and 2014, as well as Fiesta Days in Durango, Colo., in 2013. The San Miguel rodeo in Norwood, Colo., remains her favorite, especially after Rhiley won the goat tying in 2014 and 2015, tying her fastest time of 10.4.
Entering her first season in the CJHSRA, Rhiley competes in barrel racing, pole bending, goat tying, and breakaway roping. “I love goat tying – I have a really good teacher, Ross Saez,” she explains. “My favorite part is tying the goat, because that’s the point where you either make it, or you don’t! I’m enjoying junior high rodeo since we get to travel further and meet new people.”
Several figures in the rodeo world spur Rhiley on in her competition. “Trevor Brazile has really inspired me because he’s not cocky, and he practices and works hard at what he does,” she says. “I also like Taylor Jacob, because she trains all her horses, and that says you don’t have to buy a horse to win – you can train your own! I’m also thankful for my sponsors, KDL Construction, Tres Rios Silver, Mesa Color, Easy Care Equine Products, and Rhonda and Rodney Cox.”
Rhiley is in the arena daily training several younger horses, including Champagne in barrels and poles, and Shiloh in breakaway roping. She plans to rodeo on both mares next season when she retires her current rodeo horses, Smoke and Ugg, both 22 years old. “I pole bend on Smoke – I’ve been running on him for four years and we have a really good bond. Ugg came from my friend Stormi Pittman, and he’s the best rope horse I’ve ever seen. He’s chill, but when it’s game time, it’s game time! I do barrels and goats on Dunnit. I trained him myself, and he loves his job.” Dogs, goats, roping calves, barn cats, and Angus cattle round out the animal count on the Morgan-Montoya farm. Rhiley and her sister, Quincy (ten), help their parents, Kerri and Jesse, with chores. “We live outside of Durango, and I love that it’s open – our closest neighbor is five miles away,” describes Rhiley. “We have places to ride and play – it’s free country!”
A sixth grader at Mancos Middle School, Rhiley particularly enjoys her agriculture class. “We’ve been learning about how agriculture impacts the way we live, and how the more houses that are built, the less land there is for farming.” Rhiley also likes her strength and conditioning class, and is looking forward to being coached by her mom in basketball next year.
As for goals, Rhiley hopes her travels will take her to the Best of the Best Timed Event Rodeo and the IFYR when she is older. In the near future, she’d like to qualify for the NJHFR. “I’d like to make it in all my events,” she says, “but if not all of them, at least breakaway roping and goat tying!”