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Meet the Member Taitum Thomas
story by Lindsay King
Being a four-event rodeo athlete is no small feat, but Taitum Thomas of Coalgate, Oklahoma, takes it all in stride. This homeschooled senior placed in three rounds of the goat tying at state finals, which put her in second in the average and third overall. “I had some trouble with barrels all year. I hit a few barrels for the win at a couple of rodeos.” Long-standing consistency is the name of the game in the OHSRA. “I started out in the breakaway last fall, but I decided I wanted to concentrate on my other events for most of the year.” In both barrels and poles, Taitum finished seventh. But it’s goat tying that took center stage this year for the 17 year old.
“This was my first trip to Nationals, so I didn’t know what to expect. I didn’t go into it thinking I could I win it; I just wanted do well and have a good time with my family.” Taitum says it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that she just wanted to soak up. As it turns out, there was a national title waiting for her at the end of it all. “After the first two rounds I was sitting sixth in the average and the goat I drew for my last round was decent. That was in my favor a bit.” Times were tight between the top six goat tiers. Having a good goat helped Taitum relax going into the short round.
“I knew I had a shot at the top five, but I didn’t want to get too excited. I was trying to be really fast of course, but I fumbled a bit and ended up with a 7.5-second run.” After her final run, Taitum thought maybe she lucked into third place and so she headed to the stalls. “I thought maybe I should go back up there and just see where I landed. Rowdy Jones told me I won it and I didn’t believe him at first. I had to make some calls and get verification. It was a lot of fun all around though.”
It’s tough to take your first Nationals by storm, but Taitum believes the high-level of competition in the OHSRA prepared her for it. “Oklahoma rodeo is tough. It makes you tougher and opened my eyes to how hard I needed to work to really perform and be consistent all year long.” Growing up the daughter of horse trainers – Mark and Robyn Thomas – Taitum has learned the value of a hard day’s work. “My uncle is in the race horse hall of fame as a trainer and my family on the other side own Ward Rodeo Company.”
Taitum got her start in rodeo on the barrel pattern and it’s easily the event she loves the most. “When I started junior rodeo, my parents wanted me to do the all-around so I added the other three events. But barrels got me started and it has just stuck with me.” When Taitum was eleven, a Lynn Smith goat tying clinic gave her the fundamental skills she relied on this July at Nationals. If it wasn’t for all the sponsors and supporters of Oklahoma rodeo, the national team would not have gotten to focus on their events and do so well. “If it wasn’t for them this wouldn’t be possible at all. I want to thank everyone for their support and congratulations after Nationals. I also want to thank my parents for all of their support.”
Naturally, making Nationals in barrel racing is Taitum’s ultimate goal for this upcoming season. She wouldn’t mind a shot at defending her goat tying title next summer though. “I train my horses with my parents, so I would like to hit some of the bigger barrel races this year.” Taitum’s life goal is to become a successful barrel horse trainer. “I am sure I will go on to college rodeo, but I have not really decided on all that just yet.”