story by Lillian Landreth “I love the competition and you meet so many more people through rodeo than other sports. Those are the top two […]
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Meet the Member: Taylor Bothwell
story by Lily Weinacht
“I grew up with rodeo, and you can’t get it out of your blood,” says SDHSRA competitor Taylor Bothwell. “You crave it!” The 18 year old from Pierre, S.D., was inducted into the sport before she’d grown into her first pair of cowboy boots. Her dad, Thad Bothwell, rode bulls in the PRCA and qualified for the WNFR in 1998, though he was unable to compete due to breaking his back in a plane crash. Taylor’s mom, Nikki Bothwell, ran barrels through high school and passed her love for speed down to Taylor, while Taylor’s brother, Tanner (22), rides bulls in the PBR and PRCA.
Taylor – who has qualified for the NHSFR the past three years and hopes to return a fourth time this summer – currently competes in breakaway roping, pole bending, barrel racing, goat tying, ribbon roping, and cutting, both in the SDHSRA and 4-H. “It depends on the day, but I usually stick to barrel racing as my favorite,” she says. “It’s way too much fun to pass up! I’ve had my barrel horse so long and we’ve grown and gotten better together.” In addition to coaching from her parents, Taylor often spends several weeks immediately following the end of the school year practicing with Gale Beebe and Mike Slater. “They’re like family since I’m out there so much,” says Taylor. “Gale made the NFR four times, and she and Mike help me try to succeed in everything I do. Brent and Jenny Belkham also help me with my roping and goat tying, and Hallie Hanssen and her family have always been there for me. I bought my barrel horse from them.”
Molly, Taylor’s barrel horse, has called the Bothwell ranch her home for the last six years, while Taylor ropes on Eight Ball and ties goats on Champion. She leases her cutting horse, Cee, from Jim and Barb Halligan. Taylor practices several times a week, but when it’s time for a change of pace, she takes her horses out to check cattle, and helps her step-granddad, Randy Warne, with his NFR bucking bulls whenever she has a chance. “We have a town house in Pierre, and our ranch where we keep the horses is about 25 miles away,” Taylor explains.
A senior at T.F. Briggs High School, she is excited to explore new opportunities in college, but admits she’ll miss high school. Taylor played basketball and ran track until she was a junior, and now focuses her energy on volleyball and rodeo. “I definitely want to college rodeo,” she says. “I also like psychology and anatomy, so I’d like to pursue one of those in college.”
As soon as the school bell rings, Taylor’s off to exercise horses or spend time outdoors, enjoying the occasional fishing trip or soccer game. She saw the ocean for the first time in February when her family went to Cancun, Mexico, for vacation. “I was pretty pumped to see the ocean – it was breathtaking! I did get homesick for my horses, though. I over packed for Mexico because I’m used to bringing everything for my horses when I’m rodeoing,” she says with a laugh.
With a fourth qualification to the NHSFR on her mind, Taylor is working to qualify in all of her events. She’s a five event qualifier for state finals, and has made it to the short-go in five events. She won SDHSRA Rookie of the Year in 2013, the all-around title in 2014, and finished third for the all-around in 2015. Her winning streak also carried into 4-H, where she won the senior girl all-around in 2015. “I want to work on filling my WPRA permit, but right now I’m focusing on making the short-go at state finals,” she says. “My ultimate goal is to make the short-go at Nationals!”