Meet the Member Austin Williams


story by Ruth Nicolaus

Austin Williams does double duty in the Idaho Cowboys Association.
Not only is the Eagle, Idaho man a contestant, but he’s a contract person, too.
The 25-year-old cowboy got his ICA card when he was in his teens.
Before his 2014 high school graduation, he had won the state high school bareback riding title twice and, his senior year, finished as the reserve National High School Rodeo Association champion.
He attended Odessa (Texas) College on a full ride rodeo scholarship, finishing third in the Southwest Region and twelfth at the College National Finals Rodeo.
Like most bullfighters, Austin added that role to his rodeo career because of someone else’s injury.
He was at a college rodeo when the bullfighter broke his femur and another bullfighter was needed. So Austin stepped into the arena, and that’s how his contract personnel career began.
At the ICA rodeos, he’ll ride his bareback horse then change into his bullfighting garb and go to work during the bull riding.
After graduating with a welding degree, Austin returned to Idaho. He competed at some pro rodeos, winning some and placing at some, and he continued his ICA career. He won the ICA bareback riding three consecutive years (2017-2019) and has been chosen as Bullfighter of the Year for five consecutive years (2017-2021).
When he came home from Texas, Austin went to work for a concrete company. Then he worked for Simplot, hauling potatoes.
Now he works for Matt Askew, helping him weld, construct pole barns, do diesel mechanics, and other jobs.
He says there aren’t a lot of similarities between bareback riding and fighting bulls, but for both a person needs to be in good shape. The adrenaline rush is also another similarity.
The horses are different from the bulls: “the horse really doesn’t want to mow you down and eat your lunch,” like the bulls do.
On the side, Austin does some leatherwork. He picked up the trade from a college friend and makes a variety of things: belts, briefcase covers, watch bands, wallets, headstalls and breast collars. He enjoys the artistic part of the work.
In 2018 after the Riggings rodeo, he was looking for pictures of his bareback riding when he noticed the woman behind the camera.
That woman, Shyanne Stillwell, is now his wife and they have a seven-month-old son named Stetson. Shyanne grew up in the world of cutting horses and is a rodeo photographer.
And son Stetson has made their world a brighter place. Plus, he’s an easy keeper. The day they brought him home from the hospital, he slept through the night and has ever since. “He doesn’t cry very often and he smiles all the time,” Austin said. “He’s a happy-go-lucky baby.”
He’s also a rodeo baby, having attended about sixty rodeos since he was born.
He appreciates the ICA and his rodeo friends. “All the roughies are really close-knit,” he said. “In the ICA with the roughies, nobody’s out to try to screw anybody over. We all want everybody to do good.”
He loves the camaraderie among the ICA rodeo people. “I have a lot of good buddies that I’ve rodeoed with throughout my career. We stuck around the ICA. A lot of people are loyal to the association, and that’s what makes it nice.”
He serves as the bareback riding director for the association and hopes to get more contestants in the roughstock events.
He has advice for up and coming contestants.
“Try bucking horses. It’s not as bad as it looks once you figure it out.”

© Rodeo Life Media Corporation | All Rights Reserved • Laramie, Wyoming • 307.761.9053

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