story by Riata Cummings Taylor Porter is the Utah High School Rodeo Association girls cutting champion, hailing from Morgan, Utah. She loves the beautiful countryside […]
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Meet the Member: Grayce Baxter
Story by Riata Cummings
Grayce Baxter is a rodeo athlete and senior at Lehi High School. She enjoys “all things medical” and is currently taking a certified nursing assistant class. After graduation she hopes to attend Colorado Mesa University to study to become either a veterinarian or physician’s assistant while competing on the rodeo team.
Grayce is the daughter of Josh and Kerri Baxter of Lehi, Utah. Her siblings include her older brothers, Brady and Kody, as well as Kody’s wife Emily, and a younger sister, Libby. The family enjoys spending time in the arena roping and riding together. Grayce’s brothers and father competed in rodeo, and she decided to join them when she was in sixth grade. Now she competes in breakaway roping, barrel racing, and pole bending through the Utah High School Rodeo Association. She especially loves the “adrenaline rush and challenge” of the barrel racing.
Grayce’s is competing on several horses, including DJ, a barrel racing gelding that she has only had for a short time. Last spring her trusty barrel horse, Dash, slipped around a barrel at the first rodeo, shifting his pelvis and taking him out of commission. Although he has been in recovery and doing rehabilitation exercises since he was hurt, Dash is still unable to compete. Now, Grayce is working hard to build a trusting relationship with DJ. She also competes with her other horses, Ziggy, the pole horse with an attitude, and One-Eye, the breakaway gelding and vision-impaired, “teddy bear that everyone loves.”
Her experience with Dash has helped Grayce learn that “you should never take anything for granted. You never know when it will be your last run or last rodeo with a horse, so you have to appreciate it.” It has also pushed her to be a better rider and competitor. “He is my favorite horse and has taught me so much. I owe it to him to keep going and learning to be better.”
Last year, Grayce qualified for the state finals in breakaway roping and barrel racing. This year she finished in the top 10 competitors in the pole bending at the Panguitch Invitational Rodeo. She has set a goal to qualify for the National High School Finals Rodeo in the barrel racing and to finish in the top seven breakaway ropers in the state. She is working toward that goal by riding nearly every day, roping a few times a week and exercising her barrel and pole horses in and out of the arena.
Grayce lives by the saying, “Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard.” When she first started competing in the breakaway roping, she had “no talent for it” and found it frustratingly difficult. But her hard work in the practice pen and dedication to the event has helped her find some success in the event. “If you don’t work hard for something you won’t get anywhere: you won’t achieve the goals you make. If you put in the work, though, it will pay off.”
Competing in rodeo has taught Grayce that “when you fall you have to get back up and get back on again. Whether you are in or out of the arena, you have to just keep going after you face an obstacle. It will be worth it, but you have to keep going.”
One of Grayce’s heroes is her sister-in-law, Emily. “She has taught me a lot about rodeo and life. She is a great example of getting back up when she faces challenges. She always has my back, and she is always looking for the good in people. One day I want to be able to train and ride horses as well as she does, and I want to be able to see the good in everyone like her.”
Grayce would like to thank her parents, brothers, sister-in-law, and sister for helping her down the rodeo road and cheering her on at every turn. She would also like to thank Sam Peterson, Dash’s former owner, for teaching her and helping her through Dash’s injury. Grayce is grateful for the opportunity she has to compete in the sport of rodeo and for the people who have made it possible.