story by Linsday Humphrey Making the decision to commit to rodeo as a high school sophomore has forever changed Rylan Wildeman’s life for the better. […]
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Meet the Member Katie Farney
story by Lindsay Humphrey
Short in stature but mighty in mind and spirit is Katie Farney and her main rodeo mount, Badger. The duo is living proof that you don’t need an expensive horse to do well, champions are cut from all sorts of cloth but the common denominators are dedication and work ethic. “I know some people don’t rodeo because they think it’s too late to start or their horse isn’t good enough. I just want them to know that you can start any time in life; you might not be the best when you start but if you have life left to live then you might as well do what you want,” said the wise-beyond her years 18-year-old.
Hailing from Arlington, Kansas, Katie gives the credit for her ability to even compete to her mom, Heather. “My mom works really hard to keep me going on the road. Some weekends she stays home from the rodeo and works extra hours so we have money for the next rodeo.” Katie’s best friend and header for the KHSRA, Prairie Robbins, and her parents, Brett and Karody, and their son, Rhett, have also played a significant role in the last four years of rodeo. “I go practice with Prairie and her family a lot. They’ve helped me get where I am with my horses, my skills and mental game. They’re like a second family to me. I don’t look at them any differently than I do any of my siblings.” She’s also leaned on the Augustine family in Wichita, the Robinsons in Auburn and the Vernon family in York. Each family has formed a building block in Katie’s rodeo foundation and, as a result, are part of her extended family.
Although great friends and family are the backbone of Katie’s rodeo career, she couldn’t get down the road without her sponsors. “Of course I want to thank my sponsors: Sunflower Trailer Sales keeps our trailer on the road and they also sponsor me; Jeff Smith Productions has helped me find rodeo horses and also sent me steers to practice on; and Russ Brown of R Bar B sponsors me and I actually ride in two of his custom-made saddles.” The team behind Katie is stout, and perhaps that’s why she’s made such large strides in just a few years as a rodeo competitor.
“When I started rodeo as a freshman in the KHSRA, I didn’t really have a clue what was going on in most of my events. I didn’t know how to swing a rope or tie a goat, but I did know how to run barrels and poles.” Katie’s lack of experience didn’t deter her from taking up six rodeo events: barrels, poles, goats, breakaway, heading and heeling. “The rodeo community is second to none, because if you ask one person for help there will be 30 willing to give you a hand. One instance that sticks out for me was at my first high school rodeo, just before my very first goat run. Someone saw me practicing on a goat and he realized that I was tying wrong and so he showed me how to do it right.”
Katie came by her can-do attitude honestly. In fact, she’s earned it. “I have gone through a lot of horses because we trade for them, train them and then sell them. Sometimes that’s made it hard to rodeo, but it has taught me to be a better rider and more adaptable to a wide variety of horses.” Always switching mounts has made consistency a hard-fought battle for Katie throughout her entire high school rodeo career. “I love that Kansas high school rodeo is tough. The state team usually does pretty well at nationals and that’s pushed me to get better so I can keep up with them.” No matter how much work Katie puts in on Badger or the outpouring of encouragement from rodeo family and sponsors, everything always comes back to the rock of the operation: Heather. “My mom was worked 2-3 jobs the last four years to help me achieve my rodeo dreams and keep me in horses. I just want everyone to know how much she’s helped me and pushed me to get better.”