story by Kailey Pickering After pursuing a passion for English jumping for four years, Grace Barnett turned back to her love of rodeo when her […]
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Meet the Member Savannah Wilson
story by Lindsay Humphrey
“Not a lot of people know that I have a step-dad,” said 17-year-old Savannah Wilson from Midland, Texas. “He came into my life when I was 2 years old and raised me up. I definitely wouldn’t be rodeoing if it wasn’t for him.” At first, Savannah wasn’t interested in rodeo. Basketball at school was more her speed at the time. “I got my first horse when I was 10 and he was the first one that I could ride all on my own. We started doing playdays to see how it went and it took off from there.” When Savannah was 13, she joined the AJRA as her first “real” association.
“I like that the AJRAs are really based around the kids. Their rodeos make sure we have fun while still being competitive. At the AJRA finals they had games and tournaments for the kids to do and then there was a swim night; they really focus on the kids.” It’s not surprising that the AJRA is Savannah’s favorite association to compete in. That’s not to say she hasn’t enjoyed her time in the No Limits Junior Rodeo Association and Region 2 of the Texas High School Rodeo Association.
Of her three older siblings, Savannah is the only one who got involved in rodeo. “Horses have always been my thing; it was my escape. I’ve learned a lot about sportsmanship and dealing with tough situations. And it’s taught me about responsibility and discipline with things you want to accomplish in life.” While she’s had to work at barrels and poles also, its goat tying that’s been the most difficult for Savannah to get the hang of. “It hasn’t always been an event I enjoyed but in the past year I’ve gotten a little more consistent. I really have to think through every step of my run before I go. It’s just not quite as automatic as the barrels and poles.”
This past July Savannah proved that hard work does pay off in the long run at the 70th AJRA NFR. “A lot of the buckles that I’ve won, especially at the AJRAs this year, I didn’t expect them. At AJRAs you’re competing against some of the best of the best and everyone is very competitive. When you win something there, it’s a true victory because everyone is really good and we’re all competing for that top spot.” Savannah walked away from the finals as the year end goat tying champion after winning the average in the goats for the finals. That also helped her take home the reserve champion all-around title. “I had no idea it was going to happen. I was just consistent all week. It was a surprise and it’s the prettiest buckle I’ve ever gotten.”
Prior to the finals, Savannah’s favorite buckle came from a barrel race, and it was very first one. “It had a little NFR back number emblem on it. They used an NFR size pattern at the race and it was the coolest buckle I had ever gotten up until the finals this summer.” No matter what buckles or awards Savannah wins, that’s not what she wants to be known for at the end of the day. “I want people to remember me for always being nice and humble. It’s kind of the worst feeling in the world when someone isn’t nice to you simply because they’re better than you and they happened to beat you that day.” Savannah recognizes the unique opportunity she’s been blessed with in her ability to rodeo at a high level. “Not everyone can afford animals that will take them to the top or they don’t have the opportunity to travel like other people can and that doesn’t allow them to move up in the standings. We’re blessed that we can and I don’t want to take it for granted.”