On The Trail with Amy Wilson

by Michele Toberer

The western lifestyle is not only her business, but the true roots under her feet, and the passion that fills her heart. Amy Wilson was born and raised in rural Colby, Kansas as the second-oldest of 6 children, with 4 sisters, 1 brother, and her parents, Lonnie and Lori Wilson. Family, horses, and cattle, were all instrumental parts of her childhood as she worked alongside her dad and uncles in their family livestock sale yards. Fond memories of the days riding sale barn horses, as she completed necessary tasks; and working on the family ranch, where they had a start-to-finish cattle operation raising Angus-crosses, built a strong work ethic in Amy, and an intense love for what it meant to be a cowgirl. Her love for cattle was apparent, as any money she made as a child, was generally spent purchasing cattle for her own herd. Amy’s dreams for her future bring her back to her roots, as she hopes to have her own cattle ranch one day, to share with another generation.

Amy jokes that she has a serious horse addiction, and loves talking about horses she owns, as well as unforgettable horses of her past. Flo-yo was a special horse from Amy’s childhood, that she rode in 4-H, used to move cattle, and taught her so much about riding and communicating with horses. When Amy was a junior in high school, she bought her first rodeo horse at a performance horse sale. Missile was an extraordinary 17-year-old gelding that propelled Amy into the rodeo world, as she competed on him in barrel racing and pole bending in the Kansas High School Rodeo Association. “He was such a great horse, they called him Missile because that’s what it felt like you were on, when he took off!” Missile continued to take care of Amy as she left high school and went on to Colby Community College on a rodeo scholarship. Grateful for the years and experience he gave her, Amy gifted Missile back to his previous owner to enjoy his well-deserved retirement. One of Amy’s mentors, Kelly Conrado, found her a phenomenal mare, Miss Piggy, that went all over the country with her, from college in New Mexico, to living in Colorado and Oklahoma for short times, to her move in Tennessee, and she was always competitive.

 

Amy at Dodge City Roundup 2017 - fotocowboy
Amy With Randy Bernard at The American - Courtesy of Amy
Miss Piggy in college in New Mexico - Courtesy of Amy

Amy had a background in princess pageants, as she had started competing in them from the time she was 11-years-old, and she combined that experience with her love of all things western, to become Miss Rodeo Kansas in 2007. The next year she set her sights even higher, and took over the most coveted crown of all, as she became Miss Rodeo America, 2008. Her reign as Miss Rodeo America presented Amy with many amazing opportunities, placing remarkable people and incredible experiences in her path. In 2011, Amy finished her degree at New Mexico Highlands University in Las Vegas, New Mexico, earning a bachelor’s degree in Media Arts; specializing in digital and graphic design, film and photography. While Amy was Miss Rodeo Kansas, she had many occasions to work with a Pam Minick, who became a special friend and mentor, and that relationship became instrumental in her path to RFD-TV, as Pam encouraged her to contact Rural Media Group’s CEO, Randy Bernard. After meeting with him, Amy was given a chance to show her abilities, covering the Miss Rodeo America contest at the NFR, for RFD-TV in 2012. Amy headed east in 2013, relocating for her new position, and has now worked for RFD-TV, based out of Nashville, Tennessee, for the past 5 years. Amy currently hosts RFD’s Western Sports Roundup, as well as Rural Radio on Sirius XM, Cowboy Minute on the Cowboy Channel, and the Road to the American. Amy travels to many major western and rodeo events across the country to interview rodeo athletes and feature important western icons. What she loves most about the job isn’t the spotlight that is on her during her hosting engagements; but is about being able to put that spotlight on others. “I’m passionate about western sports and the western way of life, and I am so grateful to have the opportunity to meet and share stories about people that possibly wouldn’t be shared otherwise.”

Eager to continue her rodeo endeavors while in Nashville, Amy was excited to find many options in the east for competing, and has competed in Southeastern Pro Rodeo Association rodeos, as well as other amateur and pro rodeos, and jackpots across the southeast. She competes in breakaway roping and barrel racing, and is blessed to have some special horses to enter on. It was love at first sight, when she first laid eyes on KN No Moe Siss, affectionately called Flapper, at a barrel race a few years ago; and although she didn’t purchase him then, he was a horse that didn’t leave her mind. Destined to be hers, she was able to track down the owners of the 9-year-old, sorrel gelding and purchase him in December, 2016. Since riding him, he has been everything her heart knew he would be, and she has gained so many experiences, to include winning 4th place in Garden City, Kansas, and winning 1st place at an American barrel racing qualifier this past summer. It was a similar gut-instinct that led her to purchasing a 5-year-old roan mare named Bailey, after seeing her Facebook sales ad, and they recently had the 6th fastest time out of 1200 runs at the No Bull barrel race in Florida this past January. Brandi, is Amy’s 14-year-old breakaway horse that she has competed on since college, and she is so appreciative that she can pull her out at any time, and the mare gives her a great run, whether there’s been much time for practice or not. Amy credits Total Equine Feed for keeping her special horses, at their best.

 

Amy on set at RFD-TV studio with Cort Scheer - Courtesy of Amy
Riding in the county fair parade on Flo-yo with her dad. - Courtesy of Amy

Not only did Amy find competition in the East, but this journey she has been on has also connected her with great people. Pro rodeo athletes that she’s interviewed or spent time with that have made lasting impressions on her, as she has gleaned from their attitudes or experiences, have left her with quotes that drive her forward in life. She writes some of the statements down in a journal to reflect on later, “There are so many that have influenced me and my mindset, it’s hard to mention them all. Trevor Brazille, the King of the Cowboys, he is drenched in winning, everything he says is important. Casey Tibbs, saying ‘Never leave home for Second,’ that works to remind me that once you’ve worked as hard as you have and invested all that you have, when you go to a rodeo your whole focus should be on winning.” Amy also has respect for cowgirls like Jackie Crawford, who has such a great mentality for making rodeo, and winning at them, fun. Sherri Cervi, who has the ability to stay so level, has helped Amy realize how important it is through the highs and lows of life or rodeo, to stay emotionally balanced. In addition to pros, there have been some great traveling partners Amy has been blessed to find, like Misty Orr, that traveled with her, always cheering her on and giving her advice on her riding; and Callie Correll has been a great friend, roping motivator, and become such a big part of the journey Amy has been on. The pair have traveled many roads together to rodeos and jackpots, and both qualified for the SPRA 2017 finals in February, where Amy and Flapper placed 2nd in barrel racing in both rounds and 2nd in the average, missing 1st place by only .002 of a second; and Callie won the average in breakaway roping. Amy was grateful to go and enjoy the finals with Callie as their journey took them separate directions when they were over. After the finals, Amy moved to Texas, and Callie headed further west to start her future with her fiancé.

The East has been good to Amy, and she treasures her time there, but Amy is excited about her new ventures in Texas, where she will be pursuing new opportunities with RFD-TV. RFD will be opening a new recording studio in Texas, and being in the heart of it all puts her in close proximity to cover many more live events for RFD; plus…being closer to family in Kansas is a huge bonus. Amy is already making plans for pro rodeos to be a big part of her future, as she plans to take a more substantial step into the big leagues this year, and she’s looking forward to balancing work and rodeo as she travels down the road. She believes that God has put significant people and animals in her life so far, at the right times and the right places. Amy lives with the faith that despite the harsh realities life may bring, she just needs to stay grounded in her faith and constantly follow the paths, and pursue the passions that God has given her.

 

Amy has worked for RFD-TV for five years, currently hosting RFD’s Western Sports Roundup – Courtesy of RFD-TV

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