Dallas Williams Rides To Win
BY KAYLA LOKEINSKY
The sound of pounding hooves brings the crowd to its feet as they wait for the horse to bolt from the gates. The rider grips her horse with all her strength, steering it with her body, and guiding it without words. She leads it around the barrels, moving with startling agility and speed. Just when it looks like the rider might go down, she makes it around each barrel, getting faster and faster as she races against the clock. Rounding the final barrel, she leans into her horse, sending dirt flying up behind them as they sprint to the finish. As she pounds through the gates at the end of her run, in only 17 seconds, Cooper City High School sophomore Dallas Williams manages to outdo even the most experienced riders as she competes in the dangerous sport of rodeo.
When it comes to the rodeo circuit, Williams is nothing short of a shining star. Competing in rodeos all over the country, she lives and breathes the sport. However, rodeo is not something that Williams happened to stumble upon. She was born into it, and since the beginning has been striving to be a champion.
“My mom used to compete in rodeo and my grandpa still competes and he’s 68 years old,” Williams said. “I guess rodeo and I were just meant to be.”
Williams began her rodeo career when she was just four years old, competing in mud bust riding, which consists of kids riding sheep instead of horses. Williams has evolved her skills and now competes in four rodeo events: barrel racing, pole bending, break away, and goat calf. Barrel racing is her main event, which involves racing around a barrel obstacle course in a race against her opponents and the clock.
“I could just focus on one event, but rodeo wouldn’t be the same to me,” Williams said. “While barrel racing is my main competition, being in other rodeo events not only helps me ride better but it’s what makes rodeo so fun.”
Williams has dominated the rodeo circuit since her start in the high school rodeo division in 2009. She has competed in rodeos all over the United States, including Mississippi, Georgia and Tennessee. While competing she has won countless prizes, including ribbons, saddles, buckles and holds the title of “All Around Cowgirl.” She also competed in the World Rodeo in Tennessee and was the only participant to represent South Florida.
“When it comes to rodeo, and it’s time to focus, I focus,” Williams said. “Because in rodeo, you either win the title or you lose it. There is no in-between.”
However, Williams cannot take all the credit for her countless accolades. Her horses are the guiding forces that lead her to victory. In rodeo, it’s all about the relationship between the rider and their horse. They have to work as one, making sure that their movements coincide and that they come together as a team. In order to do this, they must work together every day in order to get closer. Williams has 15 horses on her family’s ranch in Southwest Ranches, and she makes sure that she spends time with each and every one of them.
“Everyday after school I come home and go straight to the stables,” Williams said. “My horses are my life.”
Williams has three main horses: Monte, Poco and Bud Light, although Monte is the horse who has led her to most of her victories. Williams also works with a riding coach, David Morre, in order to improve her skills on the horse. Moore’s specialty is working on the details of her riding, making sure that it’s perfect.
“Dallas had quite a bit of rodeo experience before me,” Morre said. “She is a very natural rider and has a strong feel for the horse. My job is to make sure that we get the details right so that she can pull off all her tricks.”
While Williams does have a strong feel for riding, this does not always ensure that each rodeo will go off without a hitch. Between the rough animals and fast pace of rodeo, there are dozens of ways a rider can get injured, making it one of the most dangerous activities in the world. Williams herself has experienced numerous injuries since her start in the rodeo. From broken bones to bruises, she has gotten more injuries than she can count, some more severe than others. In 2007 Williams was competing in a barrel racing competition when her horse flipped over, causing her to break her leg. In October 2011 she fell from her horse while she was practicing a new trick when her horse bucked, breaking 3 ribs. Despite these injuries, Williams continued to ride, refusing to let a couple of broken bones keep her from getting back on the horse.
“Rodeo is more dangerous than any sport,” Williams said. “If you make just one wrong move, you can mess up everything, but that doesn’t stop me from riding.”
These injuries are just one factor that contributes to the difficulty of rodeo. It takes time, patience, and sheer determination in order to succeed in this difficult sport. Williams puts 100 percent of herself into her riding, dedicating nearly all of her free time to training with her horses. Whether it’s a simple ride across the yard or a run through a barrel race, training for a rodeo is much harder than just sitting on a horse.
“I wish people could see just how hard rodeo is,” Williams said. “Everyone thinks that they can just get on a horse and do the things I do, but it’ so much more difficult than that.”
With all of this training and practice, it’s no wonder that rodeo is starting to take a toll on her. Rodeo is a frustrating sport; there is so much pressure that comes along with it. Having to push yourself and your horse faster with each run around the barrels, making sure that you’re moving with agility, and ensuring a victory by making every move perfectly is a lot to handle, especially for 15-year-old Williams.
“Everyone knows me when it comes to rodeo,” Williams said. “But right now I’m going through a stage where I know I can do better. I have people who come up to me and tell me that I’m amazing at riding, but I know I haven’t reached my full potential.”
While Williams does have the skill to compete in rodeos all the way up to a professional level, there are still rules that can prohibit her from doing so. Some of the events that Williams competes in are considered “male events”, which limits her in what she can do as her rodeo career continues. She will only be allowed to compete in barrel racing and pole bending professionally, but Williams is ready for the rules of rodeo to catch up with her advanced skills.
“It’s wrong that girls can’t compete in boy’s events,” Williams said. “How can someone tell you what you’re good at just because of your gender?”
Despite these obstacles, Williams still has the drive to push herself towards rodeo stardom. She will continue to compete in the high school rodeo division for the rest of her time at CCHS, racing in showcases in order to attract potential college scouts. She plans on barrel racing for a college rodeo team, which will hopefully lead her to a future in professional rodeo.
“Rodeo is just like football or any other sport,” Williams said. “Just like a football player tries out for a team and tries to increase their stats, I try and do the same for college rodeo.”
With her skills, drive, and passion, Williams possesses all the traits of a rodeo prodigy. From her talent for riding to her knack for communicating with her horse, her future in rodeo is looking bright. While she may be young, Williams pushes herself to be the best rider she can be, and that is the sign of a true champion.
“Rodeo means everything to me,” Williams said. “It’s my life, and I want to do it for as long as a can stay up on the horse.”
Short URL: http://thelariatonline.com/?p=3246