Texas Circuit cowgirl Taci Bettis took home the title of the 2018 RAM National Circuit Finals Rodeo Barrel Racing champion back in April. This was her first time ever to qualify for the RAM National Circuit Finals Rodeo in Kissimmee, and she has now left her mark on history by taking home the title of a national champion!
Taci grew up in Round Top, Texas. She saddled her first horse at the age of three, and the rest was history! She developed a very strong bond and connection to horses. Just for fun, after she began riding, her mother took her down to the Little Britches Rodeo and entered her to compete in the kids’ barrel racing competition. “It became my normal. I never looked back,” says Bettis.
Today, Taci hauls her horses from rodeo to rodeo with her friend and long-time mentor, Tammy Fisher. “I have been riding with Tammy for about 12 years. She is a six-time Wrangler National Finals Rodeo qualifier and has shown me the ropes. She has guided me and continues to help me. Now we both get to compete together at the WNFR!”
In 2017, Taci received her PRCA card and registered her horse as Bogie is a Smash. “Around the barn, we just call him Smash.“ Smash has taken Taci far on her rodeo journey. Taci and Smash most recently won the RAM NCFR and the American. Both are very prestigious titles. “I am forever thankful for everything Smash has done for me. He is the rock to our whole relationship. He has changed my husband and I’s life tremendously for the better. Smash is my best friend, and I lean on him for everything,” says Bettis.
If you ask Taci to describe Smash’s personality, she will give you a good laugh and say, “He is an extremely independent horse. He knows what his job is and he loves it. He wants to be great at his job. Sometimes he can be very quirky, so I have to pay attention. Every horse has a quirk; it’s just if you want to deal with it or not. In the winter, Smash can get fresh and has been known to buck me off. He doesn’t like winters or cold wind, but as he gets older, he is getting better about that.”
In order to be a barrel racer at the level Taci and Smash compete, you must both be great athletes. “It’s important to keep yourself and your horse in tip-top shape. I do CrossFit for my body and joints. You are asking everything of this animal, to go as fast as they can as quickly as they can. It can be hard on their joints just as it would be for us as humans. I condition Smash a lot to keep him in the best shape possible. I also spend a lot of time riding him to build that relationship and trust. We learn to communicate with one another through feeling; he feels my moves, and I learn his.”
The day after Taci arrived in Kissimmee at the RAM NCFR, her and her husband were able to have some fun and go to Disney World. “We had a great time and really enjoyed it!” We had to laugh and tell her she sort of did things backward. The most common question people get asked when they win something major is “Now that you’ve won, what are you going to do?” To that, most people say, “We’re going to Disney World!” Either way, Taci expressed how nice it was for her and her husband to have a week together of having fun and competing at the RAM NCFR. “It was a very cool experience!”
After she competes in Las Vegas at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo this December, her next stop will be competing at the Texas Circuit Finals Rodeo in hopes qualify to return to Kissimmee in March.
Courtesy of RNCFR.com