By Rich Winter
Entering the final run at the National Collegiate goat tying championships in Casper Wyoming, Eastern New Mexico senior, and current Carter resident Tawny Barry stood in fifth place.
Having witnessed the sixth place finisher put down a 6.6, Barry unleashed a 6.4 to move into first with four competitors remaining.
One by one the competitors in front of her faltered. One had goat problems, one ran a 7.1.
“With one girl left I thought to myself, this can’t be happening, the worst I can get is second,” Barry said.
Unable to watch the final run, Barry didn’t see the event leader get off her horse and trip and didn’t know she had won until she saw a teammate jumping up and down and screaming at her.
Years of work paid off for a Carter cowgirl who always dreamed she’d have the big stage to show her wares.
“Its a great feeling! I guess, it’s something I’ve always wanted in life and one of my bigger goals,” Barry said. “It feels great to have your biggest goal accomplished and it does show that all the time, effort and hours of hard work can pay off.”
Each event winner is given an opportunity for a victory lap around the rodeo arena, and as Barry took her moment, she pointed to her parents, Wade and Cleo Barry, who were in the stands cheering on their daughter.
“When that time came around I made sure to point at them and make sure they knew they have been a huge part of my success,” Barry said. “I don’t know who had a bigger smile on their face, I think they both wanted to climb into the arena.”
While her senior year at Eastern New Mexico resulted in a Bachelors in Business Administration, with two minors and a collegiate national championship, Barry’s journey actually started 20 years ago when grandparents Bill and Kay Abbott purchased Barry’s goat tying horse at an auction in Gregory.
Pepper, the 22-year-old filly came at a price of $160 some two decades ago and was just two years old when she came to know the Barry family.
When Tawny Barry got Pepper at age six or seven, it wasn’t initially a match made in heaven.
“I was terrified of her,” Barry said. “She was so high strung I’d always make my mom ride her first.”
But as Barry got older, a connection started to take shape and by her freshman year of high school, Barry was competing in goat tying on her now beloved Pepper.
“I’ve been doing this with her for eight years,” Barry said. “You start thinking abut the number of runs we’ve made and it’s in the hundreds if not thousands of times we’ve competed. Just like a partner in a sport you click and get in sync.”
Even with a rock-solid horse and years of credentials under her belt, Barry felt compelled to take her fitness to the next level this season.
“Probably the last 18 months I’ve really put a focus towards being in shape and eating right,” Barry said.
Late nights at the gym, early morning runs and countless hours of sweat poured into her craft had Barry in the right frame of mind heading into her senior season.
“I just wanted to get in the best shape of my life so that if something didn’t go right I couldn’t blame it on that,” she said.
This Carter cowgirl caught the rodeo fever early in life, stuck with it and says the people in the sport, even those behind the scenes helped her fall in love with her passion.
Barry plans to continue her education next fall at Eastern New Mexico where she’ll work on her Masters Degree. Because of the additional schooling, Barry will have one more year of collegiate eligibility.
After that, Barry hopes to continue on in the sport to help promote her favorite sport and to produce rodeo shows.