Glen Rose native Taylor Simpson, 12, has already accomplished what many cowgirls dream of doing in a lifetime. She has won eight barrel racing saddles, 17 buckles and hundreds of other awards and cash prizes.
She started competing in cloverleaf barrel races at the age of five and even won her first saddle that year.
“My dad’s whole family has done it and it’s kind of got handed down,” Taylor said. “I have a passion for it.”
Taylor and her dad train every horse she competes on.
“We don’t get to spend much time together, because he’s working, except when he’s coaching me,” Taylor said.
And just like most cowgirls and cowboys eventually learn, life on the rodeo circuit can be tough.
“At six, she had a really bad accident and fractured her skull,” said Taylor’s mom Mary.
But three days later she was back on her horse and broke her personal racing record 10 days later at the Jurassic Classic in Glen Rose.
“That’s when we knew it was God’s plan,” Taylor said.
Taylor won her second saddle in 2006 and has averaged one saddle every year since. But one of her most favorite memories was her first time in the arena at Martha Josey’s Junior World Championship in Marshall in 2007.
“It’s one of the toughest barrel races in Texas, really the world,” Taylor said.
She made the top 20 in the score round and hopes to repeat her performance when she competes there again in May.
Taylor has also competed in the National Barrel Horse Association World Tours four times and qualified for the short go twice, placing second last year.
“She out ran Molly Powell from Stephenville - a pro - two weeks ago,” Mary said.
Taylor is following close on the heels of her idol, Charmayne James. James was inducted into the National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame in 1992 after winning the World Championship Barrel racing title 10 years in a row. She was also the first million-dollar cowgirl in 1990.
But Taylor’s success comes with a price tag. She competes at least once every weekend and runs four horses. The family is planning on traveling to Mississippi and Georgia this summer for races and Taylor wants to compete in four different world shows, two of which she’ll have to qualify for.
Mary said they spend approximately $350 in fuel and fees a week and logged 35,000 miles last year alone. All of Taylor’s cash winnings are put into a savings account.
“She is committed, so we have to back her,” Mary said.
Her sponsors, Saddler’s Western Wear and Ionoclast Boots, help with some of her expenses.
With the whole family frequently on the road, Mary’s mother often steps in to help run the family’s other business, Taylor’s Turn and Burn Café.
The seventh grader still manages to be a typical kid, though, (even texting during her interview) but sacrifices time with her friends so she can train and compete.
“They get kind of mad because I can’t go to parties,” Taylor said.
But with her eye on the prize, Taylor isn’t looking back.
She hopes to attend Texas A&M University on a rodeo scholarship and become a professional cowgirl.
“I want to win NFR (National Finals Rodeo). It’s my dream,” Taylor said. “But I wouldn’t be where I’m at if God hadn’t blessed me the way He has. I want to give all the glory to Him.”