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Bringing Home the Gold


Local Teen, Emily Turner, Knows What it Takes to Be a Barrel Racing Champion

Emily Turner has a lot of good influences in her life, and she credits those good influences with helping her and her horse—Honey Blossom Wonder, or Belle for short—to win the 2017-2018 Florida High School Rodeo Association Barrel Racing Championship.  “I’m very thankful that my grandma and my mom and dad have drilled in to me the importance of working hard, putting my school first, being a good person, taking care of my animal, and then being an athlete. This sport makes you such an all-around good person.”  Heading to college as a freshman—with barrel racing a bright part of her future—Ms. Turner can’t thank those who have helped her enough, and she’s of the mindset to continue making everyone around her proud.

Emily credits her grandmother with getting her interested in horses and the rodeo.  “My grandma has been in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association for about 15 or 20 years, and she was quite successful in doing so,” Emily explains.  She maintains that it was her grandmother’s influence that led her to riding and racing.

“At the age of 3 I decided, or I guess she decided, that I was going to start riding.  I didn’t start competitively riding until about 13—which kind of put me behind the other girls that barrel race because they’ve been doing junior rodeoing and doing it since they were about 8 or 9, but her love for horses and her love for the sport of rodeo was transferred to me, and that’s what started my barrel racing career,” Emily says.

Emily has been teamed up with her horse Belle for three years, and Emily maintains they’ve had their ups and downs.  “She is a 7-year-old Palomino mare,” Emily shares, adding, “she wasn’t always the easiest to deal with, but we got past our little battles, and we’ve become successful as a team.”

It seems the duo was meant to be.  “She was always kind of hot-headed with others who got on her,” Emily explains, “but as soon as we started riding and competing together, she and I kind of clicked, and we’ve become a really good team.”

Emily maintained that consistency was what got her to the top and earned her and Belle the championship.  “My first rodeo of the year was a little bit rough. I didn’t get too many points; I wasn’t high up in the average,” she shares.  Things began to turn around after that. “Then my second and third rodeos, I won the averages at those; I won four of the averages this year – the season was very consistent,” Emily shares. “We didn’t hit a barrel all year, which is a big, big achievement.”

While Emily is quick to spread credit for the championship around, she knows her own focus had a lot to do with it as well.  “A lot of it has to do with my mental game,” she shared.  “I’ve studied what it means to have a strong mindset; winning is simply a mindset for me.  If you have your head on your shoulders right, and you know that all you have to do is your job, then your horse is going to do the rest for you if you just do what you need to do for them.”

Emily and Belle have made their way to Shawnee, Oklahoma, to run the International Finals Youth Rodeo.  Then, it’s on to competing at Nationals in Rock Springs, Wyoming. “We’re hoping to represent the state of Florida well the next couple of weeks,” Emily maintains.

This fall, Emily is headed off to college, but she’s not hanging up her rodeoing ways.  “I received a scholarship to run on the rodeo team at McNeese State University in Lake Charles, Louisiana, so while participating in the rodeo team at McNeese State, I will pursue a degree in Animal Husbandry,” Emily shared.

She has her mind set to do just as well in rodeo at college as she has done this past year.  “I hope to make the college finals there, do good in my region; make the college finals, do well in the finals—at least my junior and senior year—and then graduate college,” she explains.  She added that her grandmother’s influence is always present, because after college, she hopes to follow in her grandmother’s footsteps and continue making everyone proud.