EDITOR’S NOTE: This story appears in the August issue of Women’s Pro Rodeo News, the official publication of the WPRA. It is republished here with the approval of the WPRA.
The reality of Cool Rowdy was that nobody wanted him.
Not the Engessers, who owned him, and not anyone else for that matter. The family from Spearfish, S.D., tried to sell the sorrel gelding at least 10 times, and they never got a nibble.
“Once he got old enough to start riding him, none of us could ride him because he was so rough,” said Taylor Engesser, 19, the oldest of three children to Shorty and Punky Engesser. “We lost some horses a few years ago, and we really didn’t have anything left, so we just started working with Rowdy.
“We quickly learned that if you rode him right, he worked great.”
He works very well, and the young cowgirl learned first-hand in mid-June during a magnificent run through the College National Finals Rodeo in Casper, Wyo. She placed in three go-rounds, two of which she won, and claimed the ever-elusive barrel racing national championship aboard the 19-year-old, out of Cool Deep Margie by Mr Haggard.
A freshman at Gillette (Wyo.) College, Taylor Engesser posted a four-round cumulative time of 55.78 seconds. She just missed out on placing in the opening round with her slowest time of the week, a 14.34, then put together winning times of 13.83 in the second round, 14.03 in the third and 13.58 in the short go-round – she won the second and fourth rounds and placed in the top five in the third round.
“It’s a huge blessing to have made it that far, especially as a freshman coming in there,” she said. “I had nothing to lose.
“I was really nervous about running him indoors, but he actually ended up getting better and better with each run. I don’t know if he really liked indoors or the ground or what, but he ended up being more free, and he ran really well.”
So what changed from those early years? The family began riding him more aggressively, and it’s been a gold mine. Younger sister Rickie, 17, and younger brother Jace, 15, have found success on the gelding.
“We just figured out we had to go, and ever since he’s been great,” Taylor Engesser said. “You’ve got to make sure you ride him right every single time, ride him hard and go at him, then hope it all works out.
“He runs hard all the time. He’s got the biggest heart of any animal. He tries hard in everything he does. He’s an amazing all-around horse, and he can do just about anything.”
So can Engesser, who earned the right to compete at the college finals by finishing second in the Central Rocky Mountain Region’s all-around race. She ran barrels and competed in breakaway roping at Casper after helping the Gillette women to the regional women’s title – she placed sixth in the circuit in barrel racing and fourth in breakaway.
She also competes in goat tying – and rides Rowdy in that competition – but didn’t do so in Casper. She’s taken her rodeo lead from her father, Shorty, who owns Newcastle Motors in Newcastle, Wyo.
“We all got it started by my dad,” Engesser said. “My mom hasn’t done much with rodeo, but throughout the years, she’s definitely learned a lot more about rodeo.
“Dad’s the one who’s down there in the action with us. He roped when he was younger. Ever since I was born, he had me on a horse.”
The love affair continued to grow as she did. Now she’s hoping to parlay that passion with a run a ProRodeo. Through July 1, she had earned $878 on her WPRA permit, so she needed just a little more luck to come her way to secure her card.
“I actually want to get my permit filled so I can get my card and go to Rapid (City) and Denver,” Engesser said. “Realistically, Rowdy is 19, and I don’t know how many more years he has in him.
“I want to wait to rodeo really hard until I have my degree. But I understand that Rowdy is probably going to be done by then. I want to go while I can and hopefully qualify for the Badlands Circuit Finals and maybe the (Ram) National Circuit Finals on him. I know he can compete, and I’d like to ride him there before he gets too old.”
Those are some lofty goals, but she has the support system to make it happen. In addition to her family, she leans on Gillette rodeo coach Will LaDuke and another Gillette man, Jerry Means, who owns the property where Engesser keeps her horses and also assists her throughout the school year.
“I chose Gillette, because it’s a great rodeo program,” she said. “Will is a great coach, and he’s always there if you need him. He’s always taking care of me. I’m glad I went there to be with him.
“Jerry has been amazing for me. He has helped me so much. I’ll call him and ask him for help, and when I get there, he’ll have the claves for me. He’s another one who will help me when I ask. He’s the one reason I like to rodeo so much, because he was always there and is so great.”
Whatever it is, greatness is inspired. Taylor Engesser is proof.