By marlys good
Taylor Werbelow has a good shot at going to the National High School Finals Rodeo in Rock Springs in July. Werbelow, competing in high school rodeo for the first time, is currently second (with 94 points) in the state standings in barrel racing.
The top four individuals in the state earn a berth in the National High School Finals Rodeo.
The Emblem native and daughter of Victor and Julie Werbelow also competes in pole bending, but is too far back in the pack for a realistic shot at state.
Memorial Day weekend was a good one for Werbelow and her horse “Smurf.” The two took top honors in Buffalo with a time of 17.787, and followed that up with a third place and second place in a two-day event in Sheridan.
Last weekend she competed in Douglas and came away with the first-place buckle. Now all she has to do is hold on to her second place through the State Finals coming up in Douglas June 14-15.
“Smurf,” was given to Werbelow by a friend six years ago. Her mother thought the horse was “too much, too big” for her daughter to handle, so they called on Ramon Castro to “break” the horse to ride. Taylor did the rest and spent hours training her to run the barrels.
Two years ago, when “Smurf” was 5, Werbelow used her some in competition, but last year “she came into her own,” and has been Werbelow’s constant companion on the barrel-racing circuit since, although Werbelow takes a “spare horse” along in case Smurf gets injured.
The NHSFR is the world’s largest rodeo, drawing about 1,500 contestants from across the United States, Canada and Australia. Athletes vie for national titles, assorted prizes and a share of thousands of dollars in college scholarships.
Werbelow, who graduated from Riverside High School May 18, received a scholarship to Northwest College next year; she’s looking forward to competing with the NWC rodeo team.
Werbelow will spend the summer working for Bill and Carol Smith on their Wyoming Quarter Horse Ranch in Thermopolis. Odds are she will be taking “Smurf” along.