Photos courtesy of Jackie Jensen Photography
Lyndsey Orris has been competing in goat tying, break away and team roping since she was a child growing up in Bosque. She was able to compete in the College National Finals Rodeo last month.
Rodeo is in her blood, and for Lyndsey Orris, she was able to show off her skills and passion last month at the College National Finals Rodeo in Casper, Wyo.
While she didn’t do as well as she wanted to in her first time at the event, Orris is grateful for the experience and will use what she learned going forward.
Orris, of Bosque, is a 2018 Belen High School graduate, and is a senior at New Mexico State University, where she’s pursuing a Bachelor of Science degree in nursing. She chose to attend NMSU after receiving a rodeo scholarship.
Orris began to rodeo at 10 years old when her dad, Danny, and grandfather began to teach her the sport of goat tying and breakaway roping.
Goat tying is a rodeo event in which the participant rides to a tethered goat, dismounts, catches, throws and ties any three of its legs together. The goat must stay tied for six seconds after the contestant has backed away from the animal.
“I’ve been tying goats since I was 10,” she said. “My dad and my grandpa both did rodeo, and when my younger brother (Jake) and I were old enough, they started teaching us.”
Orris began her rodeo career on the junior rodeo circuit across the state, competing in Bosque Farms, Mountainair, Belen and other venues. She continued her competitive career through middle and high school.
When she was contemplating higher education, Orris chose NMSU for both its rodeo and nursing programs.
“It had everything I was looking for and everything that I needed and it was fairly close to home,” Orris said. “It has a really good nursing program and a great rodeo program as well.”
When she was younger, her dad was her coach, but as she got older, Orris started attending clinics with Stacey Martin, of Next Level Goat Tying, who helps students build on their skills.
“When I got to the high-school level, I starting tying with her,” Orris said. “She was helping me a lot, giving me lessons and I was going to clinics.”
With the skills she learned with Martin, Orris brought them home and practiced. The BHS graduate said a lot of the training deals with muscle memory, saying she does a lot of slow work.
“I work on my foot work, my flank work … so when I speed it up, it’s smooth and fast,” Orris explains. “At the college finals, it’s down to the tenth of a second. It gets very fast and it really comes down to tenths and hundreds of a second.”
At the College National Finals Rodeo, which were from June 12- 18, Orris was in the top 20 coming into the third round, but was “too long” to make it back and wasn’t able to make it to the final 12.
“I didn’t do as well as I wanted to,” Orris said. “I was good at my first two goats, but things didn’t go my way in the third round.
“I had a great time, and I was glad to go with my teammates and represent New Mexico State,” she said of her first college rodeo finals. “I have one year left of eligibility and one year left of school, so I’m hoping to be back next year and do a little better.”
Saying this year’s experience taught her valuable lessons, Orris will be more prepared if and when she is able to compete at next year’s competition.
“I’ll know who the set up is, and they had a really big crowd at the college finals,” Orris said. “I think my horse will be able to handle it better, too.
“This was my first trip, and I didn’t really know what to expect,” she said. “This is the first year I called the horse that I rode. It was kind of his big competition, too.”
“I’ve had him for about a year,” Orris said of her horse. “Me and my brother got him. He didn’t do a lot when we first got him. I had to retire the horse I had, and (El Chapo) was the only other horse I had, and he really stepped up for me.”
Orris said El Chapo did really well at the college finals, especially for his first year competing.
While Orris works to prepare El Chapo physically for competition, she has her own regiment.
“I go to the gym. I like to go on runs and lift some weights,” Orris said. “I do a lot of jump rope; it helps with foot speed and coordination.”
Along with goat tying, Orris competes in breakaway roping and team roping for the NMSU rodeo team, which is coached by Brice Baggarley.
“This past year, I only did the breakaway and goat tying, but the last three years in college, I did the team roping. I just didn’t do it this year,” she said.
Orris said after she graduates next year, she would love to compete in breakaway in the National Finals Rodeo, but her nursing career will come first.
“I’m not sure if I’ll try and do that,” she said. “I’m not sure what my schedule will be like with nursing. I don’t know if I’ll have time to haul … and compete.
“I’d love to do both, but after the first couple of years out of college, I’d like to focus on nursing,” she said. “I might go out to some amateur rodeos and see where takes me.”
Rodeo will always be a part of Orris’ life, saying she’s learned some valuable lessons from the sport.
“A lot of it is perseverance and working hard,” she said. “If you work hard and you practice, eventually you’ll see the results that you want.”
Clara Garcia is the editor and publisher of the Valencia County News-Bulletin.
She is a native of the city of Belen, beginning her journalism career at the News-Bulletin in 1998 as the crime and courts reporter. During her time at the paper, Clara has won numerous awards for her writing, photography and typography and design both from the National Newspaper Association and the New Mexico Press Association.