GREENVILLE — Layton Davis, a junior at Ansonia High School, has earned a position on the Indiana state/provisional National High School rodeo team and has been traveling with fellow teammates on the annual National High School Finals Rodeo (NHSFR) circuit.
This was the second year that Davis qualified. As a freshman, she went to nationals and was named in the top four and last year qualified in breakaway roping competition, winning 66th out of 180 contestants.
Davis has been a student at Ansonia since eighth grade, when her family moved to this area from Moreland, Indiana, after purchasing the Kowboy Corral, west of Coletown.
“I had come to a few rodeos here and Dad found out it [the business] was for sale,” recalled Layton, daughter of Jay and Amii Davis “He decided to buy it.”
Mother Amii said Layton has always been around horses.
“She was riding before she could walk,” said Amii.
How did Layton become involved with the rodeo?
“My older sister, Kaitlin, played volleyball with this girl who got me and my middle sister, Alexandra, interested in rodeo,” the junior said. “We had trail horses.”
According to her mother, Layton started Southern Indiana Junior Rodeo in Salem, Indiana, the summer between her third- and fourth-grade years of school. She then started competing with the junior high school group, comprised of sixth- through eighth-graders, and now with high school rodeo.
At the rodeos, Davis competes in breakaway roping, goat tying and barrel racing. She feels she does the best in goat tying.
“She has been to the national competition, where they take the top four competitors from each state to go to finals,” Amii said. “Layton went to Gillette, Wyoming, last year and Rock Springs this year.”
The rodeo season, said Amii, runs on the school year.
“She is now starting with the next season,” she said. “Last weekend, Layton got number two in the state for goat tying. We try to go to two rodeos per weekend, Saturday and Sunday, and five in the fall and spring for a minimum of 10. The state finals are in June and hopefully she will finish in the top four again.”
Layton competes against girls in five events.
Now, she is the only one in the family competing. Sister Kaitlyn was never interested, but has a son who likes to trail ride, and Alexandra now has a 2-year-old child who is starting to ride.
“I practice on my own horses and then compete with the team,” Layton explained.
Even though they moved to Ohio, Layton decided to stay with the Indiana team, because her father is national director. If she would have gone with the Ohio team, her father and the director of Ohio, Gordon Bacon, would both have had to have approved it.
Yes, she has been injured doing what she likes best, like when she broke her shoulder in eighth grade while goat tying. The accident occurred on Labor Day with her doctor releasing her the beginning of the following January.
“But, I still rode,” said Layton.
At Ansonia, Layton is taking two classes, chemistry and algebra, as well as Edison State classes, starting Aug. 29.
“She takes the academic courses,” said Amii. “Her goal is to have a rodeo scholarship and get a full ride to schools either in Montana, Texas or a couple in Oklahoma. She has talked to coaches at nationals.”
After college, Layton is contemplating becoming a vet tech for equine rehabilitation.
“Layton is very dedicated to the horses,” Amii said of her daughter. “It is definitely her passion and she loves to share it with people.”
Layton’s spare time also involves the equine industry.
“I ride all of the time,” she said.
“She gets up early in the morning and rides and exercises her horses and does the same in the evenings,” Amii said.
Layton has three horses of her own — Ima, Blue and Layla — with the family having a total of six. She rides Ima for barrel racing; Blue for pole bending, breakway and goat tying; and Layla for fun.
“I do a cutting event on Layla,” said Layton.
The teen said she also goes to rodeos in the area, such as in nearby Bartonia, Indiana.
“I go to barrel races and other fun shows,” she said.
She is a member of the International Professional Rodeo Association (IRPA); thus competing at the Great Darke County Fair is a conflict…only because they must leave their animals at the fair during fair week, and she would not be able to take her horses to other rodeos during that time.
With the IPRA, she is a member and 4-H leader of the Henry County, Indiana, Saddle Club in Newcastle.
Featuring more than 1,650 contestants from 43 states, five Canadian provinces and Australia, the NHSFR is the world’s largest rodeo. In addition to competing for more than $200,000 in prizes, NHSFR contestants also competed for more than $350,000 in college scholarships and the chance to be named an NHSFR World Champion.
To earn this title, contestants must finish in the top 20 based on their combined times/scores in the first two rounds, to advance to Saturday evening’s final round. World Champions will then be determined based on their three-round combined times/scores.
Along with the rodeo competition, and the chance to meet new friends from around the world, NHSFR contestants have the opportunity to enjoy shooting sports, volleyball, contestant dances, family-oriented activities, church services sponsored by the Fellowship of Christian Cowboys and shopping at the NHSFR trade show.
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