No Rest For Top College Breakaway Roper, With Busy Rodeo Life

Riding eight barrel racing prospects every day keeps a college cowgirl busy.

That’s even after school has been dismissed for the summer. Let alone when classes are in session, and she’s competing in some kind of rodeo event more than half of the days in a year.

Busy schedules required considerable phone tag, but the most congenial and horse-contagious cowgirl was anxious to reflect her active horseback lifestyle.

“I’ve been working colts all morning, just came in for a noon break, will probably ride a couple more before heading to a URA  (United Rodeo Association) rodeo tonight at White Cloud.

“I probably have too many horses in training for this time of the year. There’ll be some competition nearly every day for the next week or so,for the eventful fourth run,” related Micah Samples, training now at the family ranch near Abilene.

“I’m home for the summer, and it’s busy, but some easier with my folks here to help. At school, sometimes it gets to really be a lot of work,” admitted Samples, who keeps near equal number of horses with her at college, including a handful of seasoned competition mounts and some colts, as well.

As a member of the Northwestern Oklahoma State University Rodeo Team, Alva, Micah Samples, Abilene, rode her horse called Lucky to tie for first in the short go-round of breakaway roping at the recent College National Finals Rodeo in Casper, Wyoming, ending up fifth in the average at the National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association sanctioned competition.
As a member of the Northwestern Oklahoma State University Rodeo Team, Alva, Micah Samples, Abilene, rode her horse called Lucky to tie for first in the short go-round of breakaway roping at the recent College National Finals Rodeo in Casper, Wyoming, ending up fifth in the average at the National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association sanctioned competition.

Not the slightest regret for the demanding work schedule and never any doubt, Samples loves the cowgirl lifestyle. And, she’s one of the best in the world with easy verification by her most envious nearly two decades record of successes in the saddle.

Daughter of Mike and Donna Samples, the 22-year-old cowgirl just returned from the National College Finals Rodeo in Casper, Wyoming, where she climaxed the 2013-14 National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association season competition fifth in breakaway roping standings.

Competing as a member of the Northwestern Oklahoma State University Rodeo Team, from Alva, Samples tied for eighth in the first-go with a 2.8 seconds run, came back with the same time in the second-go to tie for fifth, had 4.1 seconds in the third-go, and returned to tie for first in the short-go with 2.6 seconds.

“That put me in fifth at the college finals with 12.3 seconds on four head,” calculated Samples. Fourth place was 12.2 seconds.

After ten Central Plains Region Rodeos in Oklahoma and Kansas, Samples qualified for the national competition after ending the past season second in breakaway roping for the region. Her team was eighth out of 31 women’s teams in the yearend national standings.

This was Samples’ second year at Northwestern Oklahoma State, where she’s majoring in agricultural science and mass communications. “I’ll be finishing up next year, but I’ve already completed four years of NIRA eligibility. So, I’ll have more time to ride colts and go to other rodeo and jackpot competitions,” Samples said.

Micah Samples of Abilene was congratulated by her dad Mike Samples at the conclusion of the short-go at the College National Finals Rodeo in Casper, Wyoming, where she tied for first place in the round with a time of 2.6 seconds, riding her horse called Lucky.
Micah Samples of Abilene was congratulated by her dad Mike Samples at the conclusion of the short-go at the College National Finals Rodeo in Casper, Wyoming, where she tied for first place in the round with a time of 2.6 seconds, riding her horse called Lucky.

While she only competed this year in the breakaway roping at the national event, Samples is an all-around cowgirl, also very successfully competing in barrel racing and team roping. “I qualified for barrel racing and breakaway roping at the college finals last year,” said Samples, who also entered successfully in cutting, pole bending and goat tying at junior rodeo and high school rodeos.

Her first two years of college rodeo was as a member of Western Oklahoma State College Rodeo Team in Altus, Oklahoma. “I qualified for the national college finals in breakaway roping my freshman year, but I wasn’t able to make it as a sophomore. The entire team had a tough year,” Samples recognized.

Offered scholarships to be on the Kansas State University Rodeo Team, Samples chose to compete on colleges teams in Oklahoma.  “There are more rodeos and events to enter down south, and the weather is warmer,” she said.

“I really do appreciate the help of my team members and coaches, Guy Smith at Altus and Stockton Graves at Alva, for all of their assistance in the past four years,” Samples acknowledged.

Rodeo is in the cowgirl’s genes, as she’s been riding since old enough to hang on, and competing since before grade school. “My Dad is an all-around cowboy, and my mom competed successfully for many years. They’ve helped, encouraged, provided horses and hauled me all over to rodeos,” Samples said.

Remembering outbreak to the sport at five years of age, Samples was mounted on Scat, a bay gelding. “He was my brother Marshall’s cutting horse that he eventually roped on and competed in rodeos on. I could do anything on Scat, barrel racing, pole bending, goat tying, team roping, breakaway roping. He was good at it all, and we placed and won in all of those events at the junior rodeos,” Samples credited.

“In reality, I have to give much of the credit to Scat for me being the roper I am today. He helped me learn to rope, always at the right place at the right time, so I could make the catch,” Samples added.

However, there’s another mount that gets ample praise from the cowgirl. “Snake is an outstanding barrel horse. He’s a big cow bred looking horse, very broke, bay gelding that gives me an honest run every time out. I’ve competed in and won every level of competition on him at some time or another,” Samples emphasized.

The bay 17-year-old Quarter Horse gelding called Snake took Micah Samples of Abilene to a first place barrel racing finish in her home college rodeo at Northwestern Oklahoma State University in Alva last October. They’ve won barrel racing titles at every level of competition throughout the country, and the cowgirl considers Snake “truly a horse of a lifetime.” (Hirschman photo)
The bay 17-year-old Quarter Horse gelding called Snake took Micah Samples of Abilene to a first place barrel racing finish in her home college rodeo at Northwestern Oklahoma State University in Alva last October. They’ve won barrel racing titles at every level of competition throughout the country, and the cowgirl considers Snake “truly a horse of a lifetime.” (Hirschman photo)

Seldom has the team not been in the money, Samples admitted. “We haven’t hit very many barrels ever, which is uncommon for a horse with Snake’s speed. My favorite memory was the time we won all three days at the Columbia, Missouri, Barrel Bash.

“He’s 17 now, and I still barrel race on Snake. He’s especially good on the indoor patterns, which is also unusual since he’s a 16-hand horse. Snake is truly a horse of a lifetime,” Samples recognized.

However, especially noteworthy, Snake is a one cowgirl, one event horse. “I just ride Snake in barrels. That’s his specialty, so that’s what he does, and earns his keep quite well. Oh, Snake was ridden by cowboys in the feedlot before I bought him, and Dad will ride him around to exercise sometimes. But I’m the only one who rides Snake in competition. That’s the way I prefer it, and he seems to as well,” Samples critiqued.

However, there are numerous other top horses in the Samples barn. “I competed in the Kansas High School Rodeo Association four years and qualified for the National High School Rodeo Finals each year, in different events every time, cutting, breakaway, team roping and barrels,” recalled Samples, who graduated from Abilene High School after completing her senior year in virtual online studies.

Best showing at the high school finals was her freshman year when she was fifth overall in barrel racing on Snake.

Her rodeo competition mount team today includes Lucky and Pig in breakaway, Sprinkles, in team roping and Tag and, of course, Snake, in barrel racing.

Riding her horse called Sprinkles, Micah Samples of Abilene showed her all-around cowgirl ability as she headed a steer in team roping during her home college rodeo at Northwestern Oklahoma State University in Alva last October. (Hirschman photo)
Riding her horse called Sprinkles, Micah Samples of Abilene showed her all-around cowgirl ability as she headed a steer in team roping during her home college rodeo at Northwestern Oklahoma State University in Alva last October. (Hirschman photo)

“We have a set of broodmares and raise a dozen or so barrel and racing prospects every year. We have some cow bred and race bred mares and often mate them to race bred Quarter Horse and proven barrel horse sires,” Samples said.

“Of course, Dad operates Farmers & Ranchers Livestock at Salina, and Mom pretty much is in charge of the horse operation at home. They neither compete personally anymore, but they still provide me with a lot of assistance and advice with the horses and competing,” Samples repeated.

“My brother Marshall has always been helpful. Marshall was still competing when I started roping. He was a top professional team roper and continues to help me if I struggle,” she stated.

Home raised Quarter Horses are most of Sample’s daily riding duties today along with keeping her rodeo mounts fit. “I get the colts started by other riders, so I don’t risk the chance of getting hurt, and then take the horses on slow patterning, and hauling to jackpots for the experience,” she related.

Once ready for competition, the barrel racing horses are seldom ridden by Samples on the pattern at the home ranch, rather just making sure each mount is finely conditioned for ultimate success, or special tuning, if needed.

However, to be a champion roper as she is, Samples must practice herself. “A person just can’t afford to miss with all of the time and expense that goes into rodeo competition these days,” she rationalized.

Not only must there be a catch, but it has to be fast. Her record at the recent nationals is verification of that. Out of 52 ropers in the third go-round, 22 ropers missed their calf, and with what likely seems incredibly speedy to most lay people, Samples’ 4.1 seconds breakaway catch put her 23rd.

“Hey, I don’t miss many, but, of course, it does happen. It takes 2-seconds, or a quick 3-seconds run these days,” she tabulated.

The fastest time in barrel racing at Colby Community College’s National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association rodeo during the 2012-13 season was set by Micah Samples of Abilene on her Quarter Horse called Tag. (northuophotography)
The fastest time in barrel racing at Colby Community College’s National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association rodeo during the 2012-13 season was set by Micah Samples of Abilene on her Quarter Horse called Tag. (northuophotography)

Typically working the heading end of team roping, Samples said, “I can rope both ends and sometimes do heel at all girl events.”

Optimistic for the sports of rodeo, barrel racing and team roping, Samples evaluated, “It costs a lot to compete, and the level of competition is the highest ever. Still, the future is very strong, especially with more added money, and the new All-American Rodeo event with its big payback.

“They only have barrel racing for women at the All-American, but it’s a major boost to the industry,” she continued.

Horses were waiting to be ridden, Samples didn’t say, but urgency could be sensed. “I wouldn’t consider myself a professional trainer, actually yet, but I hope to make a living developing horses and competing in rodeos and other events,” she said.

Samples competes successfully in Women’s Professional Rodeo Association and National Barrel Racing Association events as well as the United Rodeo Association. “At those URA rodeos, I enter the barrel race and breakaway roping,” related Samples, frequent jackpot barrel racing and team roping contestant, who has won at United States Team Roping Circuit events as well.

“I will have a college degree to fall back on if I ever need to, but I like training and competing, always have, and it keeps getting stronger. That’s what my plans are for now,” the all-around cowgirl Micah Samples summarized.

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