BLYTHEWOOD — A decorated racer with the surname of Earnhardt is coming to Blythewood.
Taylor Earnhardt-Putnam, a professional rodeo competitor and the 26-year-old daughter of Dale Earnhardt, is competing in the International Professional Rodeo Association rodeo at the Blythewood Community Center.
The gates open at 5 p.m. Saturday for the Blythewood Rodeo and rodeo begins at 8 p.m.
“We go to the Blythewood Rodeo usually every year,” Earnhardt-Putnam said.
Earnhardt-Putnam said she believes she has competed in the previous five Blythewood Rodeos. The award-winning rodeo rider said she enjoys her time in the area for a variety of reasons.
“It’s location is very good, it’s right off the interstate, and the parking is always good, and we always get there early and go to the little restaurant that’s right across the street,” Putnam said. “We always go over there and eat, so that’s always fun.”
Earnhardt-Putnam said her goals for the Blythewood Rodeo are not substantially different from what she hopes to accomplish in any other rodeo.
“Just to have a clean safe run, and hopefully make a little bit of money and jump up in some points,” Earnhardt-Putnam said.
Earnhardt-Putnam’s appreciation of animals and nature was instilled at a young age, in part, by her father.
“Growing up on the farm, with Dad taking care all the animals we had, also going hunting and fishing, and hanging out, all of that kind of translated into my adult life,” Earnhardt-Putnam said. “I naturally just kind of moved into that area more so than auto racing.”
However,Earnhardt-Putnam has found some elements of racing are applicable to rodeo competition.
“The level of competition is a lot of the same. There’s a lot of girls running for the same thing that you are, and you’ve got to make sure you’re doing everything you can to be on top,” Earnhardt-Putnam said. “It’s a lot different from racing because I’m riding something that’s got a mind of its own too.”
Earnhardt-Putnam said a good barrel racing run has a sublime, smooth quality rather than one of aggressive, frantic speed.
“The smoother you are, the faster you are,” Putnam-Earnhardt said. “A lot of people think you’ve got to be as fast as you can, kick as hard as you can, and just hustle, hustle, hustle, but if you run smooth, there’s no mistakes, no hesitation, and you’ll be a lot faster than if you try to push your horse past what it’s comfortable doing.”
In Saturday’s rodeo, Putnam-Earnhardt’s horse will be an 11-year-old named Mr. C.
Earnhardt-Putnam shared some advice for aspiring rodeo competitors.
“I see a lot of people that have bad runs, or have one bad experience get very discouraged, and my advice to everyone is to just never quit just because you had one bad run,” she said. “You’re always going to have a bad day, and you’re always going to have a good day, so you really just have to push through and keep persevering, and eventually, you’ll get to where you want to be.”
Reach Ben Hohenstatt at 803-635-4016. Follow him on Twitter @WinnsboroHerald.