In the ultimate mic-drop moment in Las Vegas, Fallon Taylor won the barrel racing in Round 4 of the NFR handily — while wearing a helmet.
Photo used with permission from Fallon Taylor & BabyFlo.
Barrel racing looks so easy — you just run as fast as you can around three barrels and call it a day, right? But the discipline is actually much more technical than it may appear: a successful rodeo run usually looks seamless but there are many components of horsemanship coming together to allow a barrel racing team to nail those three turns at speed.
But even when it’s all done correctly, what looks like a simple game on horseback is still one of the most dangerous disciplines–a horse can stumble at speed, horse or rider can collide with a barrel, a horse can turn so hard on bad footing that his feet slip right out from under him. Barrel horses are notorious for getting hot at the in-gate, leading to dicey situations in packed rodeo grounds. And despite all of these dangers, almost no one wears a riding helmet. The few that do are often faced with endless teasing that can even escalate to bullying; many barrel racers admit that they’d like to wear a helmet for safety reasons but don’t want to face the derision and stigma associated with donning one.
Enter Fallon Taylor.
Fallon’s arguably one of the biggest name in barrel racing right now — she qualified for her first National Finals Rodeo (NFR) at the age of 13, promptly encouraging the Women’s Professional Rodeo Association (WPRA) to pass a new rule that professional contestants needed to be 18 at the youngest. She’s developed a reputation for wearing the most outrageous outfits you’ve ever seen on horseback, going so far as to developing her own clothing line and holding contests to help fledgling designers get their start. She’s famous for being her own woman, strong in the face of sharp criticism. And to top it all off, she’s got excellent horses, including her NFR partner, homebred and home-raised Baby Flo (registered Flo’s Heiress.) So when Fallon makes a statement, people in the barrel racing and rodeo world tend to listen. And in a total mic-drop moment during the NFR’s third go-round, Fallon came flying down the chute and burst into the Thomas & Mack Arena wearing a custom-designed (and totally drool-worthy) helmet, showing the world that safety, in fact, is cool.
And she didn’t stop there. In Sunday night’s Round 4, Fallon blazed into the arena in red, white and blue, including another helmet designed to match her outfit — and she won the round. She held her riding helmet high in her victory lap, hoping to show the world that there was no reason to worry about whether or not you choose to wear one.
Vegas’s newfound helmet-fever is spreading — the Diamonds & Dirt Barrel Horse Classic announced a fundraising challenge to the other NFR barrel racers, promising $100 to K9s for Kids, a charity raising money to help partner disabled children with service dogs, for every cowgirl who wears a helmet for her run.
Thanks to her rounds 2 and 4 wins in Las Vegas, Fallon has moved into the number-one spot in the world and if she can continue to have a blazing-fast NFR, there’s no question that she will take home this year’s world championship and continue to inspire thousands of young cowgirls across the country to dream big, run hard, and be proud to be themselves–whether they wear a helmet or a hat.
Fallon’s adopted Nicole Aichele‘s #helmettough tag and has also created her own (and very Fallon) tag #whatthehelmet. Use these tags in support of ending the stigma against wearing a helmet in all disciplines.