Share “Bareback bronc rider doesn't let blindness...”

Bareback bronc rider doesn't let blindness stop him

Taylor Howell, an 18-year-old who moved to Oklahoma from California, has been blind since the age of 2, when cancer took his vision.
by Graham Lee Brewer Published: July 18, 2014
Advertisement

Taylor Howell was 17 when he straddled his first bronco in a California rodeo.

“I got on a big old monster,” Howell said.

“I entered a rodeo, and it was just the luck of the draw. I got one of the biggest bareback horses I had ever seen. He jumped out there, and my arm got straight, and he blew my hand out of the rigging. I went about 15 feet up in the air. I went upside down and all the way over.”

Only, Howell never actually saw that horse, let alone the dirt with which he was about to collide. He’s been blind since the age of 2, when cancer took his vision. Now, as an eager 18-year-old climbing the ranks of the rodeo circuit, Howell is gearing up for his first semester at Connors State College in Warner, where he’ll be a part of the school’s rodeo team.

Relying on feel

Howell, who is originally from Acton, Calif., said those few seconds of adrenaline were enough to keep him coming back for more.

Last year, he was named California High School Rodeo Association District 9 bareback champion, and garnered the title of all-around cowboy.

Even though he experienced success on the West Coast, the lack of rodeos and chances to ride in California prompted a move to Oklahoma. It just made sense to go where the horses were, to follow the action, he said.

Howell moved to Warner with his grandmother two months ago and will start school at Connors State there in the fall.

Howell said being blind gives him a certain advantage over other riders. He feels the horse move underneath him, rather than watching it and trying to anticipate its next move.

The crowd, the fence, the atmosphere, none of that matters when all you know is what you feel.

“There’s a lot of times you can watch the fence and kind of see which way the horse is going to go and which way he’s thinking about going, but that doesn’t mean he’s going to go there,” Howell said.

“That horse can feel a fly land on his back, and he knows when you’re out of position. And, he’s got you right where he wants you.”

Continue reading this story on the...

by Graham Lee Brewer
General Assignment/Breaking News Reporter
Graham Lee Brewer began his career as a journalist covering Oklahoma's vibrant music scene in 2006. After working as a public radio reporter for KGOU and then Oklahoma Watch he went on to cover the Oklahoma Senate for eCapitol before joining the...
+ show more


Trending Now


AROUND THE WEB

  1. 1
    State Rep. Sally Kern says anti-gay bills are an effort to support traditional values
  2. 2
    New All-Female 'Ghostbusters' Cast Chosen
  3. 3
    James Caan Files for Divorce From His Wife for the Third Time
  4. 4
    Kevin Durant, JJ Watt sign with American Family Insurance
  5. 5
    College Football Playoff semifinals not moving says Bill Hancock
+ show more