From the June 2018 Issue, photos provided by Makayla Fulfer
Makayla Fulfer started riding horses to help her deal with conflict.
“I started riding horses at 8 years old, a year after my parents got divorced. My dad took me to horse lessons and that’s where I got my basics,” she said. “I learned how to ride horses from my dad and being around cowboys. Most of it is from observing other people and [being] basically self taught.”
Makayla now rides and trains horses, documenting her journey with each animal on her Instagram page.
“Horses have always been my passion since I was little. I love to help a horse learn something new and turn them into something amazing. It’s such a good feeling when you get your horse to do something and you can say that you got it there and made that horse what he is,” she said. “It’s a great feeling to win on a horse that you trained, rather than just paid money for.”
A few months ago, Makayla took up an interest in ranch broncs.
“I always thought it looked fun but didn’t think I had the guts to get on one! In Cody, Wyoming, they have the Cody Nite Rodeo every night during the summer. I had found out that they had them in August which gave me a few opportunities to ride. I climbed aboard and nodded my head and the gate swung open,” she said.
And although the two don’t seem related, riding ranch broncs actually helps Makayla in her colt starting career.
“The power of those bucking horses is unreal! It gives me such an adrenaline rush that drives me to get on more! I want to be able to cover most of them, that is my goal. I think it’s a good thing to know how to stay on a bronc because in horse training you never know when that horse is going to blow up, therefore, it’s a useful skill to know how to stay on a bucking horse.”
She’s learned quite a bit in the few times she’s been on the back of a ranch bronc, and continues to learn more with every ride.
“I learned that just because it looks easy, doesn’t always mean it is. Ranch Bronc may look like you just need to hang on, but there’s a lot more technique to it than just that,” she said. “I’ve also learned that a woman can do anything a man can, and sometimes better. Each time i’ve competed, I've been the only girl. I’m 17 now, almost 18, but it is somewhat intimidating being so young, and a woman.”
At first Makayla was nervous, but now she knows she can compete against anyone she’s up against.
“I know that I can handle competing against men. I’ve also learned that practice makes perfect,” she said. “I still haven’t got the hang of Ranch Bronc but I know that I just need to keep getting on one and I will get better. I am not going to give up!”
Makayla currently has three horses in her personal training program, but a little red roan named King is her first.
“I started him last April. At first, he was very skittish and high headed. He didn’t like me touching him and would flinch at everything,” she said. “This was my first horse that I started on my own, so I was a bit nervous. I did lots and lots of ground work on him, getting him to be soft and used to being around me. He’s never bucked or offered to buck, which was a good sign to me. I was swinging a rope off of him on his fifth ride and had him outside of the round pen and riding around. King is now my most go-to horse when I need to do anything. I can ride him outside bridleless and bareback without any worries. He is truly perfect!”
In the next five years, Makayla hopes to have a steady horse training business going, and to compete in her new favorite sport.
“I plan to still be riding ranch broncs and going and showing my horses. I see myself either working on a ranch or day riding for people,” she said. “I know one thing for sure, I will be doing something with horses!”