ENID, Okla. (AP) -- Saddle bronc rider Tyler Blount hadn't been on the high school rodeo circuit long, but he was always a cowboy, says pro rodeo competitor Dennis Foyil.
"He was a great, great cowboy," Foyil said Sunday, a day after the 17-year-old from Guthrie was killed when he was thrown from a horse during the Oklahoma High School Rodeo Association finals in Enid.
"He was always roping, always riding horses. He had been riding saddle bronc for a year and went to a saddle bronc school. It was a tragedy it had to stop. He milked cows, bucked horses and fished, but there was nothing he would rather do than rodeo," Foyil said.
Blount died about two hours after being struck in the back of his head by the horse's hoof.
Paul Luchsinger, president of the rodeo association, said that when the horse bucked sharply to the left, Blount fell toward the right. Blount's left foot was still in the stirrup and the cowboy was carried under the horse and he was struck in the head.
Luchsinger said there was no error. He said the death was an unfortunate accident.
After Blount's accident, students placed his bronc saddle and chaps on a horse and led the animal into the arena for an empty horse ceremony. A second horse was brought in with an empty saddle to honor Jessica Sears, 17, of Copan, who died in November after a lengthy illness. Susie Luchsinger sang "Amazing Grace."
Pat Blount said his son seemed at peace Saturday before the competition. On the trip to Enid, Tyler Blount told his father he knew God was with him and he had nothing to worry about.
Later, the young rodeo performer ate three cheeseburgers. Blount said his son would never eat before a rodeo. He saw the meal as a sign of peace. "Ty was relaxed and laughing all afternoon," he said.
Tyler Blount was a junior at Guthrie High School. He was making his sixth saddle bronc ride at a rodeo and had recently attended the Deke Latham Memorial Saddle Bronc Riding School in Goodwell.
Paul Luchsinger, who has been involved in the state rodeo competition since 1975, said this was the first time he had witnessed a death during the competition.
"This is a good reminder to all of us that we need to live life to the fullest," he said.
Foyil's younger brother Nathan was Blount's best friend.
Foyil accepted a belt buckle in Blount's memory during the awards ceremony. "You shouldn't be afraid to go after your dreams and your goals. That's exactly what Tyler was doing. He was living life to the fullest and going after his dream and what he wanted to do. He was a young man with so much talent," Foyil said.
"He was always happy, always smiling -- a great kid to be around. You never knew what he was going to do to make you laugh next. He was a class act."
Blount is survived by his parents, Pat and Vicki Blount, two brothers, Matt and Mike and his grandmother.
Services are set for 2 p.m. Tuesday at Community Church near Guthrie.