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FORT WORTH -- The rodeo community is mourning the loss of a Tarleton State University student.

Bailey Gasch, 21, died after falling from a horse.

Friday night, the Stockyards Championship Rodeo announcer will ask the crowd to honor Bailey's memory with a moment of silence.

Friends say Bailey approached life just like she approached her horses, head on and headstrong.

'She had that drive. She had that push that she really wanted to do things,' said Daniel Weber, who met Bailey while a student at Tarleton State in Stephenville. 'She was so enthusiastic about horses and about learning. Really, she was just a great person.'

Weber and Bailey became close friends. They shared a love of horses. Bailey rode them, cared for them and even studied them. The 21-year-old was on track to graduate early with a degree in animal production with an emphasis on equine science.

She took a nasty fall from a horse in rural Palo Pinto County and it caused a life-ending injury. She died at John Peter Smith Hospital on Aug. 30.

'She was a very experienced rider. She knew what she was doing, and sometimes freak things just happen. Accidents happen,' said Director of Operations and Sales at Fort Worth Stockyards Championship Rodeo Dee Dee Barker Wix. 'This was just a really tragic one.'

Bailey was well known inside the arena at the Fort Worth Stockyards Championship Rodeo, where she practiced for competitions and proudly circled the Cowtown Coliseum on horseback waving the American flag as a flag girl this summer.

'She just touched the lives of everybody that she was around,' Wix said. 'She was an amazing person.'

Bailey was from Cooper, between Paris and Sulphur Springs. Her friends and family are comforted by the knowledge that she embraced life and all its challenges.

'She's a person that you can look back at and say that she lived to the fullest. I just hope I can say that I can live to the fullest and touch as many lives as she did,' Weber said.

According to her obituary, Bailey's funeral will be held at 1 p.m. Saturday at the Cooper High School Gymnasium. She will be laid to rest at the Evergreen Cemetery in Paris, Texas.

E-mail cwade@wfaa.com

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