Long days on the road, only a minute or less in the arena, but if you’re a rodeo kid, you beg your parents every weekend to feel the thrill of being called a rodeo athlete.
For Detroit FFA member Makenna Rodgers, she just finished her 2019 rodeo season with a bang! Not only did she keep busy all season long, but her hard work also paid off at the recent 2019 Texas Jr. Rodeo Finals.
“She won 7-10 All-Around Champion, Goat Tying Champion, Reserve Champion Pole Bender, and received the 7-10 girls sportsmanship award this past weekend!,” said Detroit FFA on their Facebook page.
Adding that she came home with a truckload of fantastic prizes, “We are very proud of you and all of your accomplishments! Makenna attends Detroit Middle School and is a member of Detroit, Jr. FFA,” they said.
“Makenna has always had a love for horses. She never played with babies, dolls, or the typical girls’ stuff, just her horses and barns. My family has always had horses, and she loved to ride,” told mom Shannon Rodgers.
It was back in 2017 when Mackenna decided she wanted to do rodeo. She tried playing softball for a few years and cheerleading, but neither was her thing.
“She was the happiest on the back of a horse. So, we got my brother’s old roping horse, Bucky, and took her to some playdays. She did playdays at Paris Rodeo and Horse Club, Cowboy Crossing Church in Hugo, OK, and at Chisum Trails Cowboy Church in Powderly,” Rodgers explained of the start to her daughters’ rodeo career, “she made her first rodeo appearance that summer at the Paris Rodeo to run junior barrels. Shortly after that, in July 2017, we found her a new horse to step up to. A little red roan mare named Tiny.”
They continued to go to playdays to do barrel racing and pole bending and then decided to jump in a junior rodeo association and also begin goat tying as well.
“We found 44 Rodeo Company. Their season had already started, but we were just looking for experience. In August of that year, we decided to join the OYRA, Oklahoma Youth Rodeo Association,” she added.
Then during the 2019 season, Mackenna joined the SOJRA, Southeastern Oklahoma Junior Rodeo Association, in January.
A few months later, in April, she had her first finals for the 44 Rodeo Company.
“Since we had started late, she only received a few prizes, but she was so proud! Shortly after this, she started learning to breakaway rope,” Rodgers said.
April also saw the young Mackenna join the TJRA, Texoma Junior Rodeo Association. And although she had joined a few associations, it wasn’t until June of 2018 at the OYRA finals that Mackenna would see her first big win in the sport.
“She won her first saddle for 2018 9 & under Reserve All-Around Cowgirl,” Rodgers explained.
During that summer, she ran junior barrels at the Paris Rodeo and Bogata Rodeo, winning both. She also ran at the Wright City, OK rodeo, the Best of the Best in McAlester, OK, Commerce FFA rodeo, and Rattan FFA rodeo.
As Mackenna became more confident and more competitive, her parents invested in further into her career and were able to get her Zippy, a pony, to help her in the goat tying event.
Come September; they attended a Martha Josey Barrel Racing Clinic at the world-renowned Josey ranch in Marshall, where Makenna was the Open 2D Champion.
“By this point, we were rodeoing almost every weekend and attended barrel/pole jackpots any time we were free. Makenna and Tiny have won and placed at several jackpots throughout their two-years together. It would take forever to count them all,” proud mom Shannon said.
After a very successful 2018 season, where Mackenna picked up more titles and prizes, she continued her drive in 2019 by joining another association in February, and a goat tying clinic with Stacey Martin in March.
In May 2019, she ran at the Josey Reunion, won money, and qualified for finals running against NFR qualifiers, futurity trainers, UPRA members, and several other fierce competition.
This feat alone can help a young barrel racer gauge where they are competitive. And to have been able to run against professional barrel racers on a full-size course is an accomplishment of its own.
Fast forward to May at the EYRA Finals.
She was the 10& under Barrel Racing Champion, Pole Bending Champion, Goat Ribbon Pulling Champion, and the Reserve All-Around Cowgirl. Quickly on the heels of that association, Mackenna attended her second OYRA finals in June right after she got her breakaway horse, Leroy.
This past summer, she ran junior barrels at the Paris and Bogata Rodeos again along with the Hugo, Boswell, Soper, and Rattan FFA Rodeos.
In July, she decided to go out and get her some sponsors. ARC Metal Fab & Construction, Pit Side VP Racing Fuels, Whitaker’s Towing and Recovery, Norment & -Landers Insurance, Hicks Muffler & Tire, and South Main Iron all agreed to sponsor her.
“She is so proud to represent these local businesses at her rodeos,” Shannon said.
Battling through horse injuries, as Tiny was injured for a short time, the team bounced back and finished the season off strong.
“To say our family is proud of her would be a huge understatement! She puts everything she has into this sport. It takes a lot of dedication and hard work to accomplish what she has so far. She is the only one who works her horses; no one else rides them for her. She’s a little bossy when it comes to that. Lol. She loves rodeo and her horses!” Shannon said.
With a long list of people, Mackenna is thankful for their help over the past two years; she also knows that a large part of her success is from her team of great horses.
“Most importantly, her team of horses. Tiny, Zippy, and Leroy. They mean more to us than gold! They love their job and love their girl even more,” she added proudly, “we’ve made so many amazing memories and have met a ton of awesome rodeo people. We are so excited about the future and all the memories to be made.”
As far as the future goes, Makenna has another Martha Josey Barrel Racing Clinic the day after Thanksgiving. While most people are Black Friday shopping, she will be running barrels. After this, she will have a break during December and will be going to watch her first National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas! She will continue to rodeo with OYRA, TJRA, do jackpots and plans to join the Texas Junior High Rodeo Association next year.
Her big plans are to do junior high, high school, and college rodeo while going to school to be a Vet. She even dreams of competing at the National Finals Rodeo one day.