Meet the Member Keyton Wright
story by Siri Stevens Keyton Wright, from Nephi, Utah, took a quick trip (18 hours) to the Fort Worth Stockyards to show in the National […]
story by Lily Weinacht
Barrel racer and breakaway roper Alexa Nielson of Mona, Utah, is at least the fourth generation of her family to rodeo. A history of horse training and rodeoing goes back as far as her great-grandparents, and 24-year-old Alexa continues that legacy through rodeoing in the RMPRA and training horses with her family. Her dad, Lex, is a former roughstock rider and continues to team rope, and her mom, Elisa, barrel raced in everything from junior rodeos to college and pro rodeos, and trains barrel horses. “I really enjoy performing in front of a crowd, and rodeo is a family thing and what I’ve grown up with,” says Alexa. “It’s a habit — we all load up and go to the barn. Me and my mom will be training or working barrel horses, while my brothers (Rhett and Stran) are bucking out their bulls on the other side of the arena.”
Alexa loves barrel racing as much for the race against the clock as developing the horses that she runs. “My barrel horse is just coming into her peak phase and I know exactly what she’s going to do when we get in the arena, and I love that. My mom usually does the colts and breaking phase and the pattern, and I take them from her and season them. I like the breakaway because it’s a rush, and making sure I don’t break out and seeing how fast I can go. My dad finds all my roping horses, and he and my mom make sure my brothers and I all have really good horses.”
Alexa’s rodeo family is equally supportive of her. After junior rodeoing and advancing to junior high and high school, where she competed in the NJHFR, NHSFR, and the Silver State International Rodeo, Alexa college rodeoed for a semester at Snow College. She eventually decided to pursue rodeo through the RMPRA instead, but not before meeting Kylie Sisam, her roommate. “We became really good friends and traveled together to college rodeos, and she bought her (WPRA) permit with me and we went to pro rodeos last year. She’s helped me with my confidence, and she’s an awesome traveling partner. This last year I started traveling with my fiancé, Weslee Rose, and he saddles my horses for me and pushes my calf. We’ve been friends for a long time — we high school and college rodeoed together.” The couple’s wedding is set for the first weekend of June. “It’s the only weekend we could find!” Alexa says with a laugh. “Every other weekend we have high school rodeos for our siblings, or RMPRA or college rodeos.”
Weslee is also a horse trainer and team roper, and he’s training another breakaway horse for Alexa. Right now, she rides a red roan named Mighty in the breakaway. “We got him from someone who rescued him from the mountains, and we got him back to health and sent him to be trained in breakaway and calf roping. My brother did junior high rodeo on him for a while but decided to do roughstock, so now he’s all mine.” Her 11-year-old barrel horse is Shady, who’s been with the family since she was 3. Alexa’s mom trained Shady and Alexa seasoned her at RMPRA rodeos. “That was definitely a learning curve, but we made it to the RM finals the last two years.”
Between rodeos, Alexa, a cosmetologist, works at a salon in Nephi and is a receptionist for an orthopedic surgeon. She and her family enjoy going to Fish Lake, but it’s more likely they’re either competing in a rodeo or watching one. Alexa’s goal is to be at the RMPRA finals again this year in both barrels and breakaway, while she and Weslee are considering pro rodeoing together next year. “My mom and Weslee and I want to start a colt business where we’re training and selling horses,” she finishes. “We want to have multiple generations of horses coming up so we can make a business out of it.”
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