Meet the Member AJae Griffin
story by Michele Toberer Anna Jae Griffin goes by AJae, and the Mississippi native has been a cowgirl for a lifetime, and a Southeastern Professional […]
story by Lily Weinacht
Kortnee Laird competed in her first barrel race when she was ten, following right in her mom’s bootprints, who grew up barrel racing and qualified for the WPRA’s southeastern region finals in 1984. Today, 22-year-old Kortnee from Jasper, Ala., continues to run the cloverleaf pattern, and her competition now includes the SPRA, as well as the NBHA. “I love rodeo!” says Kortnee. “I enjoy the people, and I like the noise and the lights. It’s just more exciting!”
Kortnee grew up entering barrel races with her mom, Tracy Lamb, and though she retired from barrel racing two years ago, Tracy continues to serve as one of Kortnee’s greatest role models. Kortnee joined the SPRA in 2013, and during her rookie year, she broke her leg completely in half in the spring, yet still managed to qualify for the SPFR in January. “I was warming up my backup horse, and he fell with me while we were loping circles,” Kortnee recalls. “I broke my leg on a Sunday, and by that Saturday, I had cut my cast off. I put together a makeshift boot and borrowed a different stirrup from one of my roping friends, and I competed in every rodeo for the rest of the season. I finished fourth or fifth for the year.” One of her favorite parts of the story, however, is when she snuck out to the barn with her boyfriend the night before her first rodeo, and he helped her get on her horse and try out the makeshift boot.
“My horse is really what keeps me going,” says Kortnee. “I love spending time with her!” Lucy Blues, better known as Lucy, started out as Tracy’s barrel horse. “My parents brought her back from Indiana and we sent Lucy to Jeff Smith to put a handle on her,” Kortnee explains. “She won the first show Mom took her to in the 2D.” But soon, Lucy quit turning a good first barrel, so Tracy asked Kortnee to try running a youth barrel race on the mare. “When I jumped on her, Lucy turned that first barrel with me. At the time, I had another horse that I was crazy about and I didn’t want Lucy, but eventually I sold the other horse and it’s been all Lucy ever since! She’s a once in a lifetime horse.” Kortnee even purchased a colt with the same bloodlines as her mare. “I want everything to be like Lucy,” says Kortnee. “Jet is coming along real well, and I’m hoping to keep him a stud.”
Kortnee and her mom make their home in Jasper with their dog, Dottie, while Kortnee’s horses live about ten minutes away on her grandparent’s place. “Granddad furnishes my horse trailer and keeps the lights on at the barn and the water running, so I’m really blessed,” Kortnee says. “I take my barrel racing videos over there and my grandparents help me critique – they’re both very supportive.”
Kortnee’s granddad is also helping her through college. She’s working on her bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Athens State University. “I’ll be teaching K – 6 and collaborative learning, and I think collaborative is the area I’m really going to enjoy,” she says. During the week, Kortnee also tends bar, and she uses her spare time to hunt, fish, or ride four-wheelers with friends.
In 2014, Kortnee was thrilled to win her first saddle as the Cock Your Hammer Tour 2014 Champion Barrel Racer. Of her future goals, she says “One day, I want to compete in the NFR, but right now I would just like to keep placing in rodeos!”
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