story by Lindsay Humphrey Six years ago, McKenna Rud swung her leg over a 3-year-old gelding named Laredo and he’s been her main mount ever […]
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Meet the Member Hayden Jefferies
story by Lily Landreth
“I really love horses, and I really like doing rodeo,” says Hayden Jefferies. The 10-year-old from Apple Valley, California, recently qualified for the Junior World Finals after winning the junior barrel racing in Lincoln, California. She and her mare Ruby started 2020 on a high note, running a 17.2 to win the junior barrels at the KKRFV qualifier put on by Classic Barrel Racing on New Year’s Day. “I didn’t touch the barrels, and Ruby had a really nice turn on the second barrel and I almost fell off,” Hayden recalls. She righted herself in time for the final barrel, however, and punched her ticket for the third time to the Junior World Finals. “I really like the experience,” adds Hayden, who competed in two rounds of barrel racing at the 2019 Junior World Finals. “I like signing autographs and getting to run two or possibly three times, and having the chance of winning a trailer. I’ve made a lot of friends.”
Hayden started rodeoing at a young age, encouraged by her mom, Mindy Jefferies, who showed horses and rodeoed growing up. Hayden competes in the California Junior Rodeo Association and open barrel races, and heard about KKP through a friend, whose daughter qualified in 2017. “Last year Hayden qualified in points, and in Southern California there’s not a lot of qualifiers, so we hauled to three and at the last of the year, she got in,” says Mindy. Hayden competed in her CJRA finals just before Thanksgiving, then headed out of the country to watch her dad, Damen Jefferies, who builds desert race cars, compete in the Baja 1000 before heading to her own race at the Junior World Finals. Just a few weeks later, she ran at the KKRFV qualifier in Lincoln at the Triple Crown Equestrian Center. “It was a beautiful facility, and we got to meet some new kids,” says Mindy. “I really enjoy the focus Kelly puts on good sportsmanship and making new friends, and having new experiences. And of course we want there to be competition and to do the best we can, but the most important thing for me is for Hayden to meet new people and do new things.”
Hayden’s 5-year-old sister, Karsyn, also loves barrel racing and is anxious to compete in her own KKRFV qualifier someday. The sisters ride and practice together daily with help from their mom, using a groomed portion of their field to ride in. Along with barrels, Hayden competes in pole bending, goat tying, ribbon roping, and breakaway roping in the CJRA. She and Ruby are working hard to keep all their barrels and poles up, and continue to build their bond since Hayden’s family purchased Ruby last year. Hayden ropes off of Blackie, who came from her grandma Shelly Capocciama, and ties goats off of Karsyn’s pony Sweetie. Keeping her retired barrel horse, Dasher, in shape is also important to Hayden. Her grandma rides their horses and takes care of them whenever they have to leave town.
A fifth-grade student at Endeavor School of Exploration, Hayden is particularly enjoying her social studies class. She and her friend chose Bartolomeu Dias, an explorer, to do a research project on together, while Hayden also loves to write. Her school holds a young authors contest, and the winner has their book published and available to read at the school library. Hayden’s books have been published the last two years.
If she’s not on horseback, Hayden enjoys riding her Razor UTV, going fishing with her dad, and skiing at Big Bear ski resort. “I want to keep the poles up when I’m pole bending,” she finishes. “And at the Junior World Finals this year, I want to make it to the short round.”