story by Lindsay Humphrey “I was born carrying a rope.” It’s a bold statement from 14-year-old Gunnar Tipton who’s been roping calves and heels competitively […]
Association MemberJoin Rodeo News
Meet the Member Jacee Burney
story by Lindsay King
Jacee Burney can remember the happiest day in her life: the Friona, Texas, cowgirl caught her first calf in a rodeo and captured third place in the process. At a High Plains Junior Rodeo Association event in Lovington, seven-year-old Jacee threw her first competitive breakaway loop for a catch. “My dad (Cody) rodeoed before me and is a cowboy, so he just started putting me in play days when I was four. As we got better, we competed in bigger associations,” said the 12-year-old. Though she competes in poles, goat tying, team roping, ribbons, and steer stopping, the clover leaf pattern is what made Jacee fall in love with rodeo.
Dubbed the “time keeper,” Jacee’s mom Melinda is also the loudest in the stands. From here seat in the crowd, Melinda has the averages totaled long before anybody else. “My dad helps me practice the most and helped get me where I am today. When he helps me rope calves, he always reminds me to keep my elbow up and stand square in my saddle. Jacee’s brother Cutter, 9, is also an avid roper. “I love getting to rodeo with him even though we argue sometimes. I like roping with him because we get to practice together. We won the average in the team roping together at the high plains finals in 2018.” Placing well in the High Plains Rodeo Association is an old habit for Jacee now that she’s won six saddles total.
“I consider myself an underdog because when I was little I used to be last place in every event. Things started to click when I was nine and I started placing and taking home the buckles and saddles.” The underdog story is one Jacee loves about Fallon Taylor’s Baby Flo. The short sorrel can run with the best of them and it makes him Jacee’s favorite. The inspirational barrel racer gave Jacee the extra push she needed to represent the NMJHSRA at nationals last year in the poles. “Making it to nationals is overwhelming, but exciting. Once you get there it is absolutely surreal. I have been practicing more and being confident in what I can do so I can make nationals again.”
Much of Jacee’s journey to today has been about learning to take constructive criticism and remaining humble in good times and bad. Hours on end spent in the car are Jacee’s least favorite part of traveling down the rodeo road. But arriving at Socorro, Jacee’s favorite arena, always puts the memories of the long car ride with her brother at the back of her mind. “The ground is really good for my horses. Since they have an indoor and outdoor arena that makes things go faster when you are doing both speed and roping events.” Competing on older horses makes Jacee more aware of the ground and where the good arenas are located. “Both my barrel and pole horse are older (16 and 15), so we have to get them injected. We have to leave them off for two weeks afterward before we can get back to practicing.”
These frequent trips to the vet got Jacee interested in becoming one herself, specializing in horses of course. Though the Friona Junior High seventh grader would never even consider pursuing something other than rodeo, she plays volleyball at school. “It is really competitive just like rodeo. It also makes me a better athlete and helps me with my legs so I can sit better.” She also runs track, plays basketball and is in cheer. The competitive nature of the association and her friends keeps Jacee practicing early in the morning and late night. She has hopes for another shot at a national championship in 2019.