story by Siri Stevens Cole Steib’s first year in the Louisiana Junior High Rodeo was successful. The sixth grader made it to Nationals in the […]
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Meet the Member Jaden Thomas
story by Michele Toberer
With just a glance around Jaden Thomas’ DeRidder, Louisiana home you will see the signs of a champion. There are buckle cases bursting with over 150 trophy buckles and a total of 21 trophy saddles, all earned in the past 8 years, but the saddle and buckle that stand above the rest in her eyes are the ones she just earned as the 2018 Louisiana Junior High Rodeo Association All-Around Cowgirl. That title is what Jaden has had on her mind since she started with LJHSRA as a 6th grader, and although she has come close, winning Reserve All-Around Champion Cowgirl both her 6th and 7th grade years, she was extremely grateful to accomplish her goal in her final year of junior high rodeo. “It was very satisfying to win the all-around title this year, after coming so close to it the past two years.”
Jaden is a second-generation cowgirl, making rodeo a huge part of her life just as her mother Shanna did when she was growing up. Shanna, who works as an IT tech at Rosepine High School, is a LHSRA alumna and started Jaden off at an early age down the rodeo path. Jaden has competed in the Little Britches Association since she was 6-years-old, when she won her very first buckle and saddle, and has competed in 8 National Little Britches Finals Rodeos. This year she was joined by her 9-year-old brother Lane, who is also now competing. Jaden’s dad Brandon, a chemical engineer at Ingevity, did not have a background in rodeo, but jumped right into the lifestyle, learning all he could about being a great rodeo dad. He often judges at rodeos and even used his chemical engineering expertise to develop Equine Catalyst, a joint supplement for horses to keep Jaden’s horses in rodeo-ready shape.
Jaden’s 6th grade year of LJHSRA, she was the barrel racing and pole bending champion, and made it to the top 20 in her events at the 2016 Junior High National Finals. In 2017, at the NJHSFR, she and her palomino gelding Vegas ran the fastest pole bending time of the week, winning the second round with a 19.5 second run. Jaden has been riding the 16-year old Quarter Horse for almost 9 years, running him in barrels and poles, and trained him to run poles herself. “My fastest time in poles on Vegas has been a 19.2, he is a great horse, and very comical. He likes to stick his tongue out for no reason at all.” This past year Jaden was able to secure her all-around title by earning the 2018 LJHSRA Champion Barrel Racing, Pole Bending and Goat Tying titles, also qualifying for Nationals in ribbon roping with partner Matt Glover. At the 2018 NJHSFR in South Dakota, she finished in the top 20 goat tyers in the world. Although her mom has helped teach her most of the rodeo events, she appreciates Stacy Martin’s help with her goat tying skills. Besides her LJHSRA and NLFBR rodeo success, Jaden is also proud of winning the pole bending saddle at the Martha Josey Reunion in Texas this spring. “Before I make a run, I try to picture the perfect run in my mind.”
Jaden, an honor student, will be a freshman at Rosepine High and looks forward to math classes the most. With the dedication to practice rodeo, she doesn’t have much time for other hobbies or sports but did enjoy playing basketball before starting 6th grade. Besides practice, she is also responsible for cleaning stalls in the barn, and helping take care of the family’s two dogs, Copper the Corgi, and Koda the Dachshund, Jaden’s constant companion. Jaden is glad to have her grandparents, Beth and Frank Thomas living just across the pasture from her and appreciates their support; They’ve traveled with her to every one of her National Finals she’s been to. She has loved competing in the LJHSRA, and that the friends she has made in LJHSRA are like family too. Jaden would love to take a trip to watch the National College Finals Rodeo, or the WNFR, but her biggest dream would be to compete there alongside her favorite barrel racer, Lisa Lockhart. Jaden appreciates Equine Catalyst and FlowBoot supporting her in her rodeo endeavors.