story by BreAnne Benson “My favorite thing about KK is the people I’ve met over the years… I’m going to college with the girls I’ve […]
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Meet the Member Jayci Byler
story by Lindsay Humphrey
Even though Bellville, Texas, native Jayci Byler was elated to finish in sixth place at the 2020 Junior World Finals, she’s coming back in 2021 with her eyes on first. She’s already started the year off strong by qualified for the senior barrels by taking first place at the Waco Texas Circuit Youth KK Run for Vegas qualifier in Waco, Texas. “I was really happy to be going back again this year, I was thrilled. It was an exciting moment for me,” said the 17-year-old.
Last year when Jayci qualified, it took everything she had to keep her cool on the outside, but inside her heart was racing. The same as her first time, Jayci qualified on 14-year-old mare, My Fame Us Lady. “My mom started working with her when she was 4 and I’ve ridden her ever since then. She’s a really nice mare that looks out for me. Even when I do something wrong, she helps fix those mistakes for me. And she tries with all her heart every run.”
Most days it’s just Jayci and her mom, Kimmi, but her dad, Jesse, and twin brother, Blaze, are also key components of the equation. “My mom is always by my side, coaching me and helping me with whatever I need. She makes me her number one priority. She’s taught me so many life skills and lessons; she’s amazing at that.” Jayci’s dad is very much a go-with-the-flow kind of guy but helps out whenever he’s needed. The same is true for Blaze. “Both sides of my family are really big rodeo people. They introduced us to it so we would have that door open if we wanted to pursue it.” For Jayci, it was love at first sight for both her first pony and the sport of rodeo.
“For a while, I really wanted to do competitive cheerleading. If I wasn’t riding my pony or going to school, I was at cheer practice. I had a big girl moment when I was 6 and I had to decide between doing cheer or rodeo.” Even though it was a tough decision, rodeo won out in the end and Jayci has never regretted the decision. As a high school junior, Jayci is a cheer leader for the Faith Academy of Bellville Knights. “My grandma, Marlene Byler, actually founded my high school about 50 years ago. There’s only about 300 students from preschool through high school.” A self-proclaimed nerd, Jayci enjoys studying history the most. And she actually finds school to be somewhat relaxing. “I love my friends and my teachers because they’re all so nice. Even though it can be stressful sometimes, school can be a quiet place away from rodeo for me.”
Both Jayci and her brother compete in the Texas High School Rodeo Association as well as the Youth Rodeo Association (YRA) on a regular basis. Of course, Jayci runs barrels in high school rodeo, but she also ropes calves, runs poles and ties goats. “My goal for this year is to make it to the state finals in Abilene so I can at least have a shot at making nationals again. Last year I went in poles, but I would really like to make it in the barrels.”
Backed by an incredible family, Jayci also finds support from the village of people she’s met on her own and through her mom. “Those people are really on the ball when my mom’s not there. I have a village of great people who are always willing to help when we need it.” Jayci also proudly wears patches from her sponsors: Classic Equine, Elgin Vet, Charlie 1 Horse, Rock N Roll Cowgirl, Oxygen, Martin Saddlery, Double XX, Tanner Equine, Texas Equine Hospital, TOML, Silver Horse Care, RadialWave, Horse Swim, R Barrel Horses, DM Quarter Horses, and RM Barrel Horses. “My sponsors are all amazing and I love representing them. I really appreciate all of their support.”