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Meet the Member – Jayde Atkins
story by Siri Stevens
Jayde Atkins is the Reserve National High School Champion in the Reined Cow Horse. The 17-year-old competes in all the events, and was delighted when they added reined cow horse. “I have the horse power and I view it as if I’m going to go, I might as well do everything.” Rodeo is her life in the summer, she doesn’t work or do fall sports, and she spends her time riding young horses and keeping her older horses tuned up. She has been to the National High School Finals all three years, this year competing there in four events, barrels, poles, cutting, and reined cow horse. She remembers going into the short go for the Reined Cow Horse. “Everybody in the short go at Nationals knew each other – they were from California, Oklahoma, Arizona, and Texas – and then there was me – from Nebraska.” Her parents (JB and Sonya) had competed in the event prior to Jayde’s rodeo career. “Most of the kids that competed from Nebraska are ranch kids that know how to read cattle and are not afraid of going fast. Everybody had fun.” Jayde loves the event. Jayde’s parents are horse trainers and when they were doing the event competitively, they would buy young two-year-olds and train them for the event. “My horse came from Nebraska, and was a young horse. My parents trained him as a futurity & derby horse and showed him at the AQHA World Show.” Jayde started competing a little in her 7th and 8th grade year in the Reined Cow Horse, but gave it up for the high school rodeo. “My mom was really beneficial to our state as far as helping the kids in the state learn the event. Both my mom and dad put on a couple clinics and would talk to the kids about tips and safety things prior to the event at each rodeo.”
Jayde loves reined cow horse, and now that it’s an event, she is torn between which event is her favorite – that or pole bending. “The bad thing about pole bending is there is no future in it as it is not offered at the Collegiate or professional rodeo level. In both events, you can’t just sit there and ride. You have to have control and work with your horse.” She also realizes that she wouldn’t be where she is without her sponsors and parents. “Edward Jones, Trotters Inc., the Outfitter, and my mom and dad, friends and family are always encouraging me and making it worthwhile.”
Jayde is going to be a senior this year at Broken Bow High School. “It’s pretty scary, but I’m enjoying it. I remember being the freshman eighth grader thinking the seniors looked so old. I don’t feel old.” Jayde had an older brother, Sterling, who passed away three years ago. He high school rodeoed and was a freshman at Chadron State College. “He was really influential on me and is one of the reasons I still rodeo.” Sterling was in college and essentially had a heart attack and died while watching TV with his girlfriend. “It was really, really tough and we all learned how amazing God and friends are. We’ve had a few other rodeo friends pass away, and I have been able to help the kid’s families through my experience.”
This year, she is going to focus on getting back to Nationals, and keeping her horses sound – this year has been better. “Last year was a nightmare. My pole and barrel horse got hurt the first rodeo of Spring – I qualified for Nationals on my breakaway horse. Then my goat horse died … but this year has been really easy.” She is planning to go to college and focus on school, not rodeo. She is hoping for a career in Ag Business and concentrate on Finance. She will work on her futurity barrel horses and go pro when she graduates from college. “I like being prepared and I want to spend the money to go pro and keep my education my priority,” she said of her decision not to college rodeo. “You can only go so far with rodeo … and I want something to fall back on.”
Photo Caption Jayde’s cow horse also has won high school rodeo buckles in cutting and tie down with her brother, break a way and pole points with Jayde and made the top 10 at the AQHA Youth World in Reining and Working Cow Horse with Sterling as well.