Meet the Member Ryan Bestol
story by Lindsay Humphrey “I’m not much of a planner,” said Ryan Bestol of his storied rodeo career so far. “When I get something in […]
story by Lindsay King
Nothing is quite as sweet for Jessica Wykert from Grant, Nebraska, as barreling down an alley way on a horse she trained with her dad. Growing up on a ranch in the sandhills of Nebraska with her parents Mike and Peggy Coffman, meant Jessica spent hours with the horses in many capacities. “My dad rodeoed, and my mom ran barrels a little bit, so I was always around ranching and rodeo. Competing was just something I always wanted to do. I picked it over everything else,” said the NSRA barrel racer. Self-described as the silly, horse-crazy girl, Jessica spent hours watching her dad break a young horse. All the horses Jessica has competed on come from the family training program. “My dad and I would spend hours in the roping pen on the young horses when I was growing up. All the rope horses could also do barrels and poles.”
It comes as no surprise that most of Jessica’s early success comes from breakaway roping. From making high school nationals and the college finals to winning the average at the NSRA finals, Jessica and her breakaway partner Blaze have seen it all. “I always had a number one and a young horse going. When my good horse got hurt I did not have another going. Now he is passed to my kids and his role has changed.” The mother of two, Jackson, 11, and Marisa, 7, Jessica now schedules her rodeos around that of her family.
“My husband Kraig and I have been married for 15 years, he also rodeos. He team ropes and used to tie calves back in the day when we had more time to practice before we started our family.” Both the kids do both junior rodeos and jackpots and have successfully taken over Jessica’s and Kraig’s old rodeo horses. “It is fun to see them competing and have success on our horses that we had so much of our own triumphs on. The first time Jackson roped competitively on Blaze, I was in tears. He did so good for him.”
A big fan of consistency, Jessica’s favorite memories are made winning averages more so than taking first. “I have had a lot of success in the barrels the past couple of years because I have two horses who love their job. They are also horses that my dad and I made together.” Both of these horses, a mare and gelding, made the BBR short round this year, a huge goal of Jessica’s. Her gelding also took her to the American semi-finals. “I have never run against that type of competition. We were out of the top thirty by only 0.25. We made a minor misstep on the first barrel and that was definitely not the day for a mistake. I was just plum tickled with him though.”
Jessica would like to make the American semi finals again, but with both horses this time. “It was really demanding though since it was in the winter and we all know how that can be in Nebraska. It was tough to keep my horse in shape.” Though rodeo is not her full-time job, Jessica’s job with WellCare of Nebraska makes it easier for her to keep competing. “I work from home and serve providers on the western side of the state. I help them with contracting, claims and credentialing.” Unfortunately, both of Jessica’s barrel horses have minor injuries at the moment, but she still has the goal of making the NSRA finals. A member for the last 20 years, Jessica has made the finals a majority of them. “I enter about 10-15 rodeos a year, enough to make the finals but not enough to ever realistically win it. I am planning to get to more of the bigger barrel racing jackpots in South Dakota, Nebraska, Colorado and Kansas because both of my horses run well in those settings.” She is hoping to bring up another breakaway horse, because she misses it. “I have learned so much from my parents. All the horses that I and my family compete on my dad raised or we trained together. We are re
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