story by Lily Weinacht Wes Bray clinched his goal for his final season of high school rodeo, finishing in the top 20 in the nation […]
Association MemberJoin Rodeo News
Meet the Member Makayla Seely
story by Lily Weinacht
For Makayla Seely of Riverton, Wyoming, finishing sixth in the nation in barrel racing at the 2017 NHSFR was the highlight of her high school rodeo career. And while she was just two places out of qualifying for the NHSFR again last season, the 18 year old is taking her high school rodeo skills into her freshman year on the Casper College rodeo team. “This year I got a new horse, and she’s young, so it’s been a year of seasoning. I had an awesome year last year, and it was someone else’s turn to make it out to Nationals,” says Makayla.
She also competes in breakaway roping, but finds the rhythm and competition of barrel racing relaxing. “The competition is pretty tough, and it was kind of hard for a while learning how to lose and how to win, and now it’s just fun being able to go out and do it. I love to ride my horses and I spend a lot of time with them, and I love to see how they work and what I can do better on next time. I’m constantly thinking about it.” Her mom, Brenda Sims, is one of her greatest supporters, and the one who introduced Makayla to barrel racing. “My mom is constantly pushing me, and if I have a bad rodeo, she tells me it’s not always going to be like this. I truly believe God has a plan, and whatever His plan is, it’s going to work out like it’s meant to be. I also get help from my vet, Paul Zancanella, and his wife, Vicky, in Rock Springs. If something’s not going well, they get the horses in and figure it out. I also have a lot of really good friends like Sage Kohr and her mom, Lynn Kohr, out of Gillette. We constantly talk about horses and ways we can better ourselves. My sponsor is Hayden Outdoors (Cody and Chaisley Jacks), and they have helped me get down the road a ton.”
Makayla’s main barrel horse, whom she’s taking to college, is Give Em A Whoopin “Whoopie.” She found the 8-year-old mare in November of 2017 after Makayla’s best horse became crippled. She ran her grandmother’s horse, Sis, through the spring and summer, and qualified for the NHSFR on her, all the while trying out nearly two dozen barrel horses. “It’s hard on your confidence when you try out a lot of different horses—every one is different and it makes you feel like you’re not a good rider. I saw a video of Whoopie in November, and we met her and her owner at a barrel race in Big Piney, and as soon as I got on her, I instantly knew. I ran her that day and she ended up being in the 1D, and she’d never been in the 1D before.” Makayla used the fall and spring high school rodeos to season Whoopie on the rodeo trail, and they went through a rough patch of rodeos until the Fourth of July run. Just when Makayla was ready to draw out, her mom encouraged her to give it one more try, and after putting Whoopie in a hackamore to change things up, Makayla won the majority of barrel races they entered over the summer.
Before heading to Casper College, Makayla spent the summer working several jobs and traveling with friends to watch or compete in rodeos, including the Best of the Best Timed Event Rodeo in Gallup, New Mexico, Cheyenne Frontier Days, and the NHSFR. She also enjoys spending time with her siblings, Kenzley Sims (3) and Holden Sims (2). “School-wise, I just want to do good in school and have a good year. I’m studying elementary education. All my life I’ve wanted to be a Kindergarten teacher,” she finishes. “And with rodeo, I really would like to make it to the College Finals next summer.”