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Meet the Member McKenzie Watkins
story by Lindsay King
McKenzie Watkins left the NMHSRA finals with not one, but two state championship buckles. One in the breakaway and the other in trap shooting. “I have enjoyed breakaway since I was little. My dad (Mike) helped me learn it when I was itty bitty. I have loved it my entire life,” said the 18-year-old. This Bloomfield, New Mexico, native couldn’t be happier the sport is rapidly growing. This isn’t McKenzie’s first trip to nationals though. She is now the three-time state champion trap shooter and was the state champion breakaway roper and reserve champion goat tier in the eighth grade.
“I went into state this year sitting second, so I told myself I just had to rope my calves no matter what. I tied my goats well, but I had some bad draws and then some bad runs on top of that.” Last fall McKenzie had a tough go in the goat tying. “My head horse did not want to cooperate with me in the goat tying. He kept cutting out from under me.” This led McKenzie to switch to her smaller, younger goat horse who was a bit of gamble as the spring season got started. “She really moved me up in the standings. I was sitting 12th when I started riding her and she helped me finish eighth at the end of state finals.” In addition to those three events, McKenzie is also a team roper.
Heading into nationals, McKenzie was excited about the stiff competition and ready to make new friends. “I think it is so fun to meet people from new states. The last time I was at nationals I had an absolute blast getting to know so many new friends.” Being in the NMHSRA allowed McKenzie to make friends within her state. “This association is tough, I will say that. It has helped me set my goals high and work hard until I achieved them.”
One of those goals has been with McKenzie since she was riding a horse as a toddler. “It has always been my dream to get a rodeo scholarship to college.” She is doing just that with a full ride to New Mexico Junior College in Hobbs for a degree in business. McKenzie graduated from Dora High School this spring. “After I graduate college, I want to become an equine dentist so I can work on horses’ teeth for a living. It is all pretty cool, so I am really excited about it.”
McKenzie takes a page from Trevor Brazile’s book and gives the glory to God. “If it wasn’t for Him, I would not be able to rodeo. My parents (Mike and Janeen) wouldn’t be able to take me down the road and I wouldn’t have the horses that I do to compete on.” She’s actually met Trevor twice now and likes him more with every visit. “He does not rodeo for anybody, not even himself, it is all for God. He is the sweetest guy ever and so down to earth.” He is easily McKenzie’s favorite cowboy of all time and someone she has looked up to since she was little.
First gifted with a love for rodeo, McKenzie’s dad also taught her to be a sharp shooter. “My dad hunts and I also love to hunt. He was a trap shooter for a long time and thought I might like it too. I have just always enjoyed it.” From pushing calves out of chutes to leading McKenzie through the gate, her parents are there every step of the way. “I would not be where I am today without them. They have supported and pushed me to the point where I wanted to quit, but I am so thankful they did.”