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Meet the Member Reagan Shurden
story by Lindsay Humphrey
The race for Vegas is stiff, no matter the age or experience of the competitor. Just like the pros in the Thomas & Mac, Reagan Shurden fought tooth and nail to earn a place at the Junior World Finals in the senior barrels. She put forth so much effort that she goes into it as the highest point earner across both events and age divisions. “If you don’t place first or second at a qualifier, they take the top 10-point earners at the end of the season to Vegas,” said the 14-year-old from Winona, Mississippi. “We went to quite a few races this year to get my sister (Taylor, 15) and I qualified. It took me a bit longer than her, but this will be our sixth year competing.”
Other than barrel jackpots, KK qualifiers are Reagan’s focus all year long. “We were running at a barrel race that had a qualifier and we entered, because why not, and I ended up qualifying for Vegas. It was all an accident really, but a happy one.” After Reagan had her ticket for Vegas, it was a no brainer that Taylor needed to qualify as well. That’s how the sisters first started chasing KK events more than 6 years ago now. “It’s a great experience, we love running at KK events. It’s one of our favorite things. We love to travel and go different places to see new things and meet new people.”
And travel they have. Most of their adventures are pointed west. The furthest Reagan’s ever gone that direction is Nevada or Utah, but she likes competing down south. “My favorite place so far is Texas. I love the facilities out there and the weather.” Ever since that first trip to Vegas, Reagan, Taylor and their parents – Jim and Sheri – have also gone to the NFR at least one night. They’re, of course, looking forward to that again this year. Reagan has also set a few goals for her own time in the arena. “The best I’ve done was in 2020 when I finished third in the first round. I hit a barrel in the second round and lost my chance at making the finals.” She’s optimistic that this will be her year for an appearance in the finals and that she’ll take home some money as well.
Along for the ride to Vegas will be 7-year-old JM Coronas Fame (Buckles). The Dash Ta Fame and Corona Cartel buckskin is what Reagan describes as a “big ol’ hot head,” but the stout mare has a few surprises. “She can be really stubborn but she’s a good horse. She knows her job, so she doesn’t like to be worked on the pattern a whole lot. She can be feisty in the holding pen, but when we get to the alley, she is calm as can be.” Reagan got Buckles almost 2 years ago now. She was a lot to handle at first, but Reagan’s figured out what Buckles needs to run her very best.
Figuring it out on the fly seems to be Reagan’s specialty. “My parents had nothing to do with horses until my sister wanted to take riding lessons. I was just along for the ride at first. We started out in 4-H and discovered barrel racing there. We liked the speed and thrill of barrels, and it took off from there.” Diving deep into a new sport isn’t anything new for parents these days, but it’s certainly extra challenging when a 1,300-pound animal is involved. “My parents have been my biggest supporters. They’ve helped me get where I am today. My dad takes me everywhere and my mom supports me no matter if I’m frustrated or on a high, she’s with me every step of the way.” Quay and Ashley Ease have been instrumental in keeping the girls confident on their horses when they get stuck. It’s been a group effort getting Reagan and Taylor to Vegas for the last 6 years, but all would agree that it’s been worth the work.