story by Linsday Humphrey Making the decision to commit to rodeo as a high school sophomore has forever changed Rylan Wildeman’s life for the better. […]
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Meet the Member Shayla Dees
story by Lindsay Humphrey
Following in the footsteps of her brothers, Tyler, 30, and Brylen, 19, Shayla Dees became a roughstock rider. But it was actually her parents, Preston and Ruth, who got the family behind the chutes originally. “We’ve always had cattle at our house, and we got into rodeo when my mom became a stock contractor,” said the 17-year-old from Paola, Kansas. “She started taking bulls to the Homestead Rodeo School, which was founded by George Steinberger.” It was this rodeo school that got some of the Dees siblings into the toughest sport on dirt. Shayla was introduced to that popular phrase the hard way just three years ago.
“I got hung up when I was steer riding and he drug me around the whole arena because he was too fast for the bull fighters. He stepped on my stomach and my back which gave me a stage four out of five laceration.” Shayla was then life flighted to the nearest hospital in Kansas City. With her mom by her side, Shayla’s dad watched the helicopter leave with tears in his eyes. “I had never seen my dad cry, but he did that day. I was winning the CYRA steer riding when that happened. And after that I couldn’t rodeo for two months.” That accident effectively ended Shayla’s career as a roughstock rider. Shayla was neck and neck in the all-around race with her best friend, Lily Henderson, who ended up winning the year-end saddle. Lily gave the saddle to Shayla.
Even though Shayla was disappointed that her year spent behind the chutes was over, she wasn’t ready to quit rodeo completely. She now runs barrels, ropes calves and heads on occasion. The 2-second event is Shayla’s top pick. “It’s my favorite event because it’s not girly and roping a calf around the neck is probably the best feeling in the world. I loved watching the boys rope calves and I always wanted to do it too.” Roping since 2013, Shayla learned from family friend Cody Porter. “Instead of having a dummy to learn on, Cody took one of those bouncing bulls off the frame and set it in the dirt.”
Shayla, two of her brothers and her older sister, Marcella, 21, are first-generation rodeo competitors. “My parents were never into horses or roping, so they haven’t been able to teach me anything about that. I’ve had to learn a lot on my own or get help from other people.” Some of those other people include Barney Barnett, Dustin Jilek, and Justin Zook, just to name a few. Aside from the two brothers who ride bulls, none of their other siblings–Rachel, 34, Nina, 32, and Logan, 16–ever got into rodeo. “It’s usually just me and my mom on the road. The traveling can be hard sometimes, we can drive as far as six hours to get to a rodeo. But I do enjoy spending time with her. Being at rodeos is the biggest, best part of my life.”
In the summertime, Shayla is at a rodeo just about every single weekend. Her favorite to date is in Ottawa, Kansas. “It’s a one-day rodeo and always during the county fair. There’s a lot of people to fill up the stands and cheer you on. And they have slushies, which I get every year.” On the trailer, and also eager for slushies, are Steve and Rooster. “I bought Steve from my neighbor, and he was just broke to ride, so I taught him how to breakaway. He’s been the best horse I’ve ever owned.” Rooster is Shayla’s “freaky fast” barrel horse. There might be only one horse, or pony, that could give Rooster a run for his money. “Shorty was my first horse ever and she was just a pony. We won pole bending my sixth and seventh grade year at state finals. And that first year we were fifth in poles at nationals against 300+ other horses. And she was only half their size.”