By Lindsay Whelchel For 11-year-old Tucker Kelsey of Henryetta, Okla., competing in the Northeast Junior Rodeo Association is a path he was probably always destined […]
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NJRA Meet the Member: Mercadez MillsMeet the Member
story by Ruth Nicolaus
Mercadez Mills is spunky. The nine-year-old cowgirl from northeastern Oklahoma loves to go fast on her horses and channels her energetic nature into her dreams of rodeo success. She competes in three events, barrels, poles and flags in multiple rodeo associations. And though Mercadez has won money in the previous season for the Northeast Junior Rodeo Association of Oklahoma, this year is her first year to compete as an official member.
Mercadez explains that her mom, Charissa, who also grew up barrel racing, is the one who got her interested in horses and rodeo. Her dad, Teddy, is a team roper and had her on his lap gathering cattle as an infant. Mercadez has had her own horses since she was two-years-old and currently has three of them, two quarter horses and a paint horse. Their names are Sheza, Chester and Spot. Her latest horse is a step-up horse her mother used to run barrels on. Now, this outgoing third-grader is running 16 second times on the barrel pattern. For Mercadez, a ride in the pasture is as fun as in the arena, but it’s in the arena where she shines.
Her accomplishments are illustrated by a long list of prizes that includes a saddle, a trophy, 20 buckles and a crown for a Sweetheart of the Rodeo title from the Heritage Day rodeo in Kellyville, Okla.
Mercadez has dreams of growing up to be a professional barrel racer one day and looks up to her older sister Hope, who is 18 and also runs barrels.
When asked about the advice she’s gotten, Mercadez laughs and explains that her sister’s to the point advice is what she remembers most, “she tells me to whoop and ride,” Mercadez giggles.
Her mom explains that for Mercadez, opportunities to compete in associations like the NJRA are important because of the multiple events Mercadez can participate in to better her skills. In the NJRA she gets to barrel race, but not only that, she can do the poles and flags in a rodeo setting. Mercadez even tried her hand at roping last year.
Mercadez is used to a big family beyond her sister and mother.
Her stepfather is named Ron and she has an older brother BJ, as well as foster siblings and an infant niece who lives with her at her home in Silver City, Okla.
In addition to her human family, Mercadez shares her home with an array of animals, from a total of 17 horses, to chickens, cows, goats, pigs and the blue heeler dogs her mother raises on their 40-acre ranch.
Like any kid, Mercadez hates chores, like keeping her room clean, but she loves allowance and on that day, is full of offers to pitch in to help clean.
When Mercadez isn’t on a horse, she’s on the softball field, playing for her team, the Pink Pistols. The sport of softball is her other great love and hobby.
This summer she plans to go to “a lot” of rodeos. She is excited about swimming and seeing her friends. Oh yeah, and winning more buckles.