story by Lily Landreth Jaytyn Hash took home his first NLBRA world title at the 2019 NLBFR last summer in the team roping, a victory […]
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NLBRA Sr. Rookies of the Year
story by Siri Stevens
Kaitlin McWhorter, from Cobden, Il., travels more than five hours to compete in the National Little Britches rodeos in Arkansas. “The people in Arkansas have become our family,” said the 16-year-old who won the Senior Girls Rookie of the Year for NLBRA. Three years ago, Kaitlin started competing in Missouri and decided to step up the competition and the family made the commitment to travel further to compete in the NLBRA. “I had to improve in all the events I compete in, barrel racing, goat tying, breakaway, and poles. The timed trail course was completely new to me when I got there the first time. I watched the other girls and tried it. It is one of my favorite events now.” She added ribbon roping half way through the year. “That was scary – I got close-lined really bad – but I like it!”
It was Kaitlin’s first year in the association and she competed against girls that had moved from the junior division to the senior division. “I’ve never done high school or junior high rodeo before, so it was hard! We had old trail horses and made it work.” She bought a good barrel horse a few years ago and is working to improve that as well. “I still don’t have calves to practice on and where we live it is hard to practice. My dad decided to help me learn how to get off the horse for goat tying by getting off a golf cart onto the gravel.”
Kaitlin’s mom Kim and her dad, Garon Adams, are very supportive of Kaitlin’s dreams. “We drive 286 miles one direction to get to the rodeos,” said Kim. “Garon stays home – but will go with us to the finals in Arkansas and to Nationals. He gets us loaded and makes sure we have everything we need for the road. We leave Friday and don’t get back until Sunday night.”
Kaitlin grew up playing sports in school and she knows the discipline it takes to get better at anything. “I was six when I started rodeo and I really like the speed events.” Her goals for the future are to college rodeo at Murray State University, under the direction of JD Van Hooser. She would still like to attend clinics to improve her skills. Lynn Smith has helped Kaitlin with her goat tying through her clinics. “I want to study ag business and have a flexible schedule and rodeo. I don’t want to be one of those people that have a job, I want a career.”
story by Lily Weinacht
Arkansas cowboy Myles Neighbors steer wrestled, tied-down, and team roped his way to earning the 2014 NLBRA Senior Boy Rookie of the Year. The 16 year old from Benton, Ark., also qualified for the Top Hand Team. He and his parents, Howard and Sheila Neighbors, flew to Las Vegas, Nev., where Myles was elated to meet several of his rodeo idols during the Montana Silversmiths buckle ceremony. “I also really liked the Cowboy Christmas – that was awesome – and going to the rodeo was really cool. They never did once slow down that rodeo; even when they raked for the barrels it was 90 miles an hour.”
Myles is now preparing for his second season with the NLBRA, wearing his good- looking Rookie of the Year buckle with pride. He first heard about Little Britches from his friends, and started competing in the association when his friend Preston Brock asked Myles to team rope with him at Little Britches rodeos. Myles now team ropes as a header, tie-down ropes, and steer wrestles – the same three events his dad competed in. Myles’ grandpa, James Neighbors, began the tradition of rodeo in the Neighbors family, competing, serving as president of the IPRA, and working as a stock contractor for the IPRA and other associations. Myles recalls, “One day, I told my dad I wanted to be a cowboy. He said, ‘Okay,’ and here I am today! It’s something I’ve dreamed of doing since I was a little kid. Everybody has their cup of tea, and rodeo is mine.”
Howard Neighbors is Myles’ greatest role model, and he also looks up to horse trainer Weldon Moore from Clarksville, Ark., who is a longtime friend of the Neighbors, and who has helped Myles in many areas of rodeo. “It’s a huge deal for him to help me – he’s one of the best horse trainers in America,” says Myles. Another influential man is Keith Everett, another family friend, who invites the Neighbors to ride and rope at his arena any time. “He has a really nice place, and lets us keep our roping stock there, or use his,” says Myles. Howard Neighbors has also started putting on an annual Southeastern Youth Timed Event at Everett’s arena each August, with added money, while the first 20 to call are entered.
Myles is homeschooled, and enjoys the flexible schedule that allows him to rodeo with the NLBRA, AHSRA, ARA, CRRA, SJRA, and USTRC. He particularly enjoys chemistry, and is also a member of 4-H. Myles is an avid hunter and fisherman, but he spends the bulk of his time with his horses. His tie-down horse is Doc, a bay gelding that Myles trained himself for the event, and Timmy is a roan that Myles bought the same day as Doc seven years ago. “We’re the same age, and he’s really done a lot for me.” Finally, Cadillac is Myles’ heel and tie-down horse. “Those horses have all helped me go places, and every one of them is special to me.”
Myles concludes, “While I’m in high school, I’d like to win the NHSFR and NLBFR a couple of times, then go to the CNFR and win that as many times as I can. Then someday, I hope to go to the NFR and win a couple of world titles there.