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World Champion Jaden Thomas
story by Siri Stevens
Jaden Thomas came away as the 2019 Senior Barrel Racing World Champion at the NLBFR. Leading up to that win, Jaden won second in the first round, won the second round in the barrels. She added another saddle to her collection of more than 26 trophy saddles and over 200 buckles. The second generation cowgirl is taking after her mother, Shanna, who competed in everything. Jaden’s dad, Brandon, a chemical engineer at Ingevity, did not have a background in rodeo, but jumped right into the lifestyle, learning all he could about being a great rodeo dad. “He’s always making exercise plans for me and my horses and telling me how to perform better. He is our chauffer most of the time – on long trips,” said Jaden. The short trips are mom and daughter. Brandon’s side job is to develop Equine Catalyst, a joint supplement for horses to keep Jaden’s horses in rodeo-ready shape.
Jaden has competed in the Little Britches Association since she was 6-years-old, when she won her very first saddle. She won her first buckle when she was three. Her 10 year old brother, Lane, also competes in NLBRA, and made the finals this year in the Little Wranglers. He competes in barrels, poles, goats, and flags. “We practice together – and depending on our moods it can be friendly or not.”
This past year the family started competing in the Texas High School Region 5. Jaden made it to Nationals her first year in that association as a freshman, an accomplishment that she is very proud of. “I was able to take Reserve Champion pole bender and Rookie of the year,” said the 15 year old who is a sophomore at Rosepine high school, the same school her mom teaches at. Jaden, an honor student, looks forward to math classes and chemistry the most.
Jaden has been riding a 17-year old Quarter Horse for 10 years, running him in barrels and poles, and trained him to run poles herself. “Vegas learned poles by a lot of repetition with me and my mom working together. My fastest time in poles has been a 19.2; he is a great horse, and very comical. He likes to stick his tongue out for no reason at all.” Her goat tying horse, Bob, is really laid back, but whenever he knows it’s time to go, he gets very excited. Bob was bought as a cutting horse, and Jaden trained him. “Vegas was a cutting horse before we bought him and even though we don’t cut, he was very easy to train.” They recently bought another one that will hopefully replace Vegas at some point after she’s trained.
Although her mom has helped teach her most of the rodeo events, she appreciates Stacy Martin’s help with her goat tying skills. Besides her LJHSRA and THSRA and NLBFR rodeo success, Jaden is also proud of winning the pole bending champion title for the second year in a row at the Martha Josey Reunion in Texas. The week after that, she won a saddle at Junior World in barrels – on the same horse she won the pole bending on. “Before I make a run, I try to picture the perfect run in my mind.” With the dedication to practice rodeo, she doesn’t have much time for other hobbies or sports but did enjoy playing basketball before starting 6th grade. Besides practice, she is also responsible for cleaning stalls in the barn, and helping take care of the family’s five dogs; four Corgis and Jaden’s constant companion, Koda the Dachshund. “We got a brother and sister to another Corgi and they are a lot of fun.”
Jaden is glad to have her grandparents, Beth and Frank Thomas living just across the pasture from her and appreciates their support; they’ve traveled with her to every one of her national finals she’s been to. Jaden would love to take a trip to watch the national college finals rodeo, or the WNFR, but her biggest dream would be to compete there alongside her favorite barrel racer, Lisa Lockhart. Jaden appreciates Equine Catalyst and FlowBoot supporting her in her rodeo endeavors.
Jaden wants to be an orthodontist or dermatologist when she grows up. She lives by the saying: If God is within her she will not fail. “I’m always motivated to do things, I don’t sit around – I know what has to be done and I get it done.”