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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World Champion Keylee Izard
story by Lily Landreth
“My main plan was to win the barrels, so I was kind of shocked and really excited when I found out I won the poles,” recalls Keylee Izard. “That was one of my favorite parts of Nationals. Fast, smooth runs happened and I was proud of them.” The 10-year-old from Sulphur, Louisiana, is the 2019 Little Wrangler World Pole Bending Champion, while in 2018, she placed third in the world in barrel racing and won the average on her horse Goose. Winning the pole bending came as a surprise to Keylee, who qualified for the NLBFR on her older pole horse Little Red, then switched to a different horse, Roxy, just a month before Finals. The pair had been riding together for some time but only started competing at rodeos in poles in May, with hopes of making faster runs. “I like poles mainly because of how smooth my horse is,” Keylee explains. “She knows how to do it, and if I don’t overwork her, we can make a smooth, fast run.”
Keylee also made it to the short-go at Finals in barrel racing, and competed in goat tail untying and flag racing. This season she’s moving into the junior girls division and competing in barrel racing, pole bending, goat tying, trail course, and breakaway roping. She’s also working on her roping at home and hopes to try ribbon roping in the future. Her mom, Kelly Izard, competed in the NLBRA, and Keylee’s dad, Dusty Izard, trains calf horses. Her grandfather Edward Lee Kinney owned a stock contracting company, Kinney Brother Rodeo Company—later named E.L.K. Rodeo Company—and started the rodeo tradition in their family. Keylee competes in the Cajun and Louisiana Little Britches franchises, where she won barrel saddles and an all-around saddle in 2019. She also enters LRCA and open rodeos, jackpots, and a series in the Texas Louisiana Barrel Racing Association. Entering a Junior American qualifier is also on her list of things to accomplish this season now that she has Roxy.
“My dad broke Roxy and my mom trained her. She’s just two months younger than me, and I think we really match,” says Keylee. “We bought the mare when Keylee was a baby with hopes of her being Keylee’s barrel horse someday, but we never thought it would be this soon, or as a pole horse,” adds Kelly. “A month before (NLBRA) Nationals, Keylee started taking her to jackpots and they just clicked, so we were pretty amazed and excited.” Keylee also loves to rope on her pony, Dot. “My mom and dad help me practice, and sometimes my little sister, Kenna (8), comes and rides with us.” Her family or friends videos her runs, and then Keylee and her family watch them on their TV to critique them. She also looks up to professional barrel racer Hailey Kinsel. “I dressed as her at Halloween, and I’ve met her. Whenever she runs, she’s aggressive, and she’s a Christian and really sweet and kind.”
A fourth-grade student at Vincent Settlement Elementary, Keylee also loves to do math and plans to play on the basketball team next year. She’s a part of Student Council, Kids of the Kingdom, and 4-H. “This is my first year in 4-H and I’m learning about how to help the environment, and I’d like to be in the horse club,” says Keylee. She also enjoys being part of her church’s youth group.
“I want to try and accomplish making it to the Junior American,” she finishes. “Making it to (NLBRA) Nationals in all my events would really make me happy, and one day when I’m old enough, the NFR.”