Every day, Nollie Launius makes strides toward his dream of becoming a professional roper. The 10-year-old cowboy from Nashville, Arkansas, is already a dual-event champion […]
Featured Athlete: Hazlee McKenzie
Written by: Ruth Nicolaus< Back to Articles
Hazlee McKenzie had a unique babysitter when she was a little girl. When her parents would go to a roping, they’d put her in a pen, on her pony Trigger. She’d ride Trigger for hours, and they didn’t have to worry about her. That’s how she fell in love with horses, and her love hasn’t abated since then.
The twelve-year-old cowgirl, a resident of Muldrow, Okla., is proud to be a part of the 5 Star Equine Products team.
Hazlee competes in the barrel racing, pole bending, ribbon roping (running for Creek Williams) and breakaway roping.
She uses three different horses for her events. Scooter, an eleven-year-old sorrel, is her barrel horse. A poor fit in the cutting horse industry, the family got him as a four-year-old, originally for Hazlee’s mom Tera to rope on. Scooter is hard-headed, Hazlee said, but he’s smart, really athletic, and loves to run barrels.
BB is her pole horse. The eight-year-old sorrel was trained by her dad, Jason, and can also be used for the barrels and roping. He’s very personable, Hazlee said. “He loves attention and he does anything you ask him to do.”
Her breakaway horse is a four-year-old named Junior. Junior is also good at the poles, but is used mostly for roping. He’s really calm and sweet, she said.
Hazlee is home schooled, with her favorite subject being math and history a close second. Reading is not her favorite; she’d rather be on horseback. That’s why homeschooling is good for her; she can get her work done and head outside.
She uses several 5 Star Equine Products. The saddle pads are her favorite, because they’re made out of wool and fit the horse well. They can be designed by the customer, and Hazlee has designed some of her own. “You can make them look the way you want them to look,” she said. She also appreciates the fact that saddle pads and horse boot colors can be matched. It’s important to her that her things match, with blue being the predominant color among her things. Her favorite saddle pad is white with a turquoise border, and the matching boots are navy with turquoise straps to match the pad. (Hazlee’s favorite color is teal.)
The saddle pads also come with her initials on the backside. There are plenty of color options with the saddle pads, which is important to a girl who likes fashion. “It’s definitely a benefit for girls who want to bling up their pads, for sure,” Hazlee said.
Jason and Tera, both ropers, have been using 5 Star Equine Products long before Hazlee became a member of their team. “We just really like the saddle pads,” Tera said, “because you can order them in different thicknesses, depending on the horse.” They come in different lengths, too, a little longer for roping saddles, a little shorter for barrel saddles.
The McKenzies believe in the value of 5 Star Equine products. “We’ve owned several (saddle pads),”said Hazlee, “and as long as you take care of them, they last a long time.” They also come with a liner that can be used in the spring to protect the saddle pad so shed hair doesn’t get embedded. The liners can be used for dog or cat beds when they’re no longer needed, but the family has found that they can be used several years.
When it comes to meals, Hazlee’s favorite is steak, corn on the cob, strawberries, and ice cream for dessert. She loves to drink Pepsis and eat Sweet Tarts.
The best trip she’s taken was to Cheyenne Frontier Days a few years ago, when the family went to a rodeo performance and walked through the exhibits afterwards. She also enjoyed her time in Las Vegas when her dad qualified for the World Series Team Roping in 2017. They took in a night at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo and some of the trade shows.
The McKenzie family has several pets. In addition to their horses, they have Cowgirl, a full-blood blue heeler, who is three-legged, and Reins, a Jack Russell-blue heeler mix. They have a barn cat, Lizzy, who is supposed to be a mouser, but prefers her free meals from Hazlee. They also raise cattle.
When she grows up, she’d like to be an interior designer and train and run barrel horses. She competes in the Oklahoma Junior High School Rodeo Association and the Cowboys Regional Rodeo Association (CRRA). Hazlee qualified for the National Junior High Finals Rodeo in the pole bending, finishing twenty-third in the nation this past summer. She competed at the CRRA Finals in Ft. Smith, Ark. last month in the barrel racing and won Rookie of the Year.
Her mom and dad enjoy how determined and hard working their daughter is. “She knows the effort she has to put in to achieve the goals she has set for herself,” Tera said. Hazlee loves to just be on a horse. “She likes to be on them,” her mom said. “She doesn’t have to be working barrels or poles or roping. She enjoys just getting out and riding across the pasture.”