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 […]
Featured Athlete: Jennifer Sharp
Written by: Ruth Nicolaus< Back to Articles
ennifer Sharp competed at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo last month. It was the first qualification for the 5 Star Equine team member, who lives in Richards, Texas. She and her husband Robbie own and operate Sharp Performance Horses, riding colts for the public and training barrel and performance horses.
Last year, her horse Six French Smooches “Smooch”, an eight-year-old mare, took to the training and rodeo world well, “so we kept going,” Jennifer said. “We hadn’t planned on rodeoing for the Finals this year, but we realized we might have a shot at it.”
So she and Smooch, plus a second horse, KR Famous Tequila “Tequila” hit the road, competing at more than ninety rodeos, and qualifying for the Wrangler NFR for the first time.
In November, two weeks before the Finals started, Jennifer got kicked in the right shin, fracturing the fibula head and tearing the PCL. Doctors told her she’d need twelve weeks of rest, but that wasn’t an option with the world championship of rodeo around the corner. So she did physical therapy twice a day, to get her quad muscle working.
She wore a hard brace, and at the Finals, visited the Justin Sportsmedicine trainers two and a half hours prior to each night’s rodeo. They taped it and used a TENS unit (a transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation device) to alleviate pain and get the muscles to fire.
She wasn’t able to ride Smooch at the Finals, as the mare suffered an injury during the Texarkana, Ark. rodeo in September. So Jennifer took Tequila to Las Vegas, along with a second horse, Mitos Cutter, “Commander.” Tequila ran in all of the rounds except for round eight, when Commander took over to give Tequila a break.
Tequila does very well in smaller pens, Jennifer said, and is good when he knows the first barrel isn’t near the fence. “He’s definitely going to turn his barrels,” she said. The first barrel is blind at the Thomas and Mack arena, and Tequila “knew that first barrel was there and he was going to it,” she said. Unable to use her right leg fully to guide him, she “wasn’t able to be as aggressive as I needed to be,” causing several tipped barrels.
As a 5 Star Equine team member, Jennifer loves using their saddle pads. “I use the three-quarters inch thickness, and I love those pads. They hold up, I have no issues with them, and my horses’ backs never get sore.” She also uses 5 Star’s sports boots. “I love that they don’t get any dirt inside of them, their legs look clean when they come off, everything about them.” The color choices are good, too. “And obviously I love the color selection.” She tries to coordinate boot colors with whatever she’s wearing.
In Las Vegas, her husband and a friend, Chris Bradshaw, took care of her horses. “They brought horses to me every night, and took them back (to the place where they were staying.) They fed and watered. I didn’t get to see my horses much, which I did not like, but I knew they were taken care of.”
The couple has been together for ten years and spends their working and relaxing time together. “We’re together twenty-four, seven,” Jennifer said. “We have an awesome relationship. We complement each other in aspects that we need.” With the business, Robbie, a team roper, starts colts, puts them on the barrels, then Jennifer finishes them. If they need a tune-up, Robbie works with them.
Now that the Wrangler NFR is over, Jennifer will let her leg heal. Smooch will make a full recovery, and then the two of them will hit the rodeo road again. “I hope to be back at the NFR, without a broken leg,” she said.
Jennifer placed in two rounds, both times aboard Tequila. She finished the rodeo season in fourteenth place in the world.