LARAMIE — Rock Springs High School graduate Makenzi Scott, 20, is continuing her barrel racing career as part of the rodeo team at the University of Wyoming.
This past season Makenzi posted times of 14.86 seconds at Hansen Arena in Laramie in the long round (all competitors participating) for first place, and then 14.88 in the short go (top 10 participants), good for third place.
Competing in Gillette in a different-sized arena, Makenzi posted a long round, first-place time of 15.36 seconds, then followed that up with a 15.47 seconds posting, good for third place in the short go.
At a still larger arena in Riverton,competing at an outdoor rodeo pen, Makenzi posted a time of 17.6 seconds, good for fifth place. Another UW rodeo cowgirl, Emme Northsworthy, finished first at Riverton, posting a time of 17.1 seconds.
In barrel racing, the difference between, say, first place and 10th place, could be no more than a few tenths of a second or even a few hundredths of a second.
Makenzi posted her times on her 13-year-old mare, Cats Raspberry Beret, or simply “Cats” or “Ras” for short. Makenzi has previously explained that her horse’s name is based on her horse’s bloodlines.
“It’s definitely a partnership between horse and rider,” Makenzi said.
The University of Wyoming rodeo team competes in a “region”, Makenzi explained. The National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association (NIRA) divides the United State up into 11 different regions for competition purposes. The UW rodeo team is part of the Central Rocky Mountain Region, which comprises, in addition to the Cowboys/Cowgirls, Chadron State University, Central Wyoming College, Sheridan College, Laramie County Community College, Gillette College, Eastern Wyoming College, Colorado State University, Lamar Community College, and Casper College. There are a total of 10 competitions in the regional setup, five in the fall and five in the spring, with a break for the holidays and winter.
The UW rodeo team has 55 members. As of May 1 according to the NIRA standings, the Cowboys were in first place, points-wise, in the region, and the Cowgirls were in second place in the region. The UW rodeo practices and competes at Hansen Arena in Laramie. The UW rodeo coach is Beau Clark, a former steer wrestler who participated in the 2012 National Finals Rodeo.
In the individual all-around NIRA barrel racing standings, Makenzi was in fifth place in the region, with 419 points. Teammate Sage Anne-Marie Kohr was in first place in the barrel racing standings, with 617 points.
Makenzi was a standout pole bender in high school, at one time finishing with a sub-20-second timing at the Sweetwater Events Complex Indoor Arena, the third fastest timing in the nation.
However, pole bending unfortunately is not a collegiate rodeo event.
“Pole bending is a little more challenging,” Makenzi said. ”They have pole bending at the high school level in order to give girls a second rodeo event in addition to barrel racing.”
Breakaway roping has become the second women’s rodeo event at the college level, instead. “Breakaway roping is a quick event. I never got into it,” Makenzi said. In order to be a successful breakaway roper, a participant has to be able to correctly rope a runaway steer in three seconds, or, preferably, less.
There is perhaps a third rodeo event for collegiate cowgirls. “Girls can do team roping, but there’s not many doing it at the pro level,” Makenzi said.
As for college rodeo, it is a huge contrast from high school rodeo. “It’s being on a team vs. being on a club. In high school I was kinda on my own, and I had to find my own trainer.” Makenzi competed in high school as part of the Sweetwater County Rodeo Club.
At the University of Wyoming, Makenzi is majoring in Finance, following in the footsteps of her dad, local Financial Advisor Ryan Scott.
Credit The Horse
“You have to bring your own horse,” Makenzi said.
The university does not provide horses for rodeo participants. With “Ras,” Makenzi said she enjoys trail riding to keep her horse in shape for competition.
“I ride four or five times a week when I need to get my horse in shape, and once or twice a week when my horse is in shape.”
Makenzi also spends time riding and training with the McCanns, Kent and Stephanie, especially during the summer, along with another local training partner, Shelly McAdams.
“She’s really enjoying it,” Makenzi said. Ras is a quarterhorse, and a cutter horse bred.
However, Makenzi added, “I’ve never competed in (cutting).”
Success will hopefully breed success. At 13 years old, Makenzi said that she isn’t sure how many more years Ras will be able to compete in rodeo. Although Makenzi has no plans to retire Ras any time soon, she is looking to the future. Makenzi said she is working with another horse, “Tess”, which she bought from McAdams. Tess is a cousin of Ras.
“I’ll be taking Tess to run at some barrel races as well as bringing her to rodeos where I plan to run Ras,” Makenzi said. “Just to get Tess used to the atmosphere of a rodeo, which is very different from a barrel race.”
Makenzi added that she plans to enter some amateur rodeos this summer. Beyond that, she has further plans for Ras.
“I’m also breeding Ras and doing an embryo transfer on her this month which I’m really excited about,” she said.
Makenzi said she has been riding horses so long now that she can’t even remember the first time she got on one and rode it.
“I started riding probably about the time I could start walking or talking. My dad probably lifted me into a saddle and got me going.”
While some of the other rodeo riders that were competing along with Makenzi when she was younger have either dropped out of the sport or else moved, Makenzi has stayed with it, to the point where she is one of the most talented barrel racers in Sweetwater County, and now, the entire state of Wyoming.
Expect that success to continue and grow at the University of Wyoming.