Behind the Scenes with McKenzie Morgan: The Rodeo Kid

Barrel Horse News is pleased to introduce a monthly column by McKenzie Morgan, one of the nation’s top youth barrel racers, as she chronicles the unique challenges and rewards of life on the road with her palomino partner In Firewaters Honor.

0618 McKenzieMorganbio  By McKenzie Morgan, originally published in the June 2018 issue of BHN

I’m going to start off talking about what life is like living on the road and trying to balance school along with barrel racing. Anyone who barrel races knows the time and effort it takes to try and make something of yourself in this crazy barrel racing world, and finding time for school can be very hard. Especially being a freshman in high school!0618 McKenzieMorgan webMcKenzie Morgan and In Firewaters Honor. The Morgan family raised “H2,” and McKenzie has been the 12-year-old gelding’s jockey for his entire career. The pair has won more than $138,500 together. Photo courtesy McKenzie Morgan.

Being homeschooled makes things a little easier and a lot more convenient for traveling up and down the road. I remember times when I went to school and everyone called me the ‘rodeo kid.’ Being a rodeo kid isn’t always all it’s cracked up to be. Some days I find myself doing school at the barn, because there are three more colts to ride or four more stalls to clean. On top of that, the horses have to be fed. But I wouldn’t trade this life for anything. Growing up in the barrel racing world and being that rodeo kid is something I will always be thankful for.

I also want to talk about dreams coming true. I remember being in third grade and writing down what my biggest goals were for life. One of the biggest ones was winning the National Barrel Horse Association Youth World Championship, and to have that dream finally come true after nine years of going to the Youth World Show is one of my biggest blessings. Being that little girl sitting in the stands watching all the older girls tuning on their horses during expos or watching that one horse and rider who always win the barrel race, I thought to myself, ‘I want to be that person, and I want to win all the barrel races.’ You can be that person, too. Dreams do come true, and self-confidence is the key. I have a picture saved from when I was 7 or 8 years old standing next to the Wall of Champions at the Youth World Show pointing to the “your name here” sign, thinking to myself that’d be so cool to win this deal, and six years later my very special palomino horse “H2” did that for me. It was the best day ever, and it really shows that as long as you’re willing to put the work in, the outcome is always way better than it sounded when you were talking about it. I will always be a firm believer that no matter what, dreams do come true.

0618 YFLeadingRiders Growing up with these wild dreams of trying to go pro or make it to the National Finals Rodeo can be very challenging at times. Everyone goes through slumps along the way, and for me the hardest one was when my main horse got sick. We seem to take the special ones for granted sometimes and forget how important they truly are to us. Sherry Cervi once said, “Those horses are like a pack of cigarettes. One day you’re going to run out of runs. You better enjoy it while it lasts.” Hearing Sherry’s expression seemed to help me while I was waiting on my main mount to get better. I think that’s something every barrel racer should hear. Always hug your four-legged babies a little extra at night, because you never know when your last day with them will come.

It takes a team to do what we do, and you always need to be thankful for each and every person who put time into making you better. See you next month for “Behind the Scenes with McKenzie Morgan.”

Tags: youth, from the magazine, NBHAYouth World,, mckenzie morgan, NBHA Youth World, Youth Forum, BHN, youth barrel racers, Youth riders, Youth horse, Youth Perspective, youth rodeo, Behind the Scenes with McKenzie Morgan, youth barrel racing