Growing up with a rope in hand sets the life for a champion cowboy.
“I’ve been competing in rodeos nearly all of my life and rope every day to continue getting better.”
Experience has paid dividends for Shane Jenkins of Amoret, Missouri.
Just a few miles from both Kansas and Oklahoma, the 18-year-old is in prime location to be a team roper.
“Team roping is my main event, usually heading but I’ve been heeling the past few months, too,” Jenkins said. “There are a lot of arenas and jackpots around here to practice and compete in team roping competitions.”
Roping is bred into the young cowboy. “My dad Brad Abernathy is a top team roper and my mom Kandy is a winning breakaway roper,” Jenkins credited. “They’ve been great coaches and inspiration to be the best in the sport of team roping.”
To be a successful team roper also requires a partner who will take care of their responsibility. “I practice with several top cowboys, and we generally get a time when it’s a competition,” Jenkins said.
“My dad has also been an important part of me having capable partners,” the cowboy continued. “Dad is well known for his winning roping ability, so his top heelers often come ask to partner with me.”
Roping in junior events, Jenkins collected titles in the Junior High School Rodeo Association and Little Britches events. “I also made the International Finals Youth Rodeo three times and was eighth in the world one year,” he added.
Entering United States Team Roping Championships (USTRC) and United Rodeo Association (URA) events, Jenkins is a consistent money winner. “I’ve roped at the USTRC Finals and was honored as the URA Rookie of the Year in 2019,” Jenkins noted.
“I rope wherever there’s competition, but I actually prefer going to the jackpots. They pay more money,” the champion declared.
Upon completing high school with a degree from the Manhattan Virtual Academy, Jenkins was eager to further his education. Of course, the top roper looked at colleges which offered rodeo scholarships.
“Northeastern Oklahoma A&M (NE0) at Miami, Oklahoma, had a recruiting rodeo where I won the team roping,” Jenkins said. “They offered me a scholarship so I’m enrolled in the marketing management curriculum with plans to complete a business degree.”
Like in many rodeo associations, the coronavirus put a crimp in his kickoff college rodeo career. “All of the National Intercollege Rodeo Association (NIRA) rodeos were postponed. None were canceled just put off until spring. My first college rodeo is February 19,” Jenkins said.
Likewise, health concerns have changed the format in which the cowboy is receiving his college education. “I’m two hours from the NEO campus so I’m blessed they worked with me to take all of my classes online. It’s completely a virtual program for my first semester,” he said.
Especially appreciative of his rodeo scholarship to keep college expenses down, Jenkins is also being sponsored by Better Equine Inc.
“Bill, Jana and Billy Barcus of Paola have been longtime family friends. We’ve competed together at rodeos for many years,” he noted. “They are distributors for Total Equine horse feed and also manufacture BE Saddle Pads, which are both great products. I’m really fortunate for their sponsorship too.”
Kolby Ungeheuer coaches the NEO Rodeo Team which has indoor and outdoor practice facilities.
“I go to Miami to practice about every week. It’s good to rope with my team mates and Coach Ungeheuer is a big help too,” Jenkins credited. “I’m really looking forward to getting on the road going to college rodeos next spring. I hope to qualify for the NIRA Finals.”
Horsepower is essential to be a team roping champion and Jenkins appreciates the caliber of horses he rides.
“I actually sold a couple of rope horses, and was without a horse early this year,” he related. “Then I found a seven-year-old sorrel mare called Yodi and seasoned her on the road. She’s really turned out to be a great head horse.”
For heeling, Jenkins calls upon an 18-year-old sorrel gelding called Genie. “He’s an excellent heel horse, and even more special to me, because my grandpa raised him,” Jenkins said.
Concentrate and dominate have been Jenkins rodeo philosophy. “A lot of cowboys want to compete in several events, but I’m strictly a team roper,” he said. “It’s difficult to excel at more than one event. I’m specialized and keep working to improve my team roping. I intend to be the best team roper.”
As if he isn’t busy enough going to team roping events and fulltime college, Jenkins has additional professions. “I am training several horses and I work one day a week at Mo-Kan Livestock in Butler, Missouri,” he said.
Looking to complete his NEO education requirements in two years, Jenkins plans on pursuing his lifetime profession at that time.
“I could attend a four-year college to rodeo, but I’ll be ready to start my career after NEO,” Jenkins said. “There are a lot of different directions I can go but right now I think I’ll become a financial advisor.”
Office job won’t keep the cowboy off his horse. “My job will fit well with continuing to rope. I may try to go to more circuit rodeos, even some professional rodeos. But, I’ll sure get to a lot of jackpots,” Jenkins promised.