Being a champion cowgirl requires a unique dedicated combination.
For Baylee Barker that includes several outstanding horses with daily exercise regimen, relentless precision practice and heartfelt desire.
It has paid off as the 14-year-old Atlanta, Kansas, cowgirl is the reserve world champion in breakaway roping.
“I am fortunate to have four great horses to ride in different events and I work them daily,” the all-around cowgirl said.
Her team features Dawn, breakaway: Grey, goat tying: Hooey, team roping: and Yogi, barrel racing and pole bending.
“I practice my roping every day,” Baylee said. “I rope both the calf head and the steer head dummies because each event requires different loops. Not that many loops, actually, just so every loop I throw is perfect.”
Practice roping the real thing is most important of all. “Depending on what rodeos I have lined up, I rope live cattle at least three times a week,” Baylee said.
Daughter of Zach and Jane Barker, Baylee has been home schooled since her sixth grade year. “I will continue home schooling during high school which I’ll start this fall as a freshman,” she said.
“I am very serious about my education, but being home schooled does sometimes give me rodeo opportunities,” she admitted. “When I get caught up on my studies I can take a break working with my horses or practicing myself.”
Perfection with her lariat rope is only part of Baylee’s workout. “I enter goat tying too, so that requires additional practice, dismounting, throwing the goat and making the tie,” she said.
While youthful rodeo achievements have been many, her latest accolade came at the 2021 National Junior High Finals Rodeo. “It was in Des Moines, Iowa, during June, and I was pleased with my runs,” Baylee nodded.
The cowgirl’s short-go calf was flagged in 3.28-seconds claiming the world reserve championship. That’s speedy wherever the roping’s being conducted, but Baylee can be even faster when there’s an entry fee on the line.
“I did rope calves in just over 2-seconds at some jackpots during the finals,” she noted.
Roping creates most adrenalin for Baylee, but she’s in several other events at most of the rodeos. “I enter breakaway, team roping and ribbon roping as well as goat tying, barrel racing and pole bending,” the cowgirl said.
A winner in every event at some time or another, Baylee rides in more than the Junior High Rodeo Association. “I compete in the Kansas Junior Rodeo Association and the Forever Seven Association,” she said. “I will be going to the Kansas High School Rodeo Association events starting this fall.”
While some likely aren’t familiar with the Forever Seven Rodeo Association, it is close to Baylee’s heart. “They are family run rodeos in memory of their son who passed away when he was just seven-years-old,” Baylee explained. “Those rodeos are really special to be competing at.”
No tally on her championship buckles, but the cowgirl already has a collection of almost a handful of trophy saddles.
Again, the humble all-around cowgirl was emphatic crediting others for her success. “I couldn‘t do this without my parents’ coaching and strong support,” she acknowledged. “Of course, my outstanding horses are such an essential part of every event.”
Riding both mares and geldings, the cowgirl’s mounts are middle-aged generally with some seasoning. “However, I have a couple of horses that didn’t have much arena experience when I got them. They’ve turned out to be great rodeo mounts,” Baylee credited.
Being a rodeo cowgirl isn’t a fulltime job for Baylee. “I like to sing and I have a guitar that I’m learning to play,” she said.
Rodeo is in the cowgirl’s future with mindset for an accompanying professional service career. “I want to rodeo during college hopefully get a scholarship to be on a top southern team,” Baylee said. “But I won’t let rodeo take away from my studies in medical school.”
She wants to specialize in working with newborn infants who need assistance in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU).
Dedication to goal makes a champion in the arena and life proven by Baylee Barker.