• Mika Shackelford makes her way around a barrel during a rodeo competition.

Jacksboro girl qualifies for National Finals Rodeo

Mika Shackelford always promised her mother she was going to take her to Las Vegas someday. That day will arrive shortly.

Shackelford, an incoming freshman at Jacksboro High, has qualified for something many rodeo competitors dream of but never realize: the junior National Finals Rodeo December 8-10. She has been a barrel racer since the age of seven and says her mother Georgia Cryer, a former barrel racer herself, got her involved.

Shackelford admitted wanting to do it and Cryer says she has been “a natural” since the day she started. Shackelford competes all around the area and says the speed of barrel racing gives her a natural high.

“I have the need for speed,” Shackelford said.

She qualified for the junior NFR on May 23 by finishing 2nd out of 120 competitors at an event in Bryan. She was “excited” but it was kind of hard to tell, according to Cryer.

“I was calling everyone saying ‘we’re going to Vegas,’” Cryer remembered. “She never gets nervous or shows emotion. Me, I get nervous. She gets that from her dad.”

The Junior NFR will be held at the Las Vegas Convention Center. Cryer says there will be semifinals on Dec. 8-9 and then the Fnals on Dec. 10.

“She has a good little fan club,” Cryer says of her daughter, who has many followers on Cryer’s Facebook page, where she posts how Shackelford is doing in her events every weekend.

Shackelford regularly competes in the Fort Worth Stockyards Rodeo on the weekends where she leads the High Money Cowgirl and the Barrel Racing Divisions. She has won a number of buckles (the actual number is argued among the family) for her riding prowessMuch of her success come from her horse, Hope, which she says she has had about a year. 

Hope has been instrumental in helping Shackelford win about $10,000 in her events this year. Hope comes from Terry Mitchell with 3M Performance Horses, one of Shackelford’s sponsrs.

Shackelford said she really doesn’t practice much during the week but going to rodeos every weekend gives her all the work she needs. After competing at the Fort Worth Stockyard Rodeo on Fridays, she usually heads to another rodeo or two before heading home.

Barrel racing is not Shackelford’s only rodeo event. She started doing calf roping about two years ago. While she says she enjoys that event too and has competed in both events at rodeos, she says barrel racing is still her first love.

Sponsorships would be welcomed to ease the burden of going to the NFR, Cryer said. For more information, contact her at Cuttin’ Corral.

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