Cowboys of Color barrel racer has passion for horsemanship in her blood
BY BRAVETTA HASSELL World Scene Writer
Tuesday, August 28, 2012
8/28/12 at 4:59 AM
On a recent morning, Whitney Jefferson and Stormy are whipping around barrels in midtown.
More precisely, they're charging toward them, maneuvering as quickly as one can around them given that Stormy is a big, powerful 9-year-old horse, and the barrel, cylindrical and narrow and much smaller, is ... Well, it's a barrel.
On this day, Jefferson, of Okmulgee, is one of about 20 women competing to qualify for the evening's fourth annual Cowboys of Color Rodeo. And as fast as she and the horse break into the ring, Stormy staggers as she makes her turn around the first barrel. It's a tight turn, but she doesn't knock the barrel down.
If you hit it, you're not going to win, Jefferson says. It's an automatic plus five on your time. Still, Stormy falters slightly, and Jefferson's body comes incredibly close to the ground. But Stormy regains her traction and crosses to the next barrel, and the one after that with greater ease. Later on, Jefferson and others observe the course was a "slick" one.
It takes about 16 or 17 seconds for Jefferson and Stormy to complete this course. It's not their fastest time, and Jefferson doesn't qualify for the rodeo that evening. But she will be back up and at it again later in the week.
Racing runs in Jefferson's blood. Her parents founded the round-up club Okmulgee Mo' Betta Riders.
"Yep, and I was in that ever since I was a little kid," Jefferson says, sitting outside her parents' home. She was about 4 years old when her father sat her on her first horse, and soon she was riding by herself.
Jefferson says her mother would say she's been all over the world racing this summer. It's an exaggeration, but the 22-year-old did travel as far as Biloxi, Miss., this year and California in previous years.
She's passionate about this - so much so that she reconsidered a job because it conflicted with her ability to compete in rodeos on too many weekends.
"My momma said I have an addiction," says Jefferson, laughing at this assessment. "She's just playing with me saying I have addiction, but I like it. I like barrel racing."
As such, there's little time when Jefferson is not giving some part of her day to this passion. There's no resting.
"I don't take breaks at all, really," Jefferson says of her practice throughout the year. "If it snows, yeah. But if it doesn't snow, I don't take breaks too often.
"It's hard to come back from that."
It would be nothing for Jefferson to pack everything up - pack the pickup truck, load the horse trailer - and head to a local race. But on this day, she's decided to stay put. Still, she'll be practicing as the evening draws on.
Original Print Headline: Fast-paced passion
Bravetta Hassell 918-581-8316
Barrel racing competitor Whitney Jefferson, 22, rides her horse Stormy around a course in the Green Country Cowboys of Color Fourth Annual Rodeo qualifiers at Tulsa's Expo Square earlier this month. JAMES GIBBARD / Tulsa World
Whitney Jefferson cleans out the stable of her horse Stormy at her home in Okmulgee. JAMES GIBBARD / Tulsa World
Whitney Jefferson talks on the phone with her mother after she competed in qualifying rounds for the Cowboys of Color Rodeo. Jefferson's parents founded the round-up club Okmulgee Mo' Betta Riders. JAMES GIBBARD / Tulsa World
It took about 16 or 17 seconds for Jefferson and her horse Stormy to complete the course at the Cowboys of Color Rodeo. JAMES GIBBARD / Tulsa World
Jefferson has traveled as far as Biloxi, Miss., this year to compete and as far as California in previous years. JAMES GIBBARD / Tulsa World