story by Mackie Ford I caught up with Haze Kuykendall, an Oklahoma Junior High School Rodeo Association member and son of Justin and Mandie Kuykendall, […]
Association MemberJoin Rodeo News
Meet the Member
story by Lindsay Humphrey
Basically every event that Gracie Lewis can enter in the OKJHSRA is what she’s entered the entire season. Aside from the roughstock events of course. The Overbrook, Oklahoma, cowgirl runs barrels and poles, ropes calves in the breakaway, ties goats, runs in the ribbons and heads for her partners, Drey Taylor and Cactus Cain. “Team roping is my favorite event because my whole family does it,” said the 14-year-old. “My grandpa [Bobby Lewis] and dad [Clay Lewis] got me started riding and then roping came next. When I got my first horse – Tangys Classy Boots [“Boots”] – I was 6 and she was an all-around horse and that’s when I started entering all the events I could.”
Originally a cow horse for her grandpa, Boots made riding and competing fun for Gracie. “She’s by far the best horse I’ve ever ridden. I showed her a couple of times in the cow horse and she was just so fun to ride.” Teamed up for almost 8 years, now Boots is teaching Gracie’s 6-year-old brother, Grant, the ropes of horsemanship. “It was hard to give her up just because I love her so much, but it was also easy because I knew she would make my little brother really happy.” Never horse poor thanks to her grandpa Bobby Lewis, Gracie rodeos and shows on the Quarter Horse circuit.
Even though Gracie’s show career has taken her into the cow horse pen, she primarily shows in the same events that she rodeos in. Last year at the Youth World Show, she won the level two heading on Spooks Cherry Bomb, owned by Bobby Lewis and Denice Bledsoe. She also ran poles on Duals Gold Cd (“Elvis”). “This year I want to try and qualify in barrels on Elvis’ half-brother Dual Fritz and breakaway roping on my grandpa’s longtime calf horse, Merada Mac [“Mighty Mouse].” Time will tell if Gracie can get the job done, but she certainly has the grit and tenacity for it.
Until then, she’s focused on finishing out her final season with the OKJHSRA. “When the season started, my goal was to make it to nationals in my top four events [poles, breakaway, ribbons and team roping]. Right now, I’m set up to do that, but anything can happen at state finals.” Last summer, Gracie made her very first trip to nationals with Elvis in pole bending. “It was very exciting but also a little overwhelming at times. We won third in the first go round and I could hardly believe it was actually true.” It was a Cinderella story long before Gracie and Elvis ever made it to Georgia. Just three weeks before they were due to leave, Elvis came up an abscess. “We didn’t know if he’d be okay, but the vet told us to keep wrapping it and see what happened. God worked a miracle and by the end of the week we were practicing again.”
God has worked several miracles for Gracie and her horses, but none as important as the family and friends who surround and support her. “My grandpa has me set up with great horses so I have the best shot at competing at the top of every event. He helps make sure I know how to ride all the different horses to the best of their abilities.” Elvis is the fastest horse Gracie’s ever ridden and also the most special. He was a Christmas present from her grandpa this past December.
When it comes to swinging a rope, it’s Gracie’s dad who’s there with the pointers but Joseph Harrison also contributes. “Joseph and his wife, Jodi, have always been a part of my life in and out of the arena and are always a big help. I’m thankful for my mom [Hannah] and grandparents [Jeff and April Elison] who help me stay strong and not quit when things get tough. I feel like I have an advantage with that amazing support system in my life and I hope it will help me fulfill my dreams of rodeoing at the pro level one day.”