story by Kailey Pickering After pursuing a passion for English jumping for four years, Grace Barnett turned back to her love of rodeo when her […]
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Meet the Member Swaize Lee
story by Lily Weinacht
Swaize Lee of Brownfield, Texas, has been competing in the AJRA for three years, and is serving as one of the student directors in the association. The 18 year old knew horses were her passion from a young age. “My grandma gave my family our first horse when I was little,” Swaize remembers. “I rode him around, and I didn’t really know what I was doing, I just knew I wanted to go fast! My dad used to tie-down rope, and he said if I was going to go fast, I had to do something efficient with it. So I started going to rodeos and jackpots, and it escalated from there!”
Swaize’s events are barrel racing, pole bending, team roping as the header, breakaway roping, and ribbon roping. “Breakaway is definitely my favorite, because your horse doesn’t do all the work for you. You have to put in a lot of effort too! I’m also the heading director in team roping for the AJRA, and it’s pretty cool to see the other side of things and what it takes to run a rodeo.”
She also competes in THSRA Region II, and Swaize says, “The people in rodeo are what drive me. There’s not a better group around, and they keep you wanting to come back for more. So many people have helped me figure things out – you never stop learning!” Several other people who have inspired Swaize include horse trainers Randy and Lisa Ogden, who shared their knowledge of horse training with Swaize, which she put into practice training her barrel and pole horse.
The Lee family lives outside of Brownfield in the sweet spot that Swaize says is close to town, but not too close. She has an older sister, Sage, who is attending the University of Oklahoma this fall, where she is studying to become a lawyer. Their parents, Brooke and Trevor Lee, spend much of their time in the arena with Swaize, coaching her in her events, or watching her rope with her two partners, Hannah Martin and Hayley Danley.
Swaize’s rodeo horses are Missy, Traveler, Lucy, and Speedy. Missy is the six-year-old barrel and pole horse Swaize trained, while Traveler, 12, is her mount in the breakaway roping. Swaize team ropes on Lucy, a 16-year-old mare that came from Guy Miller, and Speedy is Swaize’s prospective roping horse. “I practice a lot,” says Swaize. “If I don’t practice enough, I don’t feel prepared, and I don’t like that feeling! I remember that I’m competing against myself and no one else but the calf in the chute, and that’s what keeps me calm and able to do well.”
When she’s not in the arena, Swaize enjoys four wheeling, swimming, and reading autobiographies and other non-fiction, but she prefers to fill her calendar with rodeos, including several with the UPRA. Her favorite AJRA rodeo is Sweetwater. “I love the arena, and it’s pretty easy to rope calves in there,” she says. “The barrels are so fast – you just can’t beat that rodeo!” Swaize will be a senior this fall at Brownfield High School, and she has definite plans to rodeo in college on a scholarship, pursuing pro rodeo after she has finished school. Another one of her goals is becoming a horse trainer.
Swaize is the 2015 THSRA year-end breakaway roping and pole bending champion in her region, and her greatest goal for the summer is qualifying for the NHSFR. She finishes, “I want to thank Robin and Tracy Thornburg with Rockin XXL Hay-Rite for sponsoring me, my mom, dad, and sister, Guy Miller, Chuck Fenter, and of course, Randy and Lisa Ogden for everything they’ve helped me with!”