Top Performer: Jayton McKay
WALL, S.D. — Jayton McKay from Wall has been involved in rodeo events since she was four years old.
But she’s only been competing in cattle cutting for the last three years.
However, Jayton has made up for it in a big way and her hard work is paying off.
Cattle cutting is a competition in which the rider and horse work as a team to demonstrate the horse’s athleticism and ability to handle cattle.
“You and your horse have to be able to click together to be able to do it or its not going to go very good,” Jayton McKay said. “Cutting is that event that it is pure you are showing off his skills. You have to make the horse look good. Not the other way around.”
Jayton recently competed in cattle cutting at the state high school rodeo with the hopes of qualifying for the National High School Finals Rodeo.
To qualify for the national team, contestants must finish in the top four of an event.
Jayton knew it was a long shot after entering the state rodeo finals in 10th place.
But once the competition was over, Jayton finished in fourth place and qualified for the National High School Finals Rodeo in her final year of eligibility.
“I was really surprised when I came up this year and came with a vengeance basically,” McKay said. “Making it to state was good enough for me. But every year I’ve made it to state and I’ve made it to short go every year. That was awesome enough. But making it to nationals, that was just mind blowing.”
Jayton admits she’s had to overcome several challenges over the past three years.
She’s currently riding her third horse in as many years.
Plus, the 18-year old had to deal with the loss of a close family friend and mentor, Gerald Tanner.
“He was very helpful,” McKay said. “He was a kind guy. He died two years ago when I was at state. He was a big inspiration in my life. I found out later that he use to cut and he wanted me to learn how to cut too. So that family, they’ve been really good to me.”
Now Jayton and her horse Slick, which is owned by Gerald’s wife Eris, are in Rock Springs, Wyoming this week competing on a national stage.
She says she’s excited but nervous.
“It’s a great opportunity to go out there and meet new people and learn what my horse and I can really do together since we’ve started clicking finally,” McKay added.
Jayton plans to attend Eastern Wyoming College in Torrington, Wyoming this fall and continue her rodeo career, as well.
Congratulations to Jayton McKay on being named a NewsCenter1 Top Performer.