Ferriday teenager ready to compete in youth world championship barrel racing competition

Published 12:00 am Saturday, July 28, 2001

FERRIDAY, La. – Debbie Wilkinson had no idea what she was getting herself into three years ago when she and her husband, Jimmy, bought her daughter, Megan, a pasture pony. She purchased the horse because Megan had always wanted a horse – even though the Ferriday family had no previous experience in handling one.

&uot;We knew nothing, not a clue, about horses,&uot; said Debbie.

Now the family has more than enough knowledge of horses. Over the past three years, Megan has become a champion barrel racer, goat-tier, pole-bender and break-away roper. And she’s only 13.

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Next week Megan will compete in the National Barrel Horse Association Youth World Championship in Jackson, looking to claim her share of $145,000 in prize money and win horse trailers, saddles and other prizes.

More than 1,400 entries will compete from around the world, though most will be from the United States. Last year, Megan finished in ninth place in the third division.

Megan’s interest in barrel racing and her other events began with her watching rodeos on the television and by attending the Angola rodeo every year. Megan had always said she wanted a horse. After a while, her parents relented and bought her a pasture pony.

But that wasn’t enough for Megan. She wanted to race. That’s when the family purchased Murdock, a barrel-racing horse.

It wasn’t long before the family started travelling to rodeo events around the nation.

&uot;I was just going out there and playing around,&uot; said Megan. &uot;Then I started winning, and I got addicted to winning.&uot;

&uot;We were only off three weekends last year,&uot; Debbie said. &uot;If there’s not (a race), she’ll find one.&uot;

The constant racing and Megan’s determination have meant huge success on the riding circuit. She’s a 2000 Mississippi State Champion, and she was the youngest rider to win the Rookie of the Year award in the Tri-State Rodeo Association, which includes Mississippi, Alabama and Louisiana.

Megan also is &uot;her worst critic,&uot; as her mother said. The family keeps a video cassette recorder in the trailer so that Megan can evaluate her performance after races.

&uot;I go over stride by stride,&uot; said Megan. &uot;I’ll look at, ‘This is where my hands were. This is where the horse should have been.’&uot;

Megan’s concentrating on winning the title at the Jackson event next week, but she has higher hopes.

&uot;My big goal is to win the National Rodeo Finals,&uot; Megan. I think I can do it if I stick with it.&uot;