Oklahoma native and barrel racer Kassidy McKee is no stranger to the world of rodeo. While most people must wait until they are 18 to hit the professional rodeo trail, Kassidy’s had a front-row seat to the largest rodeos in the world since she was a baby.
Kassidy’s dad, Justin McKee, works as a professional rodeo announcer and TV personality. He also competed in steer roping throughout the early 2000s. Her mom, Jeannie, barrel races, too, and has raised and trained barrel horses for years. “I’ve been fortunate to have had a taste of professional rodeo since the day I was born,” Kassidy says. “I attended my first pro rodeo at just 4-weeks-old!”
A Competitor in More Ways Than One
Throughout high school, Kassidy competed in barrel racing and cutting. During that time, she earned three trips to the National High School Finals Rodeo as well as one state championship in the cutting her senior year. Kassidy was also crowned Miss Rodeo Oklahoma Teen 2016. She spent that year traveling the state as a spokesperson for rodeo and the western way of life.
“I gained a lot of life experience through holding this title that I have been able to carry with me and apply to the real world. Rodeo queens get a bad reputation, but if handled correctly you will gain life-long connections and lessons learned.”
While riding cutting horses was a great experience that made her a better rider for her barrel horses, Kassidy hung up her chaps after graduation to focus on running barrels full-time.
At 18-years-old, Kassidy became eligible to buy her Women’s Professional Rodeo Association (WPRA) permit to compete at the professional level. It was the natural thing to do.
“I felt like I had an advantage when diving into professional rodeo because I had been around it my entire life,” Kassidy explains. “Professional rodeo is a league of its own, and there’s a lot that goes into it—from getting entered correctly, to choosing the best rodeos for you and your horse, to keeping your horses safe, healthy, and happy while traveling.”
She purchased her WPRA permit in May 2018, halfway through the pro rodeo regular season. So, she and her mom stayed close to home to get Kassidy’s feet wet competing professionally at circuit rodeos.
Following the start of her professional rodeo career, Kassidy entered her next phase of schooling at Northeastern Oklahoma College. She accepted a college rodeo scholarship there while continuing to compete professionally. “Juggling both pro rodeo and college rodeo plus college itself can be a lot to plan around,” Kassidy shares, “but I felt I had a nice enough horse at the time that he needed to be on the big stage while also trying to make the college finals.”
Currently, Kassidy has relocated to the heart of rodeo country—Stephenville, Texas—where she is attending Tarleton State University. She’s majoring in Agriculture Communications with a minor in marketing while riding on the rodeo team and continuing to college rodeo. Upon graduation, Kassidy would like to stay true her roots and pursue a career in the western industry and the sport of rodeo.
Using Growing Pains to Come Back Stronger
In the summer of 2021, Kassidy’s plans to go on the road to a series of bigger rodeos had to shift when her horse was hurt. Instead, she scaled back to season her very inexperienced rodeo horse, KN Mister Fabulous (“Mister”). They went out ready to give it their best shot.
Seasoning horses to the rodeo road is a feat. It’s a big learning curve no matter their age if they are not used to being on the road, different types of ground and arenas, and the chaotic schedule. Thankfully my horse Mister took right to it!
Kassidy hauled on a limited schedule, ensuring that she did not put more pressure on Mister than he was ready for. At the end of the year Kassidy and Mister were able to accomplish a few of their goals: winning their first pro rodeo, competing at several bucket list rodeos, and getting in the money consistently throughout July and August. They landed just a few spots out of the circuit finals.
Now in the 2022 season, Kassidy has a better idea of where her horse runs and works the best. She’s excited to tackle the summer run with a solid plan and more confidence.
SUCCEED for Futurity to Finished Barrel Horses
Kassidy was first introduced to SUCCEED Digestive Conditioning Program when her mom started using it on one of her horses that needed help maintaining weight. Shortly after, Kassidy was running a 5-year-old she had acquired that needed help with his hindgut health. Adjusting to life as young rodeo horse is a challenge, and Kassidy wanted to be sure he maintained his weight while navigating these changes.
The first changes we noticed with SUCCEED were that the horses cleaned up their grain at every feeding, their haircoats looked healthier, and they had more strength when competing.
After the amazing results they saw on those two horses, the McKees put all their horses on SUCCEED to keep them in good digestive health.
With SUCCEED as a daily part of her horses’ program, Kassidy finds that her horses are fuller, shinier, and more relaxed on the road, which in turn helps their performance in the arena.
“SUCCEED is one of the few consistent things in a life full of variables when traveling. I’ve had horses go off feed and water when hauling, which is stressful for me. SUCCEED keeps my horses eating and drinking, so I can enjoy the road more.”
Kassidy keeps all her horses on their daily dose of SUCCEED year-round, from her finished rodeo horses to futurity colts. “I am excited to see the benefits in my futurity colt since he’s been on SUCCEED for a long time before being hauled heavily. Being proactive will make the transition to the rodeos and futurities much easier, and he will be stronger and healthier in the long run.”
Kassidy and her futurity colt Hell on the Heart, known around the barn as Warrior, are hitting the road with confidence for the 2022 season. She says, “Knowing I don’t have to worry about my futurity horse stressing with all the new experiences is a load off my mind.”
Barrel racing is more competitive than it has ever been. You need your horse always feeling his absolute best. When times come down to hundredths of a second, you need all the tools in your toolbox to be successful. The horse’s performance in the arena starts on the inside. Knowing SUCCEED keeps my horses’ guts in check lets me focus on my job as a rider rather than worry if my horse is healthy enough to compete to its full ability.