When 17-year-old Jenna Ellis loaded “Afton A Winner” aka “Bubba” onto the stock trailer for a trip to Waco earlier this month, she had no idea how much he would live up to his name.
The 24-year-old retired gelding was only going along for the ride as a companion to Ellis' barrel mare, “A Royal Bid.”
The old man's experience and the young girl's determination paved the way for a drive home in a brand new Dodge pickup.
Ellis, junior class president at Afton High School, knocked off a 16.622 second run at the Barrelnanza Finals in the 4D at Waco Nov. 9. The run put her in first place for a 2008 Dodge and a belt buckle.
“Afton A Winner has done it all for Jenna,” said the teen's mother Jan Ellis. “He's competed in all events - poles, western pleasure, reining, parades and the 2006 Miami Rodeo Queen competition.”
Together, horse and rider have won buckles, saddles and lots of other prizes and money over the past five years.
“He's one of a kind,” said Jan Ellis. “He did it all from age 19 to 24.”
A Royal Bid aka “Sister” turned a 15.807 second win in the 2D competition at Waco placing 120th out of 2,300 riders. Nothing won - but she was only a half-second behind the money.
Jenna has trained “Sister” for the past five years and hung in with her through many ups and downs, according to Jan Ellis.
“We are very proud of her too,” Jan Ellis said of the 9-year-old mare.
Jenna Ellis, who began riding at the age of 2, has competed on barrels for about 8 years, according to her mother.
“She conditions her mare at home and competes about twice a month,” Jan Ellis said. “In the summer, she competes about every weekend.”
Despite a busy schedule, Jan Ellis said her daughter is an honor student, vice-president of the Ag Club and very active in school. “She's a busy girl.”
In addition to winning the new truck, Jenna had the opportunity to compete with professionals - including last year's National Finals Rodeo champion, Brittany Phar.