This story was published in the Winter 2023 issue of Total Sports Quinte magazine
Story by Jeff Gard/Total Sports Quinte
Jaylynn Burgess has been comfortable on a horse from a young age.
Even at three years old, she was almost a little too comfortable when she was riding.
“She would last for about 15-20 minutes and then she would actually almost fall asleep,” her mom Jodi said. “Just riding around and the rocking motion and then she started doing the little kid classes and now she rides all the time.”
Now 10, Jaylynn – a competitive barrel racer from Belleville – says she was never intimidated by a horse, despite a significant size difference between the two.
“I love about them how they can be really nice,” she said. “I like how they’re big and stuff and I like when they go fast.”
Racing came naturally to Jaylynn. It’s something others in her family already did. She enjoyed the classes she joined and transitioned to a competitive racer.
“I just started it and I never really stopped,” she said.
Even at her tender age, Jaylynn has already been racing for a number of years. Barrel racing, which is especially competitive in Ontario and the United States, is a timed speed event where the participants race their horse around three barrels.
Jaylynn competes with the National Barrel Horse Association (NBHA), which is the largest barrel racing association in the world. She competes for prize money – winning more than $2,000 in 2022 – awards and points toward NBHA Ontario and World finals.
“She worked so incredibly hard this season riding every day and working not only her competition horses, she would also work any other horses that were in need of work on the farm,” Jodi Burgess said.
Last year, Jaylynn began riding her new gelding named Platinum Firewater. They had a number of fantastic runs early in the season before she switched horses with her dad and started running his horse – an off-the-track QH (quarter horse) named Gettor Dunn.
“After she had a few rides under her belt she took off with incredible confidence at every race she entered,” Jodi said. “Her brother plays rep hockey so for our last two shows of the year she also ran her brother’s competitive mare Native Kartell. Her confidence and fearless nature allowed her continue to be a great competitor.”
Not only did she earn the prize money during her incredible 2022 season, she was the NBHA District 4 2D youth champion – winning a beautiful belt buckle for her efforts – the 2022 NBHA youth slot race champion with Native Kartell and the NBHA Invitational youth 2D champion with Gettor Dunn and won a saddle.
“It was really fun,” Jaylynn said of her season. “I don’t really have a favourite race, but my favourite show is probably finals because all of the awards and my friends.”
The last competition of the season was a special one as she ran her fastest time ever on Native Kartell, placing ninth out of 119 riders against some of the fastest horses and trainers in Ontario.
Jaylynn’s hard work has qualified her for the 2023 NBHA Youth World Championships in Perry, Georgia this July. Her brother also qualified and they hope to make the trip to compete in the world competition.
“I think it’s going to be pretty fun,” Jaylynn said.
She just loves being around horses, whether that’s her own, her family’s or others. There’s an abundance of horses at her family’s farm.
“I mix the grain and I water and I’ll hay while dad and mom do stalls and sweep and get the hay down,” Jaylynn said, adding that after those jobs are done she’ll help bring horses in if the time calls for it.
2023 is shaping up to be another great season for Jaylynn.
“She is a force when she’s on her horses – talented, determined and courageous,” Jodi said. “She is the first to congratulate her competitors on a great run and cheer them on from the sidelines, but it’s all business when it’s her turn.”