Kylie Sisam sometimes thinks her competition partner can be as stubborn as a mule.
As a barrel racer on UVU’s rodeo team, Kylie competes with her 12-year-old gray mare, Wicked, and finds the same traits that make Wicked a competitor can also make her difficult.
“She’s ‘spunky,’ if that’s a good word for it,” Kylie says of her horse. “She can be difficult and opinionated. But she also loves to compete and is easy to run.”
In fact, Kylie doesn’t consider her relationship with Wicked as an equal partnership — and the horse would agree.
“She’s the star and I’m the staff,” Kylie says.
Kylie comes from a rodeo family (her father was a professional steer wrestler and her brother steer wrestles, as well) and has grown up around dust and mud. She started entering races at age 7 and competes in barrel racing and break-away roping at UVU. Her family’s 20-acre property in Lake Shore is not only home to Wicked, but also other horses and animals — including a miniature horse that is Wicked’s best friend who comes to competitions as an emotional support for the racehorse.
“She’s the star and I’m the staff.” — Kylie Sisam, UVU barrel racer
“She’s emotional and very dramatic,” Kylie says. “From the time I get her out of the pen, I know what mood she’s in. If she’s ‘on the muscle’ and prancing, I know she’s going to run well.”
The two competitors — the human and her horse boss — work together to get ready for the run and to make the most of each competition.
“She reads the arena and knows when it’s time to rock and roll,” Kylie says. “She knows if I’m nervous. She knows her job — she’s an athlete — and she loves to run.”
Kylie and Wicked have worked together to maximize results. Kylie trains and conditions Wicked daily, focusing on exercises that build muscles to give Wicked a quick burst of speed to maneuver through the pattern and be successful.
The team competes every weekend in March and April and trains all year round.
“Rodeo is a way of life,” Kylie says. “It’s an everyday thing.”
And Wicked is next to her every step of the way.