This week let’s meet Miss Makayla Seely. She is from Riverton, WY and competes in the barrel racing.  The more I am around Makayla the more I admire her grit and spirit.  She seems like a pretty easy going gal.  Not much gets under her skin.  She tells stories with her hands and has a few signature phrases that you’ll hear multiple times if you have a long enough conversation with her;  one of the things we fancy about her. <3

Last year, in her freshman year, Makayla qualified for the CNFR in the barrel racing. She competed off her good horse, Whoopie Sue, most of the season and although she ran into a few snags inside the arena towards the end of the season, she was cowgirl enough to make it work. She chose to get on Sis, her grandma Ruby’s horse, the last few Spring rodeos and she rode her at the College National Finals Rodeo held right here in Casper. Together they won the first round and placed in the second and third rounds. They ran their fastest time of the week in the Short-Go on Saturday night in front of an amazing crowd and ended up 8th in the Average. 8th in the Nation! And to top it off, she also won the National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association Rookie of the Year. Boom.

Now, there is a reason I started with those glaring successes. I wanted to tell you about her success in the arena prior to telling you about the obstacles she dealt with outside the arena. In the past year, she overcame obstacles that were hard.  I’m not talking about typical freshman things; they didn’t teach me how to study, I slept in, couldn’t pull my act together, girls are mean stuff. Really hard things. Makayla’s dad, Corey Seely, passed away coming up on a year ago this weekend.  It was sudden and unexpected; a brain aneurysm. Through the entire year, I never saw her get down or let those things impact her school, her positive attitude, or her level of competition.  She may have been a little behind in math class, but she fixed it up by the end of the semester. 

She was by his side at the hospital and was there to help in the decision to unplug him from life support. 

Pictured, is Makayla and her father, Corey.

Read that last sentence again. At some point in your adult life it begins to dawn on you that your parents will leave your side; but not when you have just begun to learn how to adult, not this soon. That is a lot for any well rounded, “shit is in it’s place” adult, let alone a freshman in college. Her teammates and girlfriends rallied around her. It was fairly early in our Boarding relationship, so we hadn’t really been given much of an opportunity to get to know her. She is the best friend of my cousins’ kid and therefore she is a member of our family. Josh and I offered as much support as we could. I actually heard the news from another kid that was boarding his horses with us. I texted immediately and maybe didn’t even hear back. We know sudden loss and it can quickly sweep you off your feet, if you are not careful. We were careful not to bombard her with questions when she showed up and both Josh and I were in awe of how well she was handling things. For those that know loss, you understand all of the details that have to be managed and sorted through in a fairly quick amount of time. With her being his only child, a lot of this landed on her shoulders. I am thankful for her mom and grandparents that were able to provide needed support in this area. She missed up to one week of school to help arrange these things and then was back at our house.

Photo taken at the Casper College Rodeo in the Spring of 2019. Left to right: Bailey Miller, Makayla Seely and Aften Peterson

Perhaps it was the obstacles and the hard life lessons that brought her closer to us. We extended special invites to her for dinner. Even though at this point, she didn’t have her horse with us any longer, we wanted to do a quick mental health check. I would text her just to let her know we were thinking of her. I would tease her about not staying in touch. We invited her and a buddy out for dinner on a couple of occasions and talked about school and girl stuff. At which point they would tell us about “life changing” mascara, “life changing” keto diets, and “life changing” pants. I know the conversation took a turn for Josh at this point. I would tell them about Dave Ramsey and not to even get any credit cards. I vow to buy them each Financial Peace for graduation. Then something magical happened. We started talking about God, the You Version App and quick and simple bible studies that they had been doing. It was then I realized something about her.

It wasn’t that she was so much stronger, it was that she had God on her side the entire time. And the best part was, she knew it.

Although we rarely can get through a study together, I still invite her to join me. Knowing that you have a like-minded cowgirl out there praying and believing in you and with you, well, it changes things. I hope that she feels the same way.