MINCO, Okla. (TNN) -A barrel racer competing in the Lawton Rangers Rodeo this weekend is proving that age is just a number, after making the Wrangler National Finals in Vegas last year for the first time at age 61.
She's from the small town of Minco, Oklahoma, and Makenzie Burk had the chance to visit with her about why she's chosen now to compete professionally.
After years of training horses for other people, and competing in local rodeos, even qualifying for the women’s national finals 9 times, Dona Kay Rule decided it was time to chase the National Finals Rodeo in Vegas.
“I was sitting there watching TV, watching them interview Russell Westbrook and they were asking him why he thought he could make those shots. Do double-doubles and set records everyday,” said Dona. “And he looked straight through the camera at me, and said why not? And I said well, I don’t know why not. So I went. And it worked out really good.”
She and her husband John owned the National Saddlery shop in the Oklahoma City Stockyards for 30 years, until closing a few years back. Giving her more time to chase her dream.
“It’s really cool that you hit the epitome of your event,” said John. “What your life’s work has been, and hers has been. And man, to see it all come to fruition, that’s a dream that you don’t...not everybody gets to have that dream come true. So it’s been phenomenal.”
Dona had a pretty impressive first NFR, taking home two round wins in Vegas, and placing in 3 others.
“But I was not one bit afraid,” said Dona. “It just felt like I was supposed to be there. So that helped.”
She got her horse, High Valor, when he was 4, and trained him for several years. But it wasn’t until her other horse, Juice got injured, that it was Val’s time to shine.
“Juice was the A-team,” said Dona. “And when he got hurt, Valor just stepped up in there. I had brought him along pretty slow. He’s a racehorse, so his mind goes a lot faster than juices.”
She’s currently sitting in the top 10 in the world standings, on track to make it to her second NFR, for another chance at a world champion title. She says right now, she’s not letting anything, including her age hold her back.
“I’m sure my body will say hey you’re done, before it’s too long,” said Dona. “I’m aware that I’m in the twilight years. But I’m enjoying it right now, so I’ll just continue till I can’t.”
In Tuesday’s slack at the Lawton Rangers Rodeo, Dona ran a 17.20. She’s on her way to Sikeston, Missouri and then Montana after that.