McMullen County ISD junior, Taber Garcia, earned the title American Junior Rodeo Association World Champion Barrel Racer in Sweetwater on Aug. 1, 2021.
By the last week in July, Garcia and her horse Chili had competed in 11 rodeos to reach the Finals. Together they finished No. 1 for the season. With another horse, Famous, she also competed in breakaway roping, winning them the Finals.
Checking off the box of “World Champion,” one might think Garcia would take a break, or move onto another challenge, but her passion for the rodeo is still strong and has encouraged her to shoot for more of her rodeo goals.
“My future goal is to be the first Chinese- American to run barrels at the National Finals Rodeo,” Garcia said.
The daughter of Marnie Rayes and Chuck Garcia, both of Tilden, and granddaughter of Larry Garcia, Minerva Quintanilla and Donna Rayes, Garcia has always been around horses and rodeo, “It’s just always been a part of me,” she said.
The name Taber Garcia can also be found on the top-10 list in the Ladies Breakaway results in August’s 2021 Cowboy of the Year Open Rodeo hosted by the Pleasanton Young Farmers.
“My dad team ropes, so I’ve been going to ropings and sitting on horseback since I was 3 years old,” Garcia said. “I was 7 when won my first saddle at Brush Country Rodeo and I’ve been hooked since then.”
Garcia’s involvement in rodeo goes beyond roping and riding. Her interest in journalism has led her to take on the role of Performance Reporter for the Texas High School Rodeo Association. This year, she is also a photographer on the MCISD yearbook staff.
Garcia has competed in the McMullen County Livestock Show since third grade and in 2021 was named Grand Champion with her class 2 market lamb. Garcia has also raised and shown goats for two years, but feels she has had more success with her lambs.
The arena is not the only place where Garcia excels. She is also a straight-A student, member of the National Honor Society and a skilled athlete. She played volleyball in junior high through her sophomore year in high school, but this year, made the decision to focus more on rodeo.
“This year I had to make one of the toughest decisions I’ve ever had to make,” Garcia said. “Volleyball has been one of my passions. I played on a select team in San Antonio and played varsity beginning my freshman year in high school. I needed more time in the practice pen so I chose rodeo.”
Even with all of these commitments she is also an active member of the McMullen County 4-H club and also finds time to serve her community.
This summer Garcia had the opportunity to volunteer at a local animal shelter with her mom. More than once, they gave some of their time to let the dogs out of their kennels, play with them, and give them the much-needed attention that they may not have had otherwise.
Garcia’s potential plans for the future include attending Texas Tech or Tarleton to compete on their rodeo team. Although she still has two years to decide on a major, through her own online research, she has developed an interest in possibly pursuing a career as a pharmacist. More About the AJRA
Founded on Christian principals, the AJRA was established in Levelland by Alvin G. Davis of Brownfield on June 7, 1952. Modeled after the Pro Rodeo Cowboys Association, boys and girls under the age of 20 compete within a set of rules and accumulate points toward becoming world champion junior cowboys and cowgirls.
Participants earn points for competing in approved rodeos. At the annual AJRA National Finals, the World’s Champions, per category and age group, and All-Around Champion Cowboy and Cowgirl are announced.
Awards for these honors include trophy saddles, buckles, merchandise and scholarships, not to mention the skills and confidence derived from the experience.
“Throughout the past and continuing today, the AJRA has produced some of the best professional cowboys and cowgirls as well as collegiate champions,” the AJRA website rightly boasts. “Many of the greats of professional rodeo got their start in AJRA.”