ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – For the 670+ competitors at the Texas State High School Finals Rodeo, qualifying for one event is an uphill battle in and of itself. One Bellville 18-year-old has qualified in six!

The life of a cowgirl can be taxing, especially when you are juggling school, rodeo and everything else in between. It’s those late teenage years, right before college, when a lot of tough life choices have to be made, too. It’s no easy time for anyone, but for Jayci Lee Byler, she’s taking it to a whole new level.

“I do compete in almost everything; the barrel racing, pole bending, breakaway, goat tying, cutting- I just started that, and the reining cow horse,” Byler listed with pride.

That is six events. But not only has she qualified, but she has also placed among the state’s and nation’s best in each event, over her tenure in high school. It’s an incredible feat, no doubt.

With a busy schedule, this Bellville teen tells KTAB/KRBC she wakes up at 5:30 every morning to feed, water and prep her horses. Then it’s time to go to school for about eight hours.

“I go get my school work done before I have to go to school,” Byler said. “I’ll be there all day and once I come back, I get right back onto the horses and I start riding.”

Her horses stay busy, too. However, those schedules are not new to Byler or her horses, and they have ways to balance it out and keep themselves healthy.

For Byler’s horses, her mother runs a horse rehab center outside of Houston, and use a nebulizer to keep the airflow optimal for each horse before an event. They also use a horse blanket, similar to an electrode machine a person might use, that uses the magnetic field to send waves through the horse’s muscles, helping massage, relax and loosen those worked muscles.

Byler, on the other hand, adapted to that pre-sunrise schedule early on. Since she was six years old, Byler and her mother would work horses late at night, until 1:00 or 2:00 in the morning. While Byler would on occasion sneak off and read or fall asleep in a stall, she did not complain.

That busyness followed her into extracurriculars, too.

“My mom wanted me to try a whole bunch of things like cheer and karate just to get a familiar base of other things to try,” Byler explained.

Between little league baseball, ballet, cheer, rodeo and other activities, Byler was swamped, but said she wouldn’t have it any other way. She enjoyed the busyness of it all and praised her mom for creating an incredible work ethic within her.

“Staying on top of things, I mean, it just became the norm for me because my mom. She’s always been a hard worker,” Byler bragged. “She wanted to instill that into me, I mean, not just in rodeo but in everyday life.”

Her mother, Kimmi Byler, is also her coach. It’s a unique relationship they share, where her mother pushes her like every other student, but also has a unique sense of pride that can’t be overlooked.

“With Jayci, she’s accomplished everything I never could,” Mrs. Byler said as tears welled in her eyes. “She’s a better rider than me, and she’s going to be a better trainer. You just stop and say ‘thank you, Lord, for making my child better than who I am.’” 

There’s nothing like that mother-daughter relationship, but for the Bylers, their relationship runs deep and are faithful to seeing each other succeed every single day. 18-year-old Byler said if her mother gave 110% effort in training, she had to give 120%. It’s that push to make each other better that brings them closer everyday.

Byler said she could not have have had the success she’s had without her mother’s careful guidance. She said it’s those experiences, long hours and hard work that is helping her through her next life choice: Higher education.

Jayci Lee Byler is going to Sam Houston State University, a family tradition, to be on the rodeo team, as well as pursue a career as a Nurse Practitioner.

With all the medical work they have to do on their horses, much of which is similar to that of a person’s treatment, Byler believes it will make that transition from wanting to be a vet tech to a nurse that much easier.