Lynn McKenzie

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Many people think you have to be born on a ranch and start riding horses very early in life in order to “grow up” to be a World Champion Barrel Racer.Well, it didn’t happen like that to Lynn.Born in Shreveport, Louisiana in 1946, her mom and dad were raised on farms, but neither one of them cared anything about horses.Lynn was raised up in Shreveport, LA, in the middle of town, and loved them since she was a little girl.She didn’t get her first horse until she was a sophomore in college.Her grandmother helped talk her dad into letting her have a mare named Dixie.Now, unknown to Lynn, Dixie was bred and that following spring had a filly.What a surprise.

Barrel racing didn’t become a big thing to her until she graduated from Louisiana Tech University in 1968 and began teaching school at Rusheon Middle School in Bossier City, LA.There was a group of ladies that were really into barrel racing, so Lynn began to train her filly for barrels.

During the next two years Lynn taught school. She also met and married Murray McKenzie who was in the Navy and stationed in San Diego, CA.Lynn often says that Murray married his first horse because that was his wedding present. When they moved to California, the Good Lord must have been looking over Lynn.While there, they kept their horses at a training center owned by Marge and Ward Keyes.It was there that she learned most of her horsemanship skills.

When Murray’s ship had to go on his third tour of duty to Viet Nam, Lynn returned to Louisiana.While at home, she met and worked for Martha and R.E. Josey.This is where she was able to learn a tremendous amount about how to actually ride barrel horses.Another barrel racer, Paula Muirhead also worked for Martha at this time.At Martha’s schools, Lynn and Paula would work in the back arena while Martha and R.E. would work in the main arena.

When Murray got out of the Navy, he went on to finish his degree at Louisiana Tech.He and Lynn then both helped the Josey’s with their schools and clinics, as their schedules would allow.After graduation Murray took a job in Shreveport, LA as an Assistant County Agent working with 4-H kids.Wendy was born in 1974 and eighteen months later Jennifer. In 1977, Lynn bought a 3-year-old gelding named Magnolia Missle from a friend named Peggy Ballentine.With only 120 days of barrel training, Lynn took Missle to the Texas Barrel Racing Association Futurity in Grand Prairie, Texas.Neither Lynn nor Missle had much experience in big competitions, but they went on to win all 3 runs for a total of over $13,000.

After this Futurity, R.E. Josey gave Lynn some advice that changed everything.He said that you only ride as well as whom you ride against.Her goal had always been to be a good rider, because she knew good riders could be successful on a lot of different kinds of horses.So Missle was only 4 years old when she joined the Women’s Professional Barrel Racing Association (WPRA).Murray got a map and drew a 150-mile circle around Shreveport.Inside this were rodeos they could go to on Thursday or Friday nights after they got off work.He then drew a 250-mile circle, which were rodeos they could go to on Saturday.After going through all the WPRA Newspapers from the year before, they found 120 professional rodeos that they could haul to within that area.Taking a week’s vacation in 1978, they made eight rodeos in 10 days.One of these rodeos was “The Daddy of ’em All” in Cheyenne, WY, in which Lynn and Missle took third.They went on that night to win Boulder, CO on their way home.They went to 43 rodeos in 1978 and made it to the National Finals Rodeo (NFR) in fifteenth place with just over $9,000 in winnings.Having two small children and both of them working and going to rodeos on the weekends, this young couple stretched themselves out to go after a dream.

Lynn taught school the day before going to the NFR and it was nearly terrifying to see the outstanding display of great horses and riders which had traveled to Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.This NFR was the last one in which everybody started the Finals with “0” amount of money and the contestant who won the NFR would also win the World Championship.To make a long story short, Lynn and Missle won four of the eleven go rounds and placed in all but one of the rest, and went back to Louisiana as the WPRA’s 1978 World Champion Barrel Racer.

Murray and Lynn worked at their jobs a while longer before finally being able to quit their jobs and rodeo full time.Once their career was in full swing, they won nearly every major rodeo in the United States at least once and many of them twice.Some of their accomplishments are a second NFR Championship in 1979, and a second World Championship in 1981.They won “The Daddy of ’em All” at Cheyenne twice, the Astrodome in Houston, TX in twice, and the average at the NFR three times consecutively. Missle’s lifetime earnings were over $300,000.Considering women did not receive equal money then as they do now, earnings were much harder to accumulate.

Lynn and Murray’s two daughters, Wendy and Jennifer, both won World Championships in the American Quarter Horse Association on a half sister to Missle named Magnolia Mistress.They have many titles between them in amateur rodeo associations in both TX and LA.They now both have families, and Lynn and Murray have three grandsons.

Murray and Lynn have designed and endorsed barrel racing equipment and saddles with several major manufacturing companies in the western industry.They are now holding barrel-racing clinics all across the United States.The clinics are reaching new levels with the introduction of technology from Tanner Timer systems, which divide the barrel race into 7 segments and give a time on each segment. This way problems can be worked on without running the entire pattern. Shane and Lanette Pritchard are working with Lynn and Murray to give students the ultimate barrel racing experience.”We desire to give our students the very best barrel racing instruction possible,” said Lynn. “However in pursuing goals people tend to leave out the most important element in their life and that’s giving God a place.He’s not to be just a part of our life, but He’s to be our life.When barrel racing or anything else for that matter, takes its proper place (in that it is not the most important thing), then it becomes one of the greatest things that we can do—- spend time with wonderful people of like interests and ride God’s most magnificent animal —– our horses.”