Elite female timed event rodeo athletes came out guns blazing when the $750,000 Women’s Rodeo World Championships (WRWC) were hosted Oct. 26-29, 2021, at the South Point Arena in Las Vegas, Nev. When the proverbial dust settled, it was Llano, Texas, all-around hand Rainey Skelton and her 7-year-old home-raised and -trained mare Fame And Jewels coming away with the victory.
The 17-year-old daughter of eight-time World Champion Heeler Rich Skelton and his wife Rhonda described the win as “insane.”
“Even last night, I had to ask my best friend, ‘Did that just happen?’ It’s unreal, insane,” said Skelton.
Skelton and Fame And Jewels achieved consistent performances throughout the preliminary rounds with solid times in the 15.5-second range before turning up the heat in the Main Event finale where their 15.229 took her to No. 1.
Note: Main Event to air on CBS Television Network on Oct. 31 at 3 p.m. ET.
“I knew she could do it if I just sat up there in the middle and did my job,” said Skelton. “I just focused on setting up square in my saddle and riding Jewels to the best of my ability. I knew I just needed to do my job.”
After making her WRWC debut as the No. 9-ranked barrel racer in the Challenger bracket, Skelton’s strategy worked to perfection with her time edging second-place Stephanie Fryar’s 15.265 and 2x World Champion’s Rodeo Alliance (WCRA) Champion Michelle Darling’s 15.346.
The experience of winning the WRWC barrel racing title on a home-bred horse is not lost on Skelton.
“It’s pretty special,” said the teen. “We raised her, my mom ran Jewels’ dam, and we had that mare’s mom too. We raised her and did everything with her. I started her on the barrels when she was 5 and she’s 7 now. This is our biggest win to date by far.”
When asked if her rodeo veteran parents had any special words of encouragement prior to her final-round run, Skelton says mom Rhonda “couldn’t breathe at that point,” but was on hand to offer encouragement, while dad Rich, via phone from home, advised her to, “do your job and let the cards fall where they will.”
A true family effort, Skelton explained that beyond being Jewels’ breeder, her mom also does a lot to help care for and maintain the palomino speedster at home.
Proving her skill as an all-around athlete, Skelton heeled for Avery Foguel during the first round in which the team stopped the clock in 6.9 seconds to earn first and $1,200. Next on Skelton’s calendar is a high school rodeo back home in Texas next weekend, but she says Jewels will enjoy a few weeks off. The high school senior is currently considering Cisco College in Cisco, Texas, and possibly a spot on the rodeo team. Skelton says her WRWC winnings will likely go to fund her continuing education.
“I also want to thank everyone with the WCWR, Bobby Mote with the WCRA and Sean Gleason with the PBR (Professional Bull Riders),” said Skelton. “They’ve done such an amazing job of making these large payouts and opportunities available. It’s opening a lot of doors for women in rodeo and it’s very exciting to be a part of it and be able to compete at these types of events.”
Athletes qualify for the WRWC by earning points and leaderboard positions using the VRQ (Virtual Rodeo Qualifier).
Calgary, Alberta’s Shelby Boisjoli earned the 2021 WRWC All-Around Cowgirl title. She won a $20,000 bonus and a custom saddle donated by Coats Saddlery, after earning 1,494 points during the three-day event along with nearly $64,000 in additional prize money.
WCRA and the Professional Bull Riders have announced the 2022 Women’s Rodeo World championship event will be split between the historic Cowtown Coliseum and Dickies Arena. The first three rounds of competition will be at Cowtown Coliseum May 16-17, with the final two rounds held at Dickies Arena in conjunction with PBR World Finals. 2022 Women’s Rodeo World Champions will again be crowned in the same arena as the PBR World Champion.
Please find all results HERE.