Who are the booming barrel racing sisters topping the 2006 charts? That would be eleven-year-old Mesa and eight-year-old Shiloh Leavitt of Blue Grass, Iowa, who are riding their way through a remarkable winning streak this rodeo season. And in a sport dominated with traditional western attire, the unstoppable sisters always wear Troxel helmets when they ride. Parents Richard and Heidi Leavitt require it after the girls suffered a serious accident last year.
“After I saw how badly my little sister got hurt I realized how fast things can happen and I went out and got a helmet with my friend,” said older sister Mesa, “I wear a helmet every time I ride now.”
The accident occurred on their parent’s 130-acre farm last fall. On their way to feed their horses, the girls lost control of their John Deere Gator and ran into a tree. Shiloh suffered more than 20 skull and facial fractures that required several facial reconstructive surgeries. Mesa tore a ligament in her knee but, against her parents’ urging, returned to compete the following weekend. She dedicated her performance to her sister, winning all three rounds and the average at the Iowa Rodeo Cowboys Association (IRCA) event.
After eight months of recovery time, Shiloh was back in the saddle. In 2006, her achievements include:
• Little Britches Little Wrangler World Championship in barrels
• Top 20 Josey Junior World
• Won 16 Little Britches rodeos events, 6 times All-Around Cowgirl
• Ottumwa Youth Rodeo Champion Barrels and Poles.
This year, Mesa has won a horse trailer for winning the Josey Junior World, where she was the Overall Champion two years in a row. In the International Professional Rodeo Association, Mesa is winning the World Championship and the Rookie of the Year. Mesa recently achieved top 5 at the Mega Race last month in Jackson. Although the girls frequently compete in the same events, it does not interfere with their sibling relationship.
So far in 2006, Mesa has earned the championship title of the following events:
• 2005 & 2006 Josey Junior World Champion
• Winner of the Josey Reunion Round-Up 1st & 2nd Go Rounds
• Winner of the Jr. Championship at the 2005 AQHA Congress
• NBHA Great Lakes Nationals Youth Champion and Top 3 Open
• NBHA Heartland National Open Champion and Reserve Youth Champion
• All-American Youth Champion
• Race for the Rockies Champion
• Big D Guarantee Champion
• Columbia, MO Barrel Bash Champion
• Lincoln, NE Barrel Bash Champion
To balance the demands between competitions and school, the girls are home-schooled by their parents. Their days begin at 6 a.m. to feed their seven performance horses.
“Everyday I am just so surprised by their constant dedication to their horses and what it takes to be a part of the sport,” said Heidi Leavitt, the girls’ mother.
With the dedication and support that the Leavitt sisters have, there’s no doubt that their names will continue to top the charts in competitions to come.
About Troxel (www.troxelhelmets.com)
Troxel is the world's leading provider of ASTM/SEI certified equestrian helmets for competitive, schooling and recreational riding. Established in 1898, Troxel is recognized for its innovative design and research leadership in helmetry. Based in San Diego, California, Troxel now dedicates all its resources to equestrian helmets and related accessories, and has provided over two million helmets to the equestrian market. Troxel's CEO, Dr. Richard Timms, is a research scientist and former physician specializing in critical care, and is dedicated to developing products that address public health and injury prevention.