Texas Tech University

Shelby Mayfield Balances Professional Rodeo Career With Academics

David Gay

February 19, 2019

Mayfield won the barrel racing event for the second year in a row at the Cowboys of Color Rodeo in Fort Worth

Shelby Mayfield has a set schedule every day. She wakes up in the morning to ride and feed her horse. Then after classes, she feeds her horse again before going to study.

The junior business management student from Clovis, New Mexico, consistently balances her rodeo life with her academics. As a professional barrel racer, Mayfield competed and won the Fort Worth Cowboys of Color Rodeo Jan. 21 during the city's annual stock show and rodeo.

Mayfield said her father, Sylvester, is the one who started the family legacy in rodeo. He competed in the National Finals Rodeo in 1985 and 1987.

"He started the path for us," Mayfield said. "My brother and I took the reins when he retired."

Shelby Mayfield Participating in Barrel Racing Event

Mayfield has ridden horses as long as she can remember, participating in rodeo events since she was 7 years old. When she was in high school, Mayfield said she did very well in competitions, competing in the National High School Rodeo association finals as well as the National Junior High School Rodeo Association finals.

After graduation, Mayfield started her college career at Eastern New Mexico University. She said going there and living at home gave her the best opportunities in her rodeo endeavors. But after her freshman year, Mayfield wanted to make a change.

"I realized that I wanted to really invest in myself and in my education," Mayfield said. "I knew coming to Texas Tech University and especially coming to the Rawls College of Business would be the best decision for me. There are so many opportunities here, and the Rawls does really well with their career management center and all the scholarship opportunities."

Once Mayfield came to Texas Tech, she put her professional rodeo career on hold for her first semester for many reasons.

"I've never lived a normal life," Mayfield said. "I realized I wanted to be normal. So, I tried that. I also had gotten into a bad horse wreck at the San Angelo Stock Show & Rodeo last February and broke my foot. Then, the new year came and I realized this is what I love and this is what I want to do."

After returning to the professional rodeo circuit, Mayfield won the barrel racing event in the Cowboys of Color rodeo for the second year in a row. Mayfield said the win proved why she needed to come back to competition.

"There are going to be good times and bad times," Mayfield said. "But, the good times are definitely what you thrive off of. When you're in the hard times, you have to think how good it feels to win. With all the preparation, to get a win after everything is honestly the best feeling."

Mayfield said she loves competing in barrel racing events, especially in rodeos on a big stage like the one in Fort Worth.

Shelby Mayfield Riding Her Horse

"Honestly, I get a kind of a high from competing in rodeos, especially the big ones," Mayfield said. "I liked the one I competed in in Fort Worth, just going in there and having the crowd and everything is what drives me."

As well as being a professional barrel racer, Mayfield also competes as a member of the Texas Tech Rodeo Team. She said after competing on the team at Eastern New Mexico, she wanted to be a part of one of the most prestigious teams on Texas Tech's campus.

Jerrad Hofstetter, coach of the Rodeo Team, said Mayfield has been an outstanding addition.

"Anyone who knows Shelby knows she's always got a big smile," Hofstetter said. "She just lights up the room when she walks in."

Hofstetter said he has seen Mayfield's growth since her transfer in the fall. Hofstetter thinks by winning events like the one in Fort Worth, it gives her a boost of confidence that could translate into success for the team.

"Anytime you move away on your own, I think there's a transition period," Hofstetter said. "At first, when she was here, you could tell she was a little nervous. Now, she has automatically just become one of the leaders out there."

Tristini Tomlinson, a junior journalism student from California and Mayfield's teammate on the Rodeo Team, said Mayfield has helped her by leading the team.

"I haven't known her for her entire life," Tomlinson said, "but through Texas Tech, she has really found herself. I feel she really knows what she wants to do with her life. She's really goal-oriented and determined."

Mayfield is looking forward to making her mark this semester as a member of the Rodeo Team. To prepare for her event, Mayfield has to keep her horse in excellent shape.
Mayfield said there are also mental obstacles she has to overcome before competing in each event.

"Mentally, I just have to know going into the arena what I have to do," she said. "Sometimes I have to call my dad. He knows a lot about it and he keeps me mentally strong. That's another big part of rodeo because, no matter how you're doing, there might be some unforeseen circumstances. You have to keep your mind right and know you can win no matter what."

Shelby Mayfield Participating in Barrel Racing Event

A support system is an important thing to have while competing in rodeos, Mayfield said.

"You cannot do this sport on your own," Mayfield said. "That's one of the toughest things, financially, mentally and physically. You're going to go through a lot of things and to have someone behind you who knows how to help you and tell you what you are doing wrong or what you need to change is really supportive."

After she graduates in the summer of 2020, Mayfield hopes to go into the sales aspect of rodeos, distributing western wear products to stores around the country. Mayfield wants to stay close to the sport she loves, so she can continue to compete in her event for years to come.

Mayfield said she made the best decision, coming to Texas Tech after her freshman year of college.

"I knew coming to Texas Tech would be a really good decision," Mayfield said. "After my freshman year of college, I just made the choice. There were sacrifices I made, but I'm graduating in a year. With everything, it's going to be so worth it when I can rodeo and can have a good job that was provided to me from my good education here at Texas Tech."