Jackie Ganter reflects on her record-breaking Resistol Rookie season, and the journey she has been on in the sport of barrel racing since.
That’s how much Jackie Ganter won during her 2015 Resistol Rookie season, which earned her the Resistol Rookie of the year title, her first NFR qualification and a place in the history books as the winningest rookie in WPRA history.
“My rookie year was like my favorite ever. I think it always will be. I am so grateful for that year—what my horses did, what my family did to help me get there and how the NFR went. I couldn’t have asked for anything more.”Jackie Ganter
Ganter’s season was remarkable in her first ProRodeo year, but that doesn’t mean there weren’t a wave of emotions during. At just 18 years old, Ganter made the switch-up from open and derby races to full-time life on the rodeo trail.
“Going down the road was definitely a huge learning curve,” Ganter said. “I didn’t win a penny in July, and I dropped so badly in the standings. My mom was so ready to go home that she told me we were loading the dog and pony show up and heading back to Texas—we had a big throw down over it—and then, I don’t know, a switch flipped, and my horses and I got it together and started winning. We won about $30,000 that last month.”
Ganter was pretty positive she had the finals clinched during that season, but she put a bow on it at the Cowboy Capital of the World PRCA Rodeo in Stephenville, Texas, at the end of the season.
“I think I went into the finals No. 12,” Ganter said. “My last run of the year was at Stephenville. I was up on Sunday (the last day) and won it that year. I remember that I just started bawling when I heard my time. I was just inconsolably crying.”
Running on high after her standout rookie season, Ganter carried her momentum until an accident left her struggling just before her second trip to the NFR.
“I had a great NFR that first year. I rode my stud, Guys French Jet, all 10 rounds and won second in the average, placed in four rounds, took that momentum home and had a great winter. I stayed in the top five all season long my second year of rodeoing. “
“I made the Canadian Finals (in 2016), and I had a horse fall on me during a run there. I had a really bad concussion, and I was still trying to recover when the NFR came around. I didn’t have quite the NFR I thought I was going to have. It was still good, just not as good as i had hoped.”
Although she didn’t reach her lofty goals during ten rounds in Vegas, Ganter still finished her 2016 season No. 7 in the World Standings with $169,540.54 in earnings.
New Plan, Same Goals
After her second year on the road, Ganter found herself riding the highs and lows of a career in ProRodeo. She had success in spurts, but found injuries to her horses and herself keeping her just outside of another trip to the Thomas and Mack. She found her foothold in 2022 on a horse by the stallion she rode at the NFR, Guys French Jet. That horse helped her secure the No. 3 positon, and she is headed to the Texas Circuit Finals with $15,646.34. Ganter also noted that winning the ProRodeo series in Mesquite may not seem like an accomplishment to some when compared to an NFR qualification, but for Ganter it was a milestone to win on a horse she had poured into for many years.
Ganter has been focused on building up a herd of mares for Guys French Jet and raising more of his babies, but that doesn’t mean she’s ready to trade rodeo life for the futurity world.
“Rodeo is where my heart is at,” Ganter said. “My theory is that if the colts I’m training and bringing up are winning at the jackpots and I feel confident enough to enter them in a futurity, that would be great. But my hope is that they will make a rodeo horse eventually, so that’s what I strive for. I don’t push them, if I have a great horse at seven or eight, that’s great.”
From being thrust into the spotlight as a teenager, Ganter has gained some valuable insight throughout her barrel racing career to pass along to aspiring up-and-comers.
Find a mentor.
Although there is no substitute for learning the ropes on your own, Ganter noted that finding a veteran can ease the transition to the first year of rodeo.
“It doesn’t have to be somebody who (has made the NFR) 20 times, but somebody that’s been there, knows the ropes and that you trust,” Ganter said. “It’s important to find those people, build those relationships and listen to them.”
Get your mind right.
Ganter noted that many people don’t see the mental wear and tear of the rodeo trail from the outside. She believes that mental performance can be just as vital as physical skills when you find yourself in a tight corner.
“Work on mental strength and learning how to handle winning and losing,” Ganter said. “I can’t really say for other people, but for me–especially my rookie year–I got on a winning streak and just keep winning, but then when I lost, I just kept losing. I think learning to deal with those ups and downs—winning and losing—is a big part of it.”
Keep social media in perspective.
Ganter has been the subject of harsh scrutiny on social media since her teenage years, and she’s learned to keep it in perspective.
“People definitely have opinions and just completely voice what they want to say without having any regard for who is reading it,” Ganter said.
For now, Ganter is looking ahead to the Texas Circuit Finals, and the 2023 rodeo season, hopeful that another NFR qualification could be in future plans.
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