Nowadays, not many people can say they are carrying on a 4th-generation family legacy, but Zoë and Zayda Morgan are 12-year-old twins from Brandon, MS who are making waves in the National Little Britches Rodeo Association (NLBRA) and are making their cowgirl family proud.
“I’m a fourth-generation cowgirl. It all started back in Beaumont, Kansas,” Zoë explains. “My great-grandmother was a rancher and it just kind of bled down from there.”
Nicole with Darkhorse Press had the opportunity to stop by the Morgan’s farm and meet with these National and World title holders. We asked them some tough questions about what kind of hard work it takes to be the best in rodeo.
We also talk about their biggest influences, give advice for future rodeo competitors, and tell us how they would make the world a better place.
Zoë Morgan, who has recently won the National Little Britches Rodeo Association Princess of 2022 title, will serve as one of three ambassadors for their association.
“The NLBRA headquarters are in Colorado Springs, CO; and there are over 3,000 members in the NLBRA. This year, at the finals, they had 1,600 contestants – and 3,600 horses – while awarding over $80,000 in scholarships,” Zoë tells us.
Zoë and Zayda have both won scholarships though this program, though the title of princess is not an easy feat. Zoë had to be judged on poise/personality, horsemanship, appearance, interview, and presented a two-and-a-half-minute speech for the title. She won the title riding her horse, Oakie Madera.
Zayda Morgan was the 2018 NLBRA World Champion in the goat tail untying event at only 8 years old. She also competes in pole bending, flag racing, and barrel racing on her horse, Lucky. But what she enjoys most is the friendships she makes while traveling for the competitions.
“My biggest influences are my parents,” Zoë tells us. It is easy to see where their love of rodeo comes from: their parents Brad and Ellen Morgan, who met while competing on the Southern Arkansas University rodeo team. Their grandfather and great grandfather were also in rodeo competitions.
Both girls have competed the past five years at the National Little Britches Rodeo Finals (NLBRF) in Guthrie, Oklahoma in the Lazy E arena. They will be heading back this year for to pick up some more titles.
The local franchise of the NLBRA, called Mid-South Little Britches Rodeo Association, is one of the largest and toughest off the 44 franchises in the nation. Within the franchise, there are 23 rodeos each year. This year, the girls will be competing in Meridian, MS and Brandon, MS.
When asked what kind of advice they would give to up-and-coming rodeo competitors, Zoë says to “go for it!”
“It’s fun, you can make friends, you can learn a lot of things about riding, horsemanship. All kinds of things that can make you a better rider and a better person.”
Zayda gives advice that will stand for any hobby or sport: “Once you do it, practice. Because if you don’t – somebody else is.”
In their spare time, Zoë and Zayda bring their horse, Lucky, to retirement homes to bring joy and smiles to the local residents.
“The people at the nursing love it when we bring our ponies there. They think it’s the coolest thing ever,” Zoë said. “They think they’re so big and beautiful.”
To top off the interview, we asked the twins what they would do to make the world a better place… They both had different, but very important answers.
“The immigrant situation on the southern border. We have friends from all over the world. America is a melting pot . . . so down on the southern border, I just wish that everybody would come in legally so that we can be peaceful and maintain the rules that were set by our forefathers,” Zoë said.
Zayda’s answered, “Put glitter on the white house.” Which might not solve all the problems, but it would give our world a little more *sparkle*. Just like the Morgan twins.
Zoë also told us about a wonderful non-profit organization managed by the NLBRA called Hope Counts. “It is a crisis fund where the NLBRA raises money to help any rodeo family in need,” Zoë explains. “It was founded by a 12-year-old girl that competed in the NLBRA, and I think she did a great thing.”
Zoë and Zayda will travel throughout their reign promoting the NLBRA, which started in 1952, and is now one of the oldest youth-based rodeo organizations.
“And I want to say thank you to all the people who put on our competitions. The Board of Directors, the sponsors, and all the people that make it happen,” says Zoë. “They do the things that set up the rodeo . . . and make it all happen.”
Visit the NLBRA Website to learn more about the organization, see their event calendar, or apply for a membership: www.nlbra.com