Savannah Shumpert of Mooreville, Miss. was named 2023 CINCH World Championship Junior Rodeo (WCJR) Champion with her impressive run on her horse, “Slick French Mimosa” (better known as “Minnie”) over the summer. The 17-year-old Mississippi native gave everything she had and secured her World Championship title by more than 1,200 points.
It was a priceless moment and memory for Savannah and her horse Minnie. Here we learn more about this Midsouth barrel racer and World Champion in this special Young Rider Q&A:
How long have you been riding? How did you get into riding?
I've been riding horses since I was a toddler! My mom was a barrel racer and my dad was a tie down roper, so they put me on horses at a young age. I guess you could say it's in my blood!
What type of riding is your favorite? AND what's your favorite thing about riding?
My preferred discipline is western, and my favorite part about riding is just being out in nature on the back of a beautiful creature God made.
How did you get into rodeo?
I've been barrel racing all my life, but I didn't really get into rodeo until 2020 when my parents entered me in my first Little Britches rodeo in Searcy, Arkansas, so I've been rodeoing a little over three years.
Tell us about your recent big win at the Cinch World Championship Junior Rodeo...
The WCRA DY World Title is something I've had in my sights for at least half a year. I stayed consistently in the number one spot on the leaderboard from December until the WCJR in July. I rode several different horses during the season, but when it came time for the finals, I ended up choosing my younger horse, Minnie, because she was best suited to a big pattern. She's only seven, but I trusted her with this big situation because I knew she was my best shot. She performed outstanding during the week, placing in the first round and the average. We had a slip in the semi finals, but she came back to make a solid run under pressure in the finals to secure the World Championship for us! I couldn't be any prouder of her. We had some really amazing girls in the competition that week, and I was thrilled to come out on top.
What has been your biggest challenge?
The most difficult part about rodeoing to me is staying disciplined and consistent in your training. Whether it's sweltering or freezing, your horses need to be exercised and cared for. They don't care how tired or sore you are! Rodeo doesn't really have an "off" season, so we haul year round and train 24/7. It can be hard to stay focused, but any athlete will tell you hard work is the tried and true way to success.
Who taught you how to ride? Do you train with anyone? If so, where?
My mom was the main teacher I had when it came to riding. She helped me learn the basics and coached me until I was around ten. I've had lessons from various people, including Mr. Chad Crider and Ms. Patricia Lee, but I don't currently train with anyone.
Who has influenced you and helped you get where you are?
Jesus Christ has had the greatest influence on my life, and everything I have I owe to Him.
My parents and sisters help me every single day when it comes to chasing my dreams. I also admire many professionals in my industry, like Hailey Kinsel, Fallon Taylor, Bayleigh Choate, and Taycie Matthews.
Where do you hope to be in 5 years? Do you have any short term goals/aspirations? Do you plan to continue rodeoing?
Long term, I aspire to professionally rodeo with the WPRA and win a WPRA World Championship. Short term, I am hoping to fill a WPRA permit and to get a degree in mathematics. I plan to continue rodeoing as long as God sees fit!
What other hobbies do you have besides barrel racing? What do you like to do that doesn't involve horses?
I've been taking art classes since ten, and my favorite form of art is sketching. I also enjoy painting, reading, cooking, and video games.
Any other important experiences or life lessons you've learned along the way?
Rodeo has taught me how to stay persistent, control my emotions, and keep calm in the face of adversity. It has brought me closer to God, and introduced me to some of the most wonderful people I've ever met. It has taught me to be selfless, compassionate, and to value the life of my animal.
Tell me about your horse(s): Name, how old, what breed, how long have you owned, what type of temperament and athletic ability?
Minnie is the horse I rode at the WCJR. She is a seven-year-old black quarter horse mare by Slick By Design, out of Native French Girl, who is by Frenchman's Guy (This is known as a "magic cross"). She was named after Minnie Mouse by a friend of mine. I've had the privilege of owning her for two and a half years, and I jockeyed her for one year before that.
Minnie is very sweet and lovable. She's what you call "in your pocket", and she's crazy about treats. She can be a little hot when it's time to work, but she loves her job and getting to run. She's great with children and seems to adore babies. Her breeding makes her naturally athletic, and she has a stiff turning style. Her best quality is her speed in a straight line! If I were to describe her as a person, I would tell you to think of Elle Woods from Legally Blonde. I think her slogan would be, "What? Like it's hard?"
What are you most thankful for?
I'm incredibly thankful to God for making this all possible, and I couldn't have done this without Him. My favorite Bible verse is 2 Corinthians 5:7- “For we walk by faith, not by sight.”
I want to thank Wendie and Doug Scheidle for trusting me with Minnie and believing we could do great things!
The way I met Minnie is rather interesting. I was at the 2020 BBR World Finals, and had ended up qualifying my two horses back to back in the finals. After I ran them, a woman approached me and asked if I had ever attended the Pink Buckle Barrel Race. When I said no, she left and then returned and asked, "Would you go?" She then told me she had a horse I could ride in the Pink Buckle Youth Incentive if I was willing. Of course, I was still on adrenaline from my two previous runs and giddy, so I said "Sure!" As we walked to her stalls to get the horse, it occurred to me to ask how old it was. When she told me the horse was only four, I almost backed out!
That woman turned out to be Ms. Wendie Scheidle, and the little black mare she pulled out of the stall that day was Minnie. The rest is history!
If you know a Young Rider who should be featured for their dedication and success in equestrian sports send an email to Publisher, Lauren Abbott at firstname.lastname@example.org.