My name is Melissa Jevicks and I am so excited to be apart of the Cowgirl Dreams Team!
I live Cowgirl Dreams daily. I am a 24 year old barrel racer that grew up in Higgins Lake, MI. From the age of three I have had big plans and no one is going to stop me from accomplishing them.
Growing up my only dream was to one day own a horse. But, every little girl goes through that phase, don’t they? From the time that I was a small child, all I wanted was a pony. My family was supportive, but made sure I knew exactly how much work horses were to take care of. The thing that set me apart from all the other little girls was that everyone was against me, and it didn’t matter. I worked hard, had my mind set on the goal, and I never gave up.
As early as I can remember, I have had to work for everything in my life. Nothing has ever been handed to me. My parents have never been well off, there was no extra money to buy me a horse, let alone all the extra costs of owning one. I would find ads in the newspaper for free horses every single week. My mom’s response was, “no horse is ever free.” My mom has always been my biggest fan. She has supported me every step of the way and would always try to get me involved in horse related activities as often as she could. We would go to 4-H meetings just so I could learn more about horses, attend horse shows so I could watch the horses movement, I would find people to let me pet theirs, but no one would ever help me further than that. I was a hassle to everyone we ever tried to be around. I offered to clean stalls, to work off any help they could offer me, but no one wanted to waste their time on some kid.
I cried every night as I wrote in my diary about how I would never have the chance to own a horse. My mom always told me, "No one can take your dreams away from you, and only you can make your dreams come true." So, my journey began. I decided that if no one was willing to help me, I would find a way to do it myself. I would go to my sister’s softball games and dig through all the garbage just to collect soda cans. .10 cents at a time I was closer and closer to owning my own horse. I would yell “STOP!” and my dad would slam on the breaks every time we passed by a can on the side of the road and the new joke around the campfire pit was no longer about beer money, but Melissa’s Horse Fund.
When I was 10 years old my mom said, “lets go for a drive” I had no idea where we were going, but I hopped in the car anyways. Down a dirt road, through a tunnel of trees, passing farms, a mail box that read, “Hawk Hill Farm” and right before the bend in the road was a sign that said “Whoa.” I’m sure my eyes were popping out of my head at that point. We turned the corner and drove up to a ginormous horse farm. There were girls out riding in the arena and as we walked up to the fence, one girl took off down the alley way and around three barrels. Of course, my reaction was, “WOW! I want to do THAT!” And so a dream was born.
Years and years of hard work had FINALLY paid off. I was able to help my parents pay for half, HALF, of my first horse. All through soda can money. My mom and I talked with Geri, the new barn owner, about helping me learn to ride, care, and look after my new horse, Jilly. Thanks to Geri, I was able to work off most of my board payments, lessons, and she began to teach me everything she knew about horses.
I have been barrel racing for almost 15 years now. I have won District Championship titles, 5 belt buckles, qualified for NBHA Youth and Open Worlds numerous times. I have been a Michigan State Finalist, a Youth World Finalist, and I am now riding under World Champion Barrel Horse Trainers. I have ridden some of the top horses in the entire country, become friends with World Champion jockeys, and I am bound and determined to keep on climbing this ladder.
I can honestly say that if my story was different and had a horse handed to me, I would not be half the person I am today. Horses have taught me everything I know in life, even before I received Jilly. Thanks to my parents I know with every bone in my body that with a little hard work, you can accomplish anything you set your mind to. As for today, I have set the highest goals I can think of for myself in the horse industry. They scare me to death most days, but because of the Cowgirl Dreams way, I know it is within reach.
Other than my parents, of course, Geri was the first person to ever help me achieve my goals. Ever since then, I have had people bending over backwards for me. God truly has blessed me with the most amazing friends, family, and support system I could ask for. I think one of the most important things in life is to surround yourself with like-minded people. People who share your passion, people who are going to push you to catch that dream every day you wake up, and people that can remind you to keep your faith when nothing is going right.
The horse industry is a tough one to be in. I have always had struggle, after struggle, and I continue to struggle trying to make it in this world. I have been ready to give up countless times. I felt lost; in life, with my faith, and I felt like I should just sell my horses. But, if you are brave and stick it out, amazing things will happen. God’s timing is perfect and everything happens for a reason. I know first hand it is not always easy to remember that, but he put everyone here for a purpose. I truly believe deep down that this is what I am meant to do with my life. Horses are my one and only passion. I’ve always been that odd duck out, that crazy horse girl, and an outsider. I feel like I am just now understanding why, and that it is okay. Not okay, it is great!
My dad was my biggest critique. He was hard on me, never understood my love for horses, but always wanted the best for me. I started attending Michigan State University for Equine Management before he passed away. We argued all of the time, but I know he was happy that I finally found what I was looking for in life. I have been blessed to work under and meet some amazing people through my time at MSU. These people, my struggles, and my goals in life have lit a fire inside of me, and like I just said, God’s timing is perfect. All of my other plans haven’t worked out for a reason. I am still a hot mess most days. My life isn’t anywhere near perfect or where I want to be. I have a lot of regrets, a lot of buried feelings and hurt just like any other person. I am a beautiful disaster.
I love that Cowgirl Dreams is all about embracing YOU. You, plain and simple, just as you are. People are always going to have role models, someone to look up to, but you should never loose yourself in that. There is already a Fallon Taylor out in the world, but what about Melissa Jevicks? She is going to be great someday and I want others to realize that about themselves as well.
I am excited to be part of the Cowgirl Dreams Team because I love what the brand stands for. No matter who you are, what your goals and passion are, YOU matter. My personal goals in life and in the arena are higher than I even know how to get. But, I’ve made it this far with all the doubters behind me. Someday, when I am a famous horse trainer I would love nothing more than to still be representing a brand such as Cowgirl Dreams. I want to be able to use my fame to lift others up that have been in my same situation. I want to bend over backwards for people like so many others have done for me. I want to help kids reach their dreams, or at least be able to give them the tools and knowledge to get them where they want to go. I don’t want people to be scared to walk up and chat with me because of the World Title that I hold. I want that to encourage people, I want to use it for good, I want to inspire others to hope, dream, and have the courage to get out there and chase their own dreams.
I want to give a special thanks to my mom for all the years of support, past, present, and future. Also, to my boyfriend JR. Without his constant hard work I would never be able to make training a career. On my absolute worst days, he is the first to continue pushing me to chase my big arena dreams.I'm fortunate that 2016 has brought me to a place that I can concentrate my focus on training and continuing to learn from other professionals. While I get where I’m going, I want to inspire others to live Cowgirl Dreams!
Melissa's 2016 In Review!
(Image by Ralph Newenburg)
Every year I set out big goals for myself and the horses I will be riding. Unfortunately, life happens and not everything goes the way you hope for it to. This season did not play out how I was envisioning it. The horse I was hoping to finally make some progress with only made it to three shows before coming up lame. We found soft tissue damage to her lower leg which will put her out until next Spring. I didn’t have much drive and threw myself a little pity party. I decided that maybe it was best to stay home and focus on the colts that I had work to do on. I quickly was reminded that, “everything happens for a reason.” My summer has been spent learning. I have learned a great deal and I know that I am a better person because of it.
(Image by Ralph Newenburg)
I spent a lot of time at home this season. I have a two year old in my barn, Rocky, that is here to be broke out, and a ten year old mare, Hussey, that I have been working with for the past two years. I truly believe that every horse can teach you something new, but you have to be willing to learn from them. Rocky has increased my knowledge so much in the past few months, and I am beyond grateful for it. He really took me back to my roots and reminded me that being a Horsemen is what’s truly important. He also reminded me that everyone is in constant need to continue learning, and when you have hit a wall you have to be comfortable enough with yourself to admit when you need help. Many issues I have been able to work though on my own, but there is still one thing that I know that I need help with. So, I decided that I will be scheduling myself a lesson with him. I am so excited to see what this professional has to say and can show me where the holes are in my own training methods. It’s all about how you look at a situation. You can never grow if you aren’t willing to accept some criticism.
(Image by Ralph Newenburg)
(Image by Ralph Newenburg)
Other times horses come into your life so that they can help piece you back together. An old friend of mine had to give up her 20 year old gelding, Solo, as a result of heading off to the Michigan State Police Academy. Her family has bent over backwards for me my entire life, so taking in her old man wasn’t even a thought in my mind. I have always loved running him and you can’t help but smile every time he takes off down the alleyway. This season he has brought the joy back into me and this sport that I used to love more than anything. In the past few years I have been so caught up in my own brain that I am a nervous wreck and don’t even joy barrel racing because of it. Solo has taught me to let everything go. You don’t pick things out in life that make you unhappy. You choose things that you can’t live without, that bring a burning passion, and the biggest smile to your face while you are reaching your goals.
Between the lessons I have received from Rocky and Solo, my trip with Hussey has been nothing shy of incredible this year. I finally was able to fight my way through some things I have been wanting to change with her. In the past few months I felt like she was finally ready to hit the road and start running at new arenas. Because of the confidence I have gained this season, I have been able to pass that on to her. She is one of the most incredible horses I have been privilaged to swing a leg over and I have been terrified to not do her justice. My new outlook and happiness that has been brought back to me has really made the difference for her. It’s hard to not be a perfectionist when teaching these horses their jobs. Just like in life, you have to allow for mistakes to happen and help them through it. In helping them, I have found myself again in all of this chaos. I don’t care anymore what others think because they can only see what’s in front of them, not the entire story and what we have gone through. Instead of being embarrassed when something goes wrong at a show, I always find the positives in the situation now. This season isn’t over for Hussey and I. I plan to haul to shows this winter and continue my learning. Next year I am so excited that I will be able to have a whole new outlook on my career, the next group of horses that will be coming in, and I hope I am able to start helping others work through their own battles.