Photos courtesy of Ivan McClellan for The Undefeated.……

Kortnee Solomon is a fourth-generation Texas cowgirl. Her mother is 11-time invitational champion, Kanesha Jackson, and her father is Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association tie-down roper, Cory Solomon. Her grandmother, Stephanie Haynes, is an 18-time invitational champion who also serves on the Bill Pickett Invitational Rodeo board. Her late grandfather was Sedgwick Haynes, who served as general manager of the Rodeo before his passing. 

Kanesha Jackson, Stephanie Haynes, Kortnee Solomon.

The 11-year-old is already making a name for herself, first competing at the Bill Pickett Rodeo when she was just 5-years-old. Since then, she has won several championships, participating in the Ladies’ Barrel Racing and Junior Breakaway Roping events. The Bill Pickett Invitational is one of the oldest Black-owned rodeo circuits in the nation. They partnered with The PBR to produce the Showdown in Vegas this year, where Kortnee participated and made history alongside the other cowboys and cowgirls, becoming the first nationally televised Black Rodeo. 

For Kortnee, it’s not just about mastering her technique but also about dedication, perseverance, and a celebration of community, culture, and heritage. She and her mom take care of their horses on their property in Hempstead, Texas, feeding, grooming, training, and of course, riding them. Her mom, Kanesha, says, “We have a great relationship with the horses, it’s almost like we talk to them, and they talk to us. It’s very much like people and their dogs. All the horses have their own unique personality – some are laid-back, some are very outgoing.”

The rodeo season usually lasts about May through September, with at least one event a weekend. The family usually spends their time on the road, connecting with their rodeo family. Despite Kortnee’s commitment to the sport, her mother said it’s still important that her daughter has a normal childhood. She says, “I want Kortnee to live through her own purpose. She loves horses, but she also does dance, gymnastics, cheerleading, and basketball. I want her to experience everything, so she doesn’t feel like she missed out during her childhood.”

It was an extremely exciting milestone in the association’s 37 year timeline. Keep your eyes out for more Bill Picket Rodeo events to be televised in the years to come!