Name: Mikayla Barber
Pursuit: Trick Riding and Liberty Horse Performing
Mikayla Barber aspires to be the best Australian trick-rider and liberty horse performer of all time. She hopes to develop her own shows where she dances with horses at liberty, entertaining crowds by singing whilst riding without bridle or saddle and then thrill them with adrenaline pumping trick-riding performances. Mikayla and her family have suffered considerable hardship having been plagued with floods and the struggle of serious family illness which has been a significant financial burden on the family. She has been offered to train with multi-award champion trick rider, liberty performer and renowned stuntman Tad Griffiths in America. It means a lot to Mikayla and her family to receive this grant and to be able to afford this specialised training towards realising her full potential.
When did you start?
I saw the national trick riding team Girls, Girls, Girls performing at the Brisbane Exhibition when I was six years old. I turned to my parents then and said, “I’m going to be in that team one day.” and my mum responded, “Well you’d better learn to ride a horse first.” A couple of months later, after a lot of nagging, my parents finally bought me my first pony. When I was ten my parents had been searching online and came across an add for a trick riding clinic in Sydney. Looking further into it they saw that it was run by Heath Harris who founded the Girls, Girls, Girls Extreme Stunt Team. My parents bought me a place in the clinic for my Christmas present and I absolutely fell in love with trick riding! I’ve been doing it ever since!
Career highlight or biggest achievement?
It's hard to pick just one but performing at last years Calgary Stampede was definitely a highlight. Everything went off perfectly. The horses flew, the crowds were huge and the adrenaline pumping. I nailed my hardest trick, the Backbend, on Klyde the beautiful clydesdale cross that I'd only ridden for 1 week before the Stampede. It was GREAT! Being the first and only person in Australian history to perform the backbend was a great achievement that I will never forget. Mum says that there aren’t many things that you can be an Australian first at. Also completing grade 12 last year two years ahead of my peers has been very exciting and I am grateful that I’m out! It gives me more time to work with my horses.
What is your dream?
My dream is to become one of the best Australian trick riders and liberty horse performers of all time. My goal is to develop my own shows where I dance with horses at liberty, entertain crowds by singing whilst riding without bridle or saddle and then thrill them with adrenaline pumping trick-riding performances.
Who or what have inspired you?
Who's your hero?
So many. Tad Griffiths- who is a multiple world champion and fourth generation trick rider and stuntman from Los Angeles, Nikki Flundra- who is an amazing Canadian trick-rider who has had a successful professional career for over 20 years now, Jerri Duce- who had a professional trick-riding career for over 50 years and also performed my signature trick,” the backbend” until she was 55 years old and Australias own master horseman Heath Harris because they are such incredible trick-riders/liberty horse trainers and I have been lucky enough to work with them all.
Any other special talents?
Well, I completed year 12 two years ahead of my peers but I have no desire to go to university - I just want to perform. I have been singing and dancing since I was 3 and am currently a full time dance student at Conroy Performing Arts College. I play guitar, some violin, piano and write some songs. I have a cert 2 in workplace practices, am nearly finished a cert 3 in sport coaching equestrian and have completed a cert 4 in Music. I am also doing modelling.
Lots - Pop, Rock and some country.
PIRATES OF THE CARRIBEAN !!! (The whole Series) I love Johnny Depp and any films by Jerry Bruckheimer.
Favourite TV Show?
How the grant will help you/how will you use the money?
The grant will help me to continue my trick-riding training and Liberty horse work both here and overseas.I would use the funds towards airfares and training in Los Angeles with Tad Griffiths, hopefully also returning to Canada on the same trip to work with Jerri Duce and Niki Flundra and towards my ongoing dance training here in Australia. Possibly also towards the cost of flights back and forward to Sydney where I train with Heath Harris. All so exciting. Thank-you sooo much.
Last words: Quote or Motto you live by?
“Never, Never, Never Give Up!” “ If you want it, You’ve gotta want it bad enough” and “Just Do It, Do It Now!!”