I remember the first time I ever thought about barrel racing at a professional level. I was about 12 or 13 years old and my cousin handed me a weathered copy of Women’s Pro Rodeo News from the baseboard of her truck. At the time it was not the glossy print magazine that it is today. It was a newspaper, with torn edges and rodeos circled with pen. I had never been so excited. It was the first time that I had ever looked at the newspaper and read about the champions of that day. The entry information for the scheduled rodeos seemed like a road map for the path that I wanted to take in my life. The opportunities seemed endless and just what I wanted to advance from the Playdays and Jr. Rodeos I had attended since I was 8. What I didn’t know, was that it was going to be a lot harder to get started let alone be successful in this sport.
I wasn’t really born into a rodeo or horse family. My cousin (more like my aunt) ran barrels and my grandfather owned race horses, but for the most part we were “Beach” people. Despite the trips to the beach, sun bathing and walking “the strand”, (a long walkway along the Southern California Coast), I loved horses and everything having to do with horses. Even to this day when I go the beach, it just looks like a great place to long trot.
In the late 90’s (when I was in my teens) the Women’s Professional Rodeo Association changed the minimum age for a contestant to 18, putting pressure on me to make a decision on becoming a member or not. I knew the rule was going into effect and despite not really having a plan to rodeo or a horse that was truly competitive, I bought my first WPRA Permit at 15 and was grandfathered into the association despite the age change. Applying for a permit was not as easy as it is today. Email was something new and they still used hard paper applications that you sent with your birth certificate, a head shot and the appropriate fee. For those of you that don’t know, “filling your permit” is the first step to becoming a “card holder” in the Women’s Professional Rodeo Association. You must win $1,000 on your permit before you are eligible to get a “card.” Some people may say that if you want “to be somebody” in this sport, you must have a “card.”
So here is my confession, that I’m neither proud of nor ashamed of either.
It took me nearly 20 years to fill my permit.
Yes, 20 years!
Not one day goes by that I don’t realize that even on the days I didn’t win money (and there were a lot of them) that I didn’t learn something. I also know this learning process is far from over, nor will it ever be.
You see, some girls who have a lot of money backing them, the grace of a great horse and perfect timing (or any one of those things) have a lot of us girls banging our heads up against a wall. The fact is that they make it look so easy. I’m not holding anything against them. There is one thing about the clock…. and it’s that it doesn’t care how much you paid for your horse and all of your equipment, truck and trailer, we all lose the same.
It’s just, that it can a be a lot to swallow when you are that girl, that one girl who wants nothing more than to just reach this benchmark in your professional career and keep hitting roadblocks and adversity. It’s funny because you are more likely to hear about the girl who filled it in one weekend than you are to hear about the girl who took years. It’s almost like something that no one talks about. A friend of mine and I were talking at a rodeo last weekend and we just racked it up to when God wants it, he’ll make it happen and funny thing was…. that once I accepted this fact, that is when I started winning money.
So…. Here’s a look at the 20 year path… not recommended, but completely worth it.
1996 Bought a permit and didn’t go to one rodeo.
1997-1999 Bought a permit, no money won. Went to maybe 15 rodeos total over the 3 years.
2000, I won my first Rodeo Check at California Rodeo Salinas with a borrowed truck, trailer and horse…. but it didn’t count because it was a Temporary Permit. Temporary Permits were a fraction of the cost of a national permit. You were allowed to go to 5 rodeos a year, but none of the earnings counted towards your national permit. The borrowed horse that I rode was sold after showing she could hang with the “toughs.”
2001 No permit bought.
2002 Didn’t win any money, maybe went to 5 rodeos.
2003 Placed at a rodeo on a 5 year old that I trained and won some money at WPRA approved barrel races
2004 Placed at WPRA approved barrel races, ran the same horse as the previous year, but he was diagnosed with permanent joint disease late in the season.
2005-2011 Did not buy a permit
2012 Bought permit, but no money won. Was one hole out of the money at one rodeo by 1 hundredth of a second, riding a 5 year old that I trained.
2013 Placed at a rodeo splitting the last hole, earning $34 on one of the horses that I trained in 2011.
2014 Placed at WPRA approved races on a client’s horse that I trained.
2015 Placed at WPRA approved races to fill my permit on a 4 year old futurity horse.
Now, some may say, “who cares if you do or don’t fill your WPRA permit?”, but it was something that I’ve wanted to accomplish and I expected to do it a lot sooner than I did. In the time that I was attempting to fill my permit, I finished high school, graduated from college, started a career, and moved and lived in three different states. I know there are others out there that feel like they are the only ones struggling, but I promise you, you aren’t.
I thought long and hard about writing this post and I figured that most people would find this more comical than inspiring, but just in case there is one other person out there who needs to know that there are others struggling with meeting this benchmark, well then I figure it was worth it.
You will want to give up a million times and you will question why you are trying so hard, but as long as you feel it in your heart, keep getting up every morning and going to work.
I promise you won’t regret it.
Every six months or so I have to face the stack of empty supplement buckets in my feed room. I hate throwing them away because it seems like such a waste and every once in a while someone asks if I have a bucket and I always feel like a super hero when I say, “Yes, I do! I’ll be right back” and I return with the bucket in hand. But after a while, they stack up and they are taken out to the curb to be picked up.
I’ve always wanted a garden although I don’t know if I can actually grow anything. I have horses covered, I know how to keep those alive, but plants well I’ve just never tried. After pinning two years worth of garden ideas, I’ve come to the conclusion that a container garden may be the perfect match for me. After all I have all these buckets…. So today I took the first step to repurposing the supplement buckets and seeing if I have any sort of green thumb!
The old potatoe sacks I bought at a junk show that came to town for the weekend, but I got the idea after seeing a stack of them while at a farm supply store in Ft. Smith, Arkansas when I was up there for the Old Fort Days Futurity. Since I bought them from the junk show the gal had tied them with raffia which added a nice finishing touch to the buckets. I had to cut the sacks down the back and the middle to fit around the bucket. I think the ones I bought were smaller bags. When I went to go buy the plants at Home Depot they had roles of weed barrier with no color that were made out of the same material for a fraction of the price.
I drilled holes in the bottom because that seemed like something that I should do.
Ta da!!! All done!
You may be a Basic Barrel Racer, if you are guilty of any of the following statements…
#1 You’ve ever taken a picture of a Starbucks Coffee with your horse trailer in the background.
#2 You’ve ever cleaned stalls in Victoria Secret Pink anything.
#3 You’ve ever posted a picture of an inspirational quote about “struggle” in your $100,000 horse trailer
#4 You’ve ever posted a picture of a blown tire trailer
#5 You’ve broken up with a guy because he didn’t understand why you spent so much money on your horse
#6 You’ve posted a picture of your truck parked and patted yourself on the back for doing such a good job.
#7 You’ve ever referred to yourself as a gypsy.
#8 You make fun of your friends who are getting married and having kids
#9 Your number one go to excuse is, “I’m living the Dream!”
#10 You’ve ever posted any barrel racing videos that start with the words, “I’m so proud,” “I’m so excited,” or “I can’t believe.”
I’m definitely guilty of a few of these… If you can’t laugh at yourself, who can you laugh at?
When the Racer’s Edge show about barrel racing debuted several weeks ago on RFDTV I made sure that my DVR was set to record. The first episode which featured the ups and downs of life with Sherry Cervi was intriguing and compelling. I was excited to see the inside story, but a little disappointed to find that most of the show was from an interview that was released by Classic Equine months (maybe even a year) before. Having said that, it was still very touching, realistic and authentic and I know that not everyone has seen the Cervi interview in which she talks about the struggle of losing her husband Mike Cervi in a tragic plane wreck.
Since then I have watched several more of the episodes and I wanted to wait and watch a couple more before I wrote a review. As many of you know, I’m a advocate of anything that promotes the sport of barrel racing, even to the point that I have given more than generous reviews of shows like Texas Women and Rodeo Girls.
By far, Racer’s Edge is the best barrel racing show out there to date! In the beginning I was worried that the girls wouldn’t tell the real stories of life on the road, but was very happy to see that was not the case. I have to give Jordan (Peterson) Briggs credit for telling the story about how she left her two dogs at a gas station in Wyoming and wasn’t able to get one of them back for several weeks after a long exhaustive search. This is real life. If you’ve ever hauled late nights and long hours you know that it’s very easy to do. I can’t tell you how many times I have turned around to look in my backseat to make sure my dog was there and I don’t haul nearly as much as these girls.
So far the “Pets” episode is one of my favorites, yes I know, it’s not about barrel racing, but it’s about these barrel racers’ lives and their pets are a very large part of it. If you don’t believe it, believe me, I’ve had a hauling partner late to pick me up because she decided to stop and get her dogs some tater tots at Sonic. What I think people need to remember also is that you have to look at this show for the little stuff that you are going to pick up. For example, the little mention that Sherry gave about placement of her curb strap on her bridle. A person would normally have to pay a hefty lesson fee to have something like that brought up. It may seem like something small, but if you have ever paid for lessons or clinics you know that it’s not the whole weekend or lesson that you pay for, it’s the handful of tips and tools that you go home with. Also, the emotional recap of Jana Bean’s first NFR experience and Lisa Lockhart’s testimony of what is takes to be a winning barrel racer were among the highlights of that episode.
The exercise and physical fitness episode was refreshing because I’ve noticed over the years that the people that win and consistently are in the winners circle take this seriously and they hold themselves and their horses to the same standard. I know that in other forums people have brought up the fact that Ryann Pedone said that she started her exercise regimen because she felt like she wasn’t as athletic as some of the other barrel racers. I met Ryann for the first time in 2010 and I can tell you the girl is athletic as all get out. She can probably ride up over a horse more balanced than most and I’m always amazed how she can stay two handed nearly to the back side of a barrel and never get pitched forward. What is amazing about Ryann is her humble spirit.
1. Chayni Chamberlin 13.907
2. Carmel Wright 14.005
3. Lindsey McCloud 14.040
4. Jane Melby 14.066
5. Callahan Crossley 14.090
6. Jackie Jatzlau 14.104
7. Destri Davenport 14.134
8. Shelly Anzick 14.153
9. Sharin Hall 14.229
10. Adeline Nevala 14.242
Tonight will seal the deal on who makes it back to The American Rodeo at Cowboy’s Stadium in Arlington on March 1, 2015, making these contestants one step closer to a chance at winning a Million dollars. So far, out of 115 contestants that competed in the original slack go of The American Semi-Finals, there are only 10 left to run out of the top 30. The top ten out of the Shootout round will then advance to The American and compete against the top 10 from the NFR.
This format is the most exciting out there today. It gives barrel racers a chance at big time money who may not have an opportunity to run in the WPRA/PRCA. This format also allows kids and men to compete opening up the opportunity to even more contestants. The best part of this rodeo, along with the large sum of money up for grabs is that we are basically betting the favorites (NFR crowd) that they can’t beat the underdogs (Qualifiers)… and who doesn’t love a long shot?
But it’s not that simple and don’t think for a second that these Qualifiers aren’t having to go through the ringer for the opportunity at running at this money. Also, I’m pretty hard pressed to say that the qualifiers are long shots. The qualifier pool is made up of some of the best barrel racers and barrel horses in the world, World Champions, Futurity Champions, Youth Champions and in some of their cases… a lot….a lot of money.
The qualifier’s journey started by paying a $500 entry fee at one of the (11) qualifier races that were held across the country. At that race they had to end up in the top ten to qualify for the semi-finals. The semifinals which are happening now in Ft. Worth, Texas started with a slack round of all of the qualifiers from across the country. Each person gets one run and to advance to the next round (shootout) they had to end up in the top 30 of the 115. The top 30 were then split up into 3 performances of 10 each. After that run (the last performance this evening Sunday 2/22), the top 10 advance to The American Rodeo in Dallas. Once at The American they will run against the top 10 from the NFR. Everyone will get one run and the top four then make it to the Final Round to run for a clean slate. There are also two exemptions that will be allowed to run.
So now that I have you thoroughly confused you, it breaks down to this: The top 10 NFR girls are going to show up and compete against the Top 10 Qualifiers who have made 3 runs of their life (assuming that they only went to one qualifier which is not the case for most of these contestants, a good size group went to at least two). The champion will win $100,000 and the reserve champion will win $25,000. In the case that the champion came from the Qualifiers, they will place themselves in a pot for the chance to win $1,000,000.
Right now the Semi-Finals is being led by 9 year old Chayni Chamberlain on a grey gelding with a time of 13.907. Dat Flowin Bunny is a consistent horse that has been ridden by 3 generations of ladies, Chayni, Chayni’s Mother and Grandmother. Chayni has a direct advantage with her size and also her innocence. You can tell by the young girls glow and spirit that she is out to have fun and soak “it” all in, the Million Dollars is an after thought. The fact that she weighs 50-100 lbs lighter than an average adult barrel racer is helping her. On the flip side, she doesn’t have the experience that these other contestants have, but her consistent horse with a million dollar heart may not even make that a contributing factor.
The following contestants are headed into tonight’s round: Steffani Mather, Megan Swint, Tana Poppino, Kathy Grimes, LaTricia Duke, Taylor Jacob, Kelsie Miller, Jacie Etbauer, Sharin Hall, and Joy Wargo
The top 10 after two performances are:
Chayni Chamberlain 13.907, Carmel Wright 14.005, Lindsey McCloud 14.040, Jane Melby 14.066, Callahan Crossley 14.090, Jackie Jatzlau 14.104, Destri Davenport 14.134, Shelly Anzick 14.153, Adeline Nevala 14.242, Sabre O’Quinn 14.271
RFDTV Sunday, January 22nd 1:00 pm EST | The American Semi-Finals Round Two
RFDTV Sunday, January 22nd 3:00 pm EST | The American Semi-Finals Round Three
I know a lot of you gals are dreaming of Texas. I know I used to, but I don’t have to anymore because I moved here 5 years ago. It was the best decision I ever made other than going to college and falling in love with barrel racing. I’ve also lived in Colorado and New Mexico and I can say there really is nothing like this state.
If you ever move here, I want to help you with your transition so I’ve provided you this list in an effort to help you not stick out when you finally make the big move.
#1 Don’t say “y’all”! It never comes out natural and you will never sound like a Texan when you say it. I’m not saying that you should go around screaming that you are an outsider, just know that “y’all” doesn’t flow well with “like” and “you guys.” You can add a drawl to your “bye” and “oil” and no one will know the difference.
#2 Gravy in Texas is like Guacamole is in California. You don’t need an excuse to put it on anything and if you can make it from scratch and make it taste delicious, then you will be an instant celebrity.
#3 No one here knows what a thigh gap is….. This is a perfect and wonderful thing.
#4 They are called exhibitions not time-onlies and if you want one you better start standing in line at the entry office at least two hours before it opens.
#5 Hay is called Hay and Grain is called Feed. Everyone “Feeds” twice a day and that includes grain.
#6 Hay is mostly two stranded and you will curse a three strand bale after you realize how much easier it is to move a smaller bale.
#7 Hot is considered anything over 95. Cold is considered anything under 60. Get used to it.
#8 Ice is worse than snow.
#9 You will need approximately 3 head of horses if you want to go to every barrel race within a 50 miles radius.
#10 Summer is tire blowing season. Get your tires checked in the spring and learn how to change your own tires.