Hundreds of Hearts Breaking…

January 29th, 2012 in Glen Rose, Texas is a day I will never forget. I’m sure several hundred other people will agree with me.

It was on this day, that Karen Wyatt headed down the alley on her black gelding Dashton aka Ash, like she had done many times before. He headed into the Glen Rose Expo Arena with his ears perked and at full attention. Getting a stride away from the first barrel, he rated beautifully with his nose tipped to the inside, positioned perfectly to make what could have been a perfect turn. Instead, the crowd heard a pop that sounded almost like an overreach, but was as loud as a rifle. He took several more strides, trying to complete the turn and the job he was sent into the arena to do. The crowd gasped and yelled, as Karen tried frantically to pull him up and get off of him. While he hobbled on three legs, she hung half way off of him with her foot stuck in the stirrup. Someone from the crowd, yelled for a barrel setter in the arena to help her. Several people came to her aid. The music was turned off, all talking in the arena turned to a whisper. The loudest thing heard were the hundreds of hearts breaking all at once.

I can’t imagine what she is going through. I don’t know if I would ever be able to bounce back from something this tragic. I love this sport and we all know that accidents happen, but I just can’t even imagine. So many awful things happen in this lifetime and we don’t know why they happen to us or for that matter why they even happen at all. There was no bad step that I could see, the ground was safe, he was in the right position. Of all of the conditions that “could have been” I wouldn’t have thought that this could have ever happened to anyone at this race.

We take chances, every time we get in our car, get on our horse, or make a decision on any given day. We try to prevent everything we can from going wrong and yet still we have no power when it comes to these types of outcomes. Life is precious. I think that is why it is so important that we do what we love and love what we do. Because in an instant, it could be over. I have yet to run into a stronger group of people than barrel racers, they are hard working people with kind hearts. They always seem to bounce back and they are a true reflection of a true America. Stories of their perserverance are around every corner. I’ve had to tell myself in the past that barrel racing is not what defines me, which I believe is still very true. However, I can not deny that most barrel racers can be defined in a certain way. They are strong, dedicated, compassionate, loving and hard working. It is with this in mind that I can’t imagine ever NOT bouncing back from a tragedy like this.

15 year old Dashton (Ash) stood there patiently in the arena as they took his saddle off and splinted his leg up. He was under the immediate care of two vets within minutes of the accident happening. A large stock trailer was pulled into the arena and he was loaded up. The x-rays showed that his hock was shattered. Karen made one of the hardest decisions there is to make in life and put him down. She hauled him home and buried him this morning.

I hope she finds comfort in knowing there are hundreds, if not thousands, of people who are shedding tears and thinking about her today. I hope she finds comfort in knowing that.

Karen is in the first row, 2nd from the left with the brown shirt on.

Karen and Ash ran in the Texas Senior Pro Rodeo Association this last summer and fall, finishing Reserve Champion for the year end. Friends say that they have never seen Karen happier on a horse. The Jurassic Classic producers gave Karen the Julie Swanson memorial buckle that was going to be given to the fastest time for the weekend. Wow, I can’t wait to get to heaven. We’re going to have one heck of a barrel race someday!

“….I risk my life every time I climb on a horse. I’m not afraid. Neither are they. I want to win, just like they do. It’s true. The last horse I rode ran so hard his heart burst. But it’s who they are. And it’s who I am.” –(movie) Ronnie Turcotte, Secretariat


  1. I can’t even find the words to say” I was there on this tragic day this took place. With my 14 yr old daughter who saw an heard it snap! And at that very moment she started to pray! For her and the horse. God give her peace and understanding of the things we can not change. She didn’t run that day, she was there just too watch” as mom what can one say” but I’m so sorry! That happen its was his time and God has a calling on every living thing he creates.
    Are hearts are heavy! But we keep you, in our prayers!

  2. So sorry for your tragic loss but what a marvelous tribute this was to be written for you and your brave beautiful horse. And yes my heart broke into a million pieces for you. May God wrap you in his arms. I have been the veterinarian in several of these disasters and they never get easier. In fact, they get harder to be a part of because with each one I am more and more impressed by the fact that we all take our equine athletes for granted and expect super-human and super-equine effort every weekend. They need all of the love and pampering we can give them because they give us their all…even if it means losing their life to please us.

  3. My heart go out to you. I have a 25 + y/o gelding that I have put out to pasture with a penile disorder that is not curable or treatable He is living happy and will until God calls him home God bless you.

  4. So sorry for your loss!! its a very tough thing! They are such a big part of our familys and are very missed! God be with you!! Prayers… !!

    Wings of Faith!!

  5. So So Sorry for your loss. God has called home an exceptional horse to cross the rainbow bridge. He will have a place of loving peace while waiting to be reunited with you. Take care and God Bless You!!!

  6. I am a client and friend of Cindy Dietz, over the past year we’ve had plenty of discussions about barrel racing and the women she competes against. Today was the story of a woman and her horse, a discussion that began with tears and ended with the passion of the 16 seconds they shared every week.

    I hope your back riding soon Karen, God Bless

  7. it breaks my heart when something like this happens,my thoughts and prayers are with her I know what it’s like to lose a beloved horse

  8. Miss Wyatt, you have our most heartfelt sympathies and prayers. You still have all those cherished memories, and I’m sure Ash will be waiting across the Rainbow bridge, with St. Francis when your time to rejoin is at hand.

    Bliss and blessings to you and yours, in all things, always

  9. I’m so sorry to hear about Ash! Many prayers are going up for you today. I don’t know what I’d do without my best friends. God bless him and his huge heart and bless you too for doing what you needed to do. He’ll be waiting for you and y’all will turn and burn one day again soon.

  10. This happened to one off my best friends at Yuma rodeo about 3 years ago. Mud was leaving the first barrel when it happened, and he tried to run to the second on three legs. The Honeycutt rodeo guys were so helpful, especially the bullfighter. Unfortunately the vet who was on stand by was not a large animal vet and it was very frustrating. His hock was shattered, and we had to put him down there. We then hauled his body back to California to bury him. He was the greatest horse I have ever had the pleasure of knowing. So talented and had already won big events in his short life.
    I am so sorry for your loss and I wish you the best of luck.

  11. So Sorry to hear about this Karen. Ash will surely be missed at the Senior Pros this coming year. It was awesome to watch the two of you compete. May God bless you and give you peace.

  12. People who do not have this kind of love for or relationship with an animal will NEVER understand. The love is pure and unconditional. This isn’t like dog fighting where an animal fights to the death for fear or loyalty to a human. This is a shared bond between two hearts. And those hearts beat together for the thrill, the joy and the love of the sport, the game or the moment that they are in.A oneness that they alone share in that moment in time.I was never a barrel racer.But I have spent many a mile on the back of a noble beast with a dog sitting on my horses rump or running along side.Nothing compares!

  13. Karen…
    You are in our thoughts & parayers.
    We asked that God guide you through…this terrible time.
    You & Ash had a very remarkable year last year…winning reserve champion for the year end in the Texas Senior Pro Rodeo Association.
    You two would have been the team to beat this coming year at the TSPRA. Hold on to those precious memories as God gives you strength to hold ur head high…your heart to the Lord and he will make you strong & give you tgat Peace you need. May you always be a Champion & Rest in Peace…”ASH”

  14. I know all to well how it feels to lose a “family member”. We had to have our big grey barrel horse put down in 2009 and it was the hardest thing we ever had to do. He was 29 yrs old and we had him since he was 2. My heart and prayers go out to you. Heaven is made for horses and barrel racers. God watches over both.

  15. This is the worst thing ever having to put down a beloved friend..My prayers are with the family. Ash will be greatly missed and loved always. Now Ash may run free as a wild horse up in heaven. With the wind in his face and mane. And the cool green pastures beneath its feet.

  16. So sorry to hear about your beloved Ash. As a couple people have said, he will be waiting for you at the Rainbow Bridge and you will once again be one together. Turn and burn girl……..prayers go out to you from Montana.

  17. How devastating this had to be. I know the love that one feels for their horse & can understand the sadness & emptyiness one feels when we loose them. My heart & prayers are with you. Jan Lambert

  18. From Ludes Cornerstone Farm, Belmont-Ohio, We send our Condolences and our thoughts go to you and Ash.

  19. I am so sorry for your loss. I am inserting a poem that my daughter wrote in memory of her beloved barrel horse Roaney, who she lost two weeks ago. He was in great health and running better than ever and as she went into the turn and the 3rd, his heart burst and he went down and died right there. My daughter is heartbroken so I do know the pain you are going through right now. She referred to Roaney as her best friend. You are in our prayers and I hope this poem brings you some comfort because I think it is how we all feel about our horses.

    You came to me 7 years ago and
    I knew right from the start,
    That you were the perfect horse for me
    I felt it in my heart!

    You were so amazing
    You always gave me your all,
    You gave me my confidence
    You made me feel 10 feet tall!

    You had such a personality
    You loved to put on your show,
    Prancing down the alley way
    Head held high and ready to go!

    You did everything I ask of you
    You never let me down,
    You were such a joy to ride
    So fun to be around!

    It will be so hard to run without you
    So hard to believe that you are gone,
    But I know I must move forward,
    And for you I will go on!

    I won’t let your death be in vain
    You helped me be who I am today,
    You made me see my future dreams,
    You helped me find my way!

    I loved you so much and you loved me
    You took care of me in every way,
    You always protected me,
    You even saved my life,
    On that tragic, final day.

    You came to me a winner
    Doing what you loved to do,
    Then you left the very same way,
    Always faithful and so true!

    So no matter where I run from here
    No matter what horse I ride,
    I will always think of you
    Your spirit will be by my side!

    So for now I must say goodbye
    And until we meet again,
    Roaney, I love you and I will never forget you,
    My faithful champion, my buddy, my best friend!

    1. Thank you for sharing this wonderful poem. I hope Ash and Roaney meet in heaven. I can’t wait to see him again. I’m very sorry for your daughters loss as well. I know how devasting that was for her. Trust in the Lord, he has a plan for her too.
      God Bless,
      Karen Wyatt

  20. Karen, you and Ash have been in my thoughts since January 29th and I pray each night that God’s grace will make each day a little easier for you. Please keep in your heart the knowledge that God does not close one door with out opening another. I know it’s hard to think about when you have a big hole in your heart but I know God has a plan for you. You are a brave and admired woman. Sandy Rogers

    1. Love you Sandy! Can’t wait to see you at TSPRA. I may be on my stick horse steed, but I will be there.
      God Bless,

  21. Dear Friends,
    There are no words that can express the gratitude I have for each of you for the outpouring of love, prayers and encouragement. How lucky am I to be a member of such a wonderful family. I am so overwhelmed at the response of love and concern. Your words have kept me lifted and have touched my heart. I have found peace in knowing that it is God’s plan. I am trusting in Him to show me my path from here.
    I will never forget that day. Not just the devastation of the accident and the loss of my beloved great horse Ash, but all those that went out of their way, some even out of their comfort zone, to help me and my equine partner. It was if God had all his little Angels lined up waiting and when it happened, no one hesitated for a moment, they just took over, knew what to do and did it. It was truly amazing.
    I want to thank Stacy Jerrett for presenting me with the Julie Swanson Memorial buckle in memory of a truly great woman and my great horse, Dashton (Ash). It will forever be very special to me.
    I would like to especially thank Dr. Taraba, Dr. Howell, Dr. Price, Stacey Jerrett and staff, Somerville Expo staff, Ronelle and Glen Schneider, Kelly and Spike Weaver, CJ Chapman, Russel Fairchild and I know there are so many more that I didn’t either know or were unaware of in that arena. Please know I am forever gratiful to you.

    May God Bless you all as He has Blessed me with your friendships.

    With much love and gratitude,
    Karen Wyatt

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