Barrel Racing, Rodeo

Round 1 Analysis: Know Thy Horse

The purpose of this post is not to criticize the girls running at the NFR, but rather it is a collection of my observations as I watch the round. I am a firm believer that a competitor can learn something from anyone and just about everything and who better to learn from than the top fifteen in the world?! So keep in mind that this is my opinion, not necessarily what the reality is as I am not the one riding these horses nor have I ran down the alley of the T&M.

One thing I believe we can learn from these girls is that you must know your horse when making top caliber runs. I can see this in how each girl handles her horse in the alleyway, not every horse is going to hunt that first barrel even when being sent from the back forty and some horses might not fire if they are held back in the alley; it all comes down to the horse’s style and how each rider responds to them.

This is what separates great jockeys from the rest; they can read their horse and adjust their ride accordingly. This doesn’t mean just in the alley, but going into first, keeping the horses off second and third (because, face it, it is tight in the T&M) and pushing their horse out of the alleyway and through those timers.

It is important that you know your horse and do your job in regards to that horse. Just because Sally Blueribbon sends her horse from the back of parking lot does not mean that is what you need to do in your run. Sally might win lots but she is not you, and her horse is not your horse. Do what works for you!

Here are my notes on the round one runs:

  • Mary Burger (riding Mo) rides really aggressive and trusts him on the first barrel while staying out of his way on the other two barrels.
  • Jackie (On R) really kept two hands on the reins going into first to keep his frame (I think, it is hard to really know what is going on) and she does this on second barrel also.
  • Mary Walker (on Latte) really makes him mind her legs in the alleyway before sending him and she lets him do his job on the pattern.
  • Ivy Conrado (On Tibby) had a tough go, it happens, but it looks like she really tries to stay with (or ahead) of Tibby on the backside of the turns.
  • Kimmie Wall (On Foxy) really sits centred on her mare while hustling her in that tight building.
  • Stevi Hillman (on Martini) had trouble on first but Stevi rode really aggressive between the other barrels and kept that mare between her hands. The angle to first barrel is really tough and I think the horses that are having trouble in the first few rounds will get it figured out.
  • Lisa and Louie were clean and smooth. She really trusts Louie and I think that comes from knowing Louie’s style and being in that set up before.
  • Sarah Rose (on Bling) really knows her horse and how to successfully jockey this mare. I am really excited to see what this duo will do in later rounds!
  • Michele McLeod (on Slick) really clocked tonight! She really rides this horse well and I’m sure we’ll see some round wins with Slick this year.
  • Cayla (I’m not sure of her horse’s name) rode aggressive and I’m sure this duo will crack out some nice runs in later rounds.
  • Pamela (on Jessy) had a beautiful first barrel after sending this mare from deep in the alleyway. This mare is honest and I’m excited to see what they’ll do.
  • Sherry Cervi proves, again and again, why she is so successful. She never quit riding Arson through the turns. She reacts to every move he makes and responds in a way that doesn’t hinder his run.
  • Carly and Radio had a beautiful first barrel. Radio looked tight in the T&M but she rode aggressive and kept ahead of him.
  • Jana Bean (on Steel Magnolias) stayed really quiet in the alleyway and made the bay mare listen before she sent her to first barrel. They had three beautiful turns and an overall nice run.
  • Amberleigh Moore (on Paige) had a smooth run and it looked like she kept the mare between her hands through out the run.

Notice how not one of these ladies had the exact same run and notice how they rode their horses differently because every horse is different. Instead of squawking about starfishing and chicken wings, why don’t we appreciate what these ladies accomplished to get where they are and how well their techniques work for them. It might not look pretty, they might make mistakes, but so do we (ours are usually not on national television or under the microscope of social media). So let’s be kind and enjoy the show!


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