There was a time I rode a seasoned barrel horse. His name was Tonto Three Jets, and he was faster than sin. He was the ultimate barrel horse deluxe, and he was trained my someone else. He was pulled out of retirement specifically for me by a family friend when my own barrel horse was killed in a freak accident midway through my racing season. After only half a racing season we were riding high in the points and placed in the top two in all of our events.
After four seasons together my beloved Tonto was officially retired to the pastures of Mockingbird Hill Farm. At the ripe age of 25 years Tonto went home to Gods green pastures. He taught me what a blistering fast, truly competitive barrel horse feels like. But then there was a lot he didn’t teach me, like how to train said wonder horse.
So there I was once again rowing the same boat; I had no horse and a looming race season ahead. It was a cold day in December when I met my next wonder horse and partner. He was severely underweight, had abscesses in his feet, and sores on his body. My Grandma found him at a sale barn and saw the potential under that mess.
Country Magic Man a six year old thoroughbred came home to Mockingbird Hill for recovery. Several days passed and we cleared up one problem after another, malnutrition, bad feet, bad teeth, and so many other trials. By the beginning of spring we were all starting to see the gallant powerhouse of a horse that my Grandma had seen all along. He was magnificent.
And then when the weather began to break to spring we started our training. We rode miles and miles. We ran drills and practiced our patterns hundreds of times. We went to clinics, we watched ourselves on videos, we worked with my mom, my grandma, my friend and fellow barrel racer Amber, we spent an enormous amount of time to make him a fairly seasoned barrel horse. He was the first and only horse I have truly patterned on barrels myself. All the hours we put into training payed off. We had several successful seasons and he always brought his a game to races.
Of course when I reminisce about Magic I usually remember the victories, the feel good moments we rode high on adrenaline. It has only been recently that I am reminded of all the training and hard work we went through. The literal blood, sweat, and tears we put in to be successful as a team. After sixteen years of partnership with Magic, I said goodbye. My faithful boy took his last breaths on the HK Bar one cold winter day with his head in my lap. 22 years young he told me it was time he was galloping on into the next life. And I silently pleaded with him that if he must go, that he please send me a good partner to help fill his horse shoes.
Two years later now I find myself on a new journey with my quarter horse, Shakira JLO “Jo”. I am once again on the road to patterning a horse on barrels from scratch. I am reminded once again what it takes to be a successful team. It’s hard. It’s hours of getting it wrong, its dozens of hours spent sweating in the blazing sun, and freezing in the cold, its always struggling for that one clean pattern at a slow pace so you can bump it up a notch, its those literal blood, sweat, and tears.
Someday soon I hope we can shine at our partnership. Someday soon I hope we are sliding around those barrels in a cloud of dust, and running for home on the heels of a paycheck.
Until then I say a silent prayer of thanks to the true barrel horses that once formed the other half of a partnership with me. To Tonto for making barrel racing come alive for me, and to Magic for teaching me how to teach him. To Jo for being my worthy partner. To Flash for being my next wonder horse…..
Who is Flash? In the next month that question will be answered! Stay tuned.