In last month's issue of the Western Horseman was a brief article about High-Dollar Barrel Racing(Out of the Chutes by Ed Knocke)...and it has kind of stuck in my craw every since.
I looked for the article online so you all could read it yourselves, but was not able to locate it...so I'm just going to basically hit on a few of the points that sorta torqued me off and why.
"Barrel racing has undergone a major transformation in recent years. Today's women ride racehorses with outstanding pedigrees, not cow horses with ranch savvy. And as the quality of competition has increased, available money has spiraled upward."
There is no doubt this is all true... kinda. It's an odd statement to make when so many barrel horse trainers actually prefer horses that have been used on a ranch or will specifically send their green horses somewhere so they can get some cattle work done on them. Why? Because top barrel horses are more than just racehorses. Barrel racing is not all about speed. You have to have a fast horse...that can also turn a barrel. It's a delicate mix. If it was only a race, you would see more TB's succeeding in barrel racing and well, can anyone think of a single TB that has ever been a great barrel horse? I can't.
Lindsey Spears, speaks of her mare, Martha(worth six figures), "She was born to run barrels, based on her genetics. Her sire competed at the NFR. Even today, he's among the most dominant stallions in barrel racing. There are very few people out there riding $500 horses today."
Yea, she's right. Martha's bloodlines are the cream of the crop. That mare is doing exactly what she was bred to do......And she was almost a wash-out! She was originally intended to be a futurity horse, but wasn't handling that very well. You all want to know why Martha is the great barrel horse she is today? Dena Kirkpatrick KNEW this mare had potential. She KNEW she was a great mare. And she was smart enough not to ruin her by forcing the futurity issue. I always wonder just how many horses with the exact same potential end up washed out and with blown minds because people can't or won't recognize that what they are doing isn't working?
This is where I get more than a bit huffy about what some people think $500 horses are or are capable of achieving. There are a lot of girls going down the road these days that ARE riding high dollar horses. Almost none of them MADE these horses. They are just good at maintaining them and good enough jockeys that they can get good runs out of these horses. But where did these horses come from? They weren't always high dollar horses. Someone had to train them. Someone had to put the time in on them to make them what they are. Cause if they hadn't, they would be $500 horses(or free).
Brittany Pozzi-Pharr thinks cheap barrel horses are a thing of the past. She paid a significant amount for her horse, Stitch, that she won't even reveal the exact figure. "I paid quite a bit for him," she says. "He was already a trained barrel horse and the man who owned him knew what he was."
Well, Duuuhhhh!! Some of these girls...I swear! Anytime you have a good one, you know what they are and you are not going to give them away. BTW, Thanks Brittany...I'm going to jack the price of all my barrel horses several grand...because barrel horses aren't cheap these days. ;-)
The part that irritates me the most is when they compare jockeys, like these girls to people who made their horses. Like...
Charmayne James and Scamper...and Magic....and Cruizer. Charmayne made all of those horses. Particularly Scamper. Charmayne is more than just a jockey on a barrel horse. She can make a horse great-from start to the NFR. I think I remember Scamper's original price was $1500(?).
Kristie Peterson and Bozo. Yea, Bozo was a $400 purchase. He was also partially blind, cranky, untrained and bad to kick. It took Kristie and her husband YEARS to turn Bozo into a decent saddle horse, much less a 4-time World Champion.
Kelly Kaminski and Rocky. Kelly raised Rocky, out of a mare she paid $500 for. But she was the one who trained him and made him great.
Jill Moody and Dolly. Jill doesn't even own Dolly. But she is about the only one who can get along with her. Dolly's owners raised her and think the world of both Jill and Dolly.
Maybe it's because I have a soft spot for the underdog. Maybe, it's because I actually train my own barrel horses...but, I don't think the big change in barrel racing is so much about what a horse costs. I think we have just realized a clear delineation between barrel racers and barrel jockeys.
You know, for a long time, I didn't really care for Sheri Cervi. It was no secret that she came from money and paid big bucks for the horses she rode. But, I read a quote from her one time that raised my level of respect for her wayyyy up there. Basically she just acknowledged that her family did have money and could afford to pay for very nice horses for her. She always wanted to make it to the NFR and she was thankful she had the means to make that dream come true.
Now that's a woman after my own heart. So down to earth and grateful for the opportunities she had available. There was no looking down on others and no need to feel superior because she could afford to buy the best. There is an article about her in the new Western Horseman this month. She is going to make a bid for the NFR on a horse raised by her family. And I for one, hope she kicks some snotty little jockey butt!!
Does this mean I don't respect people who buy finished horses to run barrels on? Absolutely not, if everyone trained their own horses, trainers would be out of business. I just don't like the attitude that you have to pay big bucks to make it.