Whewwww....Another NFR in the books. The World Champion Barrel Racer decision came down to the last round. I was really, really hoping Lisa Lockhart was going to finally win her first World Title, but when the dust settled and the dollars were tallied, the title went to Fallon Taylor.
The Average win DID go to Lisa and Louie...
A couple of tiny bobbles in Lisa's normally, super consistent riding style is what cost her. That was the most shocking thing to me because Lisa is known to be the Queen of Consistency and she has always been the epitome of handling pressure. You just never see her making obvious mistakes.
This was a tough NFR year though. Not just in the barrel racing. Dang near every event had some major fluctuations in the leader board and the pressure was on in the 10th round in several events.
Watching the 10th round live, I was rather confused by Tuf Cooper's demeanor in the arena after he tied his calf. He seemed rattled and out of sorts. I hadn't been paying a lot of attention to the stats in the calf roping, so I didn't realize until I watched the televised round later that night (Yep...We see it live and then try to watch the televised replay to hear the commentary)...The reason Tuf was so out of sorts was because Matt Shiozawa (Shazam!!) was leading the average and stood to win the Calf Roping title...but he missed his calf and had to go to his 2nd rope. That put Trevor Brazile (King Of The Cowboys) in contention to win the average and the title. Brazile roped the head (missing the nose) and just barely got his hands on his calf before the rope came off. He got his calf tied and the time counted, but he was long and that opened the door for Tuf. Tuf was a little long on his calf, but it was a smooth run and earned him the title. It's rare that two of the top hands, especially when one of them is Trevor Brazile, blows their final round, but once I heard that is what had happened, I realized why Tuf was acting so weird after his run. It hit him that he had just won his 3rd World Title.
The team ropers had hell too. The first few rounds were so fast that most of them started coming out and were roping and going left so fast and so hard that they were missing dallies or not giving their heelers good shots. The Thomas and Mack is a teeny, tiny little arena, so it's not just the barrel racers who struggle. Every one of the timed event contestants have to be right on the mark and at the top of their game, every.single.night to do well there. If you're late coming out of the box, even by a single stride...You are screwed.
The ground conditions were a big factor at the NFR this year. The barrel racers had hell the first 2 nights...It wasn't good the 1st night and was plumb dangerous the 2nd night. People were raising hell about it online...as if the NFR committee, the PRCA and the WPRA weren't already all over it. Sheez!!
It was better after that, but still not great in my opinion. I think they had it almost right in rounds 3 and 4. Round 5 seemed to develop a sticky spot at the 5th barrel, causing horse after horse to knock that 3rd barrel. After that round, it seemed like it started to get too dry again. After round 5, most of the girls started carrying bats. At that point, they were pretty much just trying to get their horses past the barrels. You can run a horse on crap ground, once or twice, but after that, when those horses know they are going back into the same arena...They just start shutting down.
It looked to me like Kassidy Dennison's horse, Eagle got sore toward the end. He looked like he was setting up just a little in round 6 and was really wringing his tail in rounds 7 and 8, not so much in 9 and was better by the last round, but you could tell he was tired. He wasn't running anymore.
Outside of Lisa and Louie being my favorites...I had a pretty deep field to cheer for this year. :-)
I like Trula Churchill as well and thought Worm looked and ran the best he ever has at a Finals. A downed first barrel on 2 separate runs cost her a win and a 2nd place check respectively. But she did win a round and place better than she ever has before.
My 2 Colorado girls had hell. Christine Laughlin hit barrels and kept changing horses and Christy Loflin hit barrels left and right and came off in round 5. Ouch!!
If you are not in the know...Corbin Livingston makes some of the funniest damned video clips about barrel racers you will ever watch.
My other favorite, Sherry Cervi didn't have a great finals. Stingray hit barrels, which is rare and in round 10 I was shocked when they ran over...I mean, flat ran over!! the first barrel. I've never, ever seen Sherry not ride her horses to the 1st barrel...
But Lisa kind of did the same thing too and Louie had to duck over to make it around the 1st barrel. That and another little bobble coming out of the 2nd barrel is really all it took to loose 2/10ths on the pattern and cost Lisa the title. She was so close!, but of course, that opened the door for Fallon and she was riding so well this year that teeny, tiny, little gap was all she needed to ease by Lisa.
This was Jana Bean's first NFR and I thought she rode really well, considering the ground conditions. I like Jana! She is a super nice lady. I met her at a pro rodeo in Colorado and I guess she could tell I was a little stressed out, because she just started visiting with me and talked me down. Not all of the pro girls are friendly like that, so when one is...I appreciate them to no end.
Which is one of the reasons I like Fallon Taylor. She is just as friendly and outgoing in real life as she comes across in interviews. Believe me, after you have been snubbed a few times or had to deal with the 'I'm so and so, so get out of my way' attitude of some of these women, you learn to appreciate the nice ones!!! I know Fallon has a bad reputation as a trainer...and because of that, I'd never buy a horse she had her hands on...but I still like her as a person. I get more than a little irritated with all of the people dissing her because of her clothing choices. It never fails to amaze me the hypocrisy of some people. I guess the old saying, 'It doesn't matter what you show up in or what you wear, as long as you come to win' doesn't really hold up. I've gotten teased for standing up for her tie-dye outfits, her glitter and fringe, but her over-the-top apparel is her signature and she makes a hellava lot of money off of it...So, I stand up for her business aptitude.
The idiots saying she looked like a rodeo clown and didn't deserve to be at the NFR...Well, she showed them!!! She earned her way to the NFR and she earned the title this year!! Obviously the couch jockey's have no clue how much money it takes to keep going down the road...Even if you ARE winning!
I am cracking up over the whole helmet thing though. Can we say, Ka-Ching!!! I'm still trying to figure out what 'stigma' people are referring to about wearing helmets? Fallon is NOT the first pro barrel racer OR the first NFR qualifier to wear a helmet. I cannot remember the name of the gal who wore one 100% of the time, all year long and every round of the NFR, but it's happened before. I sort of thought Fallon was making a statement about the ground conditions when she wore one in round 3. LOL. And maybe she was...But she got such massive support, that she jumped right on that bandwagon and kept wearing them. I suspect she will make a million dollars off of her Fallon Taylor endorsed helmets. God, I love seeing a great business woman in action!! But if the Helmet Nazi's start pushing for mandatory wear...You will see me have an abrupt change in attitude!! I'm just fine with the option being left open to CHOICE. You make your choice...I'll make mine! Don't ever forget that Fallon Taylor is a business woman...She made the switch because sponsor's are throwing money at her to do so...It's no different than the clothing she wears. If that is what pays the bills and keeps you rolling down the road...That is what you use and what you wear.
The one thing you cannot forget is, rodeo at this level is a business. Those of us that are doing it for fun and/or trying to work our way up to this point can only hope that someday we can start counting on sponsorships to ease the costs. Having a horse that can win is only 1/2 the battle. The real battle is having enough money to keep going to rodeo after rodeo, month after month, year after year. The 'free' stuff doesn't really start rolling in until you've managed to make it to the 'big show' a couple of times. :-)