Thursday, April 30, 2009

Rodeo Blog Review - On the Rodeo Road

Some of the toughest things about breaking into a rodeo association are getting to know the contractors, the arenas and the other competitors. On the Rodeo Road helps bridge the gap between those on the road now and those who wish they were. 

This site features commentary and interviews from Amber Mostoller, Ashley Whyland, Bryan Massey, Scott NeSmith, Spencer Turner and Tracey Goodman. After each rodeo they hit, they do a review of the ground, their runs/rides, the hospitality, etc. It really helps you keep up with the people at the top of the IPRA leader boards. 

Not only does it help keep you up-to-date with who is winning what, it lets rodeo fans get to know the personalities and points of view of the people who are out on the road winning every week. 

I really love the interview questions that ask the barrel racers/bronc riders for personal experiences or funny stories while on the way to/from the rodeo, because often times the best stories happen outside of the pen. And since so much of what we do in the arena is affected by what's on our minds outside of it, this part of the interview is crucial! 


Tuesday, April 28, 2009

One of Barrel Racing's Greats

This weekend, I got to watch my all-time favorite horse run - Joe B Jammin. He's probably getting older, as I remember running with him and his owner Sue Bologna eight years ago, and even then Jammer had won his fair share of events. This weekend Jammer ended up in the second division, but there's not enough that can be said about what Jammer has done for the sport of barrel racing. 

As for me, I can say that Jammer has been the horse that I've tried to emulate in every colt I've ever run. He's got no wasted motion at all in his turns - they're perfect. 

I will remember forever the run I had at Hartbow - now Simmon's Equine Center - that brought me within two tenths of Jammer. I was 13, and that was the first time I'd ever had a run like that (and probably the last time). I think a lot of kids like me remember their times depending on how close they came to Jammer. I've heard people describe the quality of their runs as such for years - "I was only three tenths off of Jammer..." or "Well, I ended up in the 2D but it was Jammer who won it, so that's not bad at all!" 

Talk about staying power. Jammer won three Congress titles, carried Martha Josey to countless rodeo championships and has set arena records from PA to Texas. And he's still going. 

I googled Joe B Jammin, and came up with one Youtube video of the horse at a rodeo in Denver, with Jeana Finlinson aboard. I didn't remember her ever having him, but she must have. Here's the run:

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Bit of the Week - "The One Hander"

As strange as it looks, the "One-Hander" seems to work on my boyfriend's rope horse. It may be the craziest looking bit I've ever seen, but that's why I'm mentioning it!

The bit has an adjustable mouthpiece so you can fit it to your horses bars exactly, and the shanks that come together are connected by extremely flexible springs. 

I was so skeptical of it when Corey, my boyfriend, brought it home to try. He is a team roper, and his horse Cherokee has always been very strong and hasn't had a great stop. Corey had a correction bit on him for the better part of the horse's life, and his mouth was a bit tough. He would always stick his tongue out and play with the bit, and every time Cherokee was asked to turn he would begrudgingly fight the bit. 

Now, with this bit, however the pressures hit him, he never fights it. The "One-Hander" is not nearly as severe as the correction bit Cherokee was used to, but its mechanics just keep this old broke horse much happier. He's been roping steers with the bit for a week now, and as strong as Cherokee is coming out of the box, Corey's had complete control. 

I can't say that this particular bit would work for most barrel horses, but it seems like a great riding bit for a nice broke horse. The maker of this bit, American Bridle Bit, makes different bits with an adjustable mouthpiece that aren't connected, so they might be a better choice for barrel horses. They also have custom port options for varying port needs. 

Made only in America and available only from the inventor of the bit, this bit is sort of expensive. It's on sale now for about $140, when it is normally $160. It comes with a lifetime guarantee and a 30-day warrantee, though. 

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Some old photos - a test run in slide shows.

Just some old photos of horses...some mine, some friends'.

Is This Whole Thing Worth the Cost?

This weekend, the BFA is sponsoring a futurity in Canvas, WV, adding $4,000 Friday and Saturday to the Open 4D. With this economy, is a three hour drive, a $25 camper hook up, $80 stall, $52 entry and $20 grounds fee worth it?

I'm going, probably. I just think I need to go this weekend, get it out of my system.  But really, this whole two day/camper fee/grounds fee/entry fee mess is a bunch of nonsense. It's for the rich - the really, really rich, mostly - who don't even need to make the payback that they earn. 

I find myself asking this question every weekend. As spring heats up, there's no shortage of barrel races in the Tri-state area. I'd much rather hit some rodeos, but it does seem like there's not too many of those around. I end up getting caught up in this barrel racing circuit, even though I'm not an NBHA member. Why? I don't really know - it just keeps ending up that way. I really need to get out of it, because it really isn't that much fun, and it's not where my horse does best. 

But I guess that was just a ramble. The problem really is - how can we justify doing this every weekend against big dogs who use all kinds of illegal substances to make their horses fly? As I mentioned yesterday, barrel horses are just as hyped up as thoroughbreds running on the track - yes, I do mean just as hyped up on drugs as race horses. We don't get drug tested as often, and we don't have the same industry watchdogs. It's bad, guys, really bad, and it makes the rest of us not want to deal with it. 

When NBHA instituted the divisions to give everyone a little payback, they tried to even things out. Well, for me, divisions don't make barrel racing any better. The rich guys at the top still take home most of the money, and those that get stuck in the lower divisions get a little. It's a lot about pride. 4-D just makes my bones shiver. Maybe the 2-D horses really are the fastest, fairest horses at the big shows, but its the 1-D horses that are all juiced up that unfairly win. 

I guess it's a lot like the steroids controversy in baseball - we love to see Barry Bonds smashing homeruns over the left field wall, but when we find out all the drugs he used, its just one big let down. 

That's the way I feel about these amazingly fast horses that seem to make going to barrel races a crapshoot for the rest of us. They are gorgeous, and the runs that they put down are heartstopping, but in the end, these runs are really just heartbreaking. 

Monday, April 20, 2009

Juices in Our Ponies

After a weekend of drooling over a four-year-old sorrel gelding at Henderson's Arena, I have been thinking about futurity prospects and all of the ethical implications involved.
At four, this colt was a stout 16 hands tall with a stride from hell. I'm not usually attracted to this type of horse, but his deep croup and straight back legs just screamed run. At this second show of his career, he clocked a 16.8, less eight tenths  off the fastest time of the day - and he was just high loping. 

I'm not speculating as to whether or not this horse was being enhanced by any substances or not, but seeing him made me think about what we all don't talk about in polite conversations - what our horses are running on. Drugs are the purple elephant in the room, but they shape the way the industry runs at every level.

Futurity horses are one example horses flying high on speed and all other fun juices, but drugs aren't limited to young horses. It seems like more and more, horses of all ages are being doped in one way or another. 

I'm guilty - my 16-year-old black AQHA mare has broken all four legs, and we have vetted the crap out of her to keep her healthy and running. She has had an IV of Tildren to help rebuild her navicular bone and give her vertebrae more cushion, and if I have enough money she gets Legend every few months. She gets Red Cell, Calf Manna, Grow'n'Win GC, and Omolene 200. She's a happy, healthy horse, and she runs very consistently. 

Now, all of these supplements will pass a test with flying colors at the Congress, World Show, or any where else. I've pretty much only had this horse my whole career, except for some colts here and there, so I've been relatively sheltered from the steroid usage of much of my competition. Like steroids and drugs in almost any other sport, the actual extent of their usage will never truly be known. 

I worked for a vet for years, and I saw the underbelly of the industry. I saw nerved horses that couldn't walk otherwise come in with broken legs that they couldn't even feel. 
How far have drugs gone in our industry, and at what point do we care about what goes in to our show horses? At what point do you say a horse won't make it without the drugs and just give it another job?

More importantly, what exactly are the ethical standards in our industry? Are they the spoken standards that we can all talk about on the bleachers pleasantly, or are they really what people do behind closed doors, with IVs and needles?

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Getting Started...

As the spring season heats up, we're all getting ready to move on to new things - outdoor arenas with our young horses, futurities, rodeos, etc. While I'm running a new young horse, I'm also trying something else new. I'm getting this blog underway to give myself a voice in the industry - I'm going to be commenting on everything from the ground at arenas I hit to new products I try to new ways my horse comes up with to hurt herself. I'll also feature interviews from interesting people I meet along the way and provide show results whenever I get them. If you have any suggestions for anything  you'd like to see on this site, please, please let me know! 

It's Henderson's Arena in Jackson, Ohio, this weekend for an NBHA show. Exhibition starts at 8 a.m. If you'll be there, let me know and give me a shout!