I’m from Salt Gap, TX, just outside of Brady, TX. I probably ran my first barrels at the age of 13 or 14, several days ago. My dad was a rancher, always had a few good horses & I started seeing rodeos when I was 8 or 9. My dad was a good horseman & always had something for me to ride. At one time I held a GRA card & an LRA card. I never made a living doing it but have hauled a lot over the last 40 yrs.
I rode a little dark brown quarter mare, Peppy Lynn, a very close bred peppy breeding. She was rom in barrels & reining & was the one that won me the LRA, LA rodeo assoc, reserve championship in 1966. There were two horses that I rode before her with the GRA card. One was her mother & another little dun, unregistered, mare.
Had a good Texas Dandy bred stallion but lost him at an early age. Rodeoed on him, open rodeos, & did very well. My nineteen yr old gelding is a Johnny Dial bred horse, has an ROM in barrels, halter & trail points. He has won me a good deal of money. I now have a Jet Toro/Dash for cash gelding, a five year old that I’m real excited about.
There have been lots of changes in barrel races. There have been good horses for many years but I think a lot more of them now. Can’t really think of bad things about barrel racing, the good things, I’m sure, would way out way the bad.
Back years ago there was no such thing as exhibitions, just had to haul that young one & pay the entry fee for the experience. There are lots of good, exceptional paying futurities for the young horse. If there is something bad, that would probably be the one thing, starting horses so young, them lacking growth in body & mind. Not a lot of horses go on down the road for the long haul that have been good futurity horses.
I think the age change was a great thing to happen. As far as thinking about beginning to run barrels, horsemanship, in my mind, is the most important thing for someone to work on before becoming a barrel racer. There are lots of things to know & learn about a horse, so I figure learning everything you can about them & learning how to communicate with them along with good riding habits, horsemanship, will put you on the right track.
Over the years I have watched cutting horses, reining horses, rope horses, dressage horses & just about every top trainer in the country do what they do best & take things that I like & apply. You might do some particular thing just a little different to get your best results. Your hands are very important & teaching a horse to use their whole body are two very important aspects along with patients on your part. Pushing & hurrying will get you nothing but trouble most of the time.
Men running barrels doesn’t bother me one way or the other. There are females that do the men events, so why not? I have had several horses that, at the time, were my love, but favorites would be hard to say. Barrel racing is a wonderful thing, as are most horse events. Not everyone is cut out to be a barrel racer but there are other things. Reining was something that I loved to do & trail classes which, I think, are good for barrel horses.
Things were quite different in the 50, 60, & 70’s. Other than Madison Square Garden, Boston Garden, the old Houston coliseum, Baton Rouge, LA., Alexandria, LA., Waco, TX., Will Rogers, & a few more, all the arenas were out doors. There were no stalls at the majority of them, horses would stand tied from 3 to 5 days, at the trailer or hopefully some trees.
There were no fancy trailers, a few little pickup shells but a lot of people slept out, in the back of pickups, etc. Some people did stay in hotels. Not a lot of motels in those days, just hotels, in the bigger towns or cities. A lot of horses went up & down the road in open trailers & even in the back of pickups. I really can’t remember when timers came to be, judges or cowboys would flag the barrel race & timers used stop watches. I want to think that timers were not around until the 70’s. I’m sure there is someone that could put an exact time on them.
Back when, there was a lot more visiting done by families, being very close knit, over a period of 3 or 4 days at one rodeo. Most of the time today one run or head is very common & then on to another one. Back when we are talking about Florence Youree, Jane Mayo, Billie McBride, Wanda Harper Bush, Loretta Manuel, Mildred Farris, long time rodeo secretary, ton Sewalt & that is naming just a few. They were just as good then, but just not as many as we have today, & they rode horses like the Grip, Scamper, etc. As in the cowboy events, barrel racing offers a lot more money today than in the past.
I really don’t remember the first big arena, maybe Baton Rouge Fair grounds, early 50’s. Going to rodeos as a child & then when I was 18 or 19 getting my first horses & trying to make a barrel horse.
Tam’et & I were at a QHS in Goldthwaite, TX in the early 70’s, staying in a little pickup camper shell. When the show was over we decided to take our baths which would be from a faucet & water hose. Just about the time we got started here came someone, so our baths were temporarily interrupted. She & I had a lot of excursions like that.
In the same time period we made a little jaunt in TX, La & Ms. Again we stayed in the back of a pickup. She was around 10 or 11 yrs old. We carried a barrel horse & a horse she showed in pleasure, showmanship, halter & horsemanship. It was a two wk trip & we brought home youth points in everything.
My son-in-law ask for some stories but I told him I didn’t have time to write a book. Tam’et & I had lots of good trips, lots of fun & many tales to tell. I guess you could say those were the good old days. Now I pull around a high dollar trailer, which I enjoy, I have a good time when I go somewhere & I love to visit with all the people I’ve met over the years. At one time I was a PRCA timer & had lots of good times then. As far as I’m concerned there is nothing better than a good horse, rodeos, barrel races, & lots of wonderful friends, young & old.