Sallie Burleson

I am from Burnet, Texas. I received my first horse at age 2 as a gift from Trixie and Othal Davis, a long time Burnet County ranching family. He was a Shetland pony that had belonged to their daughter LaBlanche Evans and had foundered and could only walk and trot, his name was Sandy. I started to compete at age 8 after some barrel racing lessons from Wanda Bush. My Daddy caught me running my horse around 3 cedar trees in the pasture after I had seen the barrel race at the Burnet rodeo and he said if I was determined to run barrels I had better learn from the best.

I have shown halter, pleasure and reining horses. I competed in every event except the bareback riding in the All Girl Rodeos that were so popular in the late 60’s and 70’s. I thought riding bulls was fun until I saw a bull break a girl’s jaw and knock out a bunch of teeth, and I drew him the next night. I said win or lose, he would be my last bull. I won 2nd and quit. I used to start young horses under race tack and gate broke them before they were sent to trainers. In the late 80’s and 90’s I quit barrel racing and went to work on the racetrack in New Mexico as a pony and outrider and when pari-mutual came to Texas I moved back and did the same thing. I led Pat Day the first time that he rode a race on Texas soil and that same day was also the first time in history that a Texas track had a million dollar pari-mutual handle. He is now the all time money winning jockey in racing history.

I have been very fortunate to have had several great horses that would literally win anywhere in any competition. My favorite horse wasa gelding named Full Speed Rebel. He was by Full Speed (full brother to Flit Bar) and out of a daughter of Go Man Go. I bought him as a 6 month old colt from G. W. Townsend, Glen Flora, Texas for $350.00 in 1968. He was an awesome horse to ride or watch and could turn a barrel running wide open. You can still hear stories about him today as to how hard he was to get in the arena, but we mastered that trick by leading him down the alley, turning his rear to the barrels, getting on, then he would shuffle back turn to the right and run. I trained him and started hauling him to rodeos and jackpots when he was 4. He won the 1st jackpot I entered, and the 2nd JP, tied for 1st with a friend of mine who was setting 5th in the WPRA, and I knewI had a great horse. After a bad fall as a 5 year old, he startedducking off on the 1st barrel, and we went through some tough times. I decided he had been hurt originally, and after healing, it had become a bad habit that any time the ground gave a little, he was gone. In 1975, Carol Goosetree convinced me to go to work for Dale and Florence Youree. Around a year later I decided if I could train him once, I could re-train him to the Youree method. I did, and from that time on he only ducked off 2 times in 8 years. In the days before big added money and so many barrel racers, I won over $50,000 on him.

Looking back I should have gone pro on him. But back then, I didn’t have a traveling partner and there were no corporate sponsors. I had a permit and ran against all the pros anyway at the WPRA sponsored barrel races. I ran him many years at the Fort Worth Stock Show Invitational barrel race, and won lots of money. He loved that pen and would run from the back of the alley. Two years in particular stand out vividly.One yearI won more go’s and more money than my old friend Carol Goosetree did on Dobre, and went into the Finals 1st. But she outran me in the short go and won the Average. Next year, Carol was WPRA Champion. The next year my old friend Lynda Gordon and I did the same thing, with the same outcome. And Lynda finished WPRA Rookie of the Year.

My favorite memory of all time is when my daughter, Laura Dishman Maxwell started riding Reb. Many people thought she would never be able to, but she did and won the Austin-Travis County Rodeo on him as many times as I did. She was an inspiration to me because she tried so hard to master him. And she did.

I think that the barrel race should be open to men and women. And the 4D races should definitely stay. Having been a competitor in each D with a different classification of horses, it gives everyone a chance to be a Champion. I do think that the WPRA should remain as it is, closed to men, but I disagree with the age requirement that bars youngsters from competing. If they are good enough to win, they should be able to have a card.

My advice to any barrel racer would be to never quit trying to improve your skills or your horses. You can sit back and use common sensebut some people are just better riders or have better horses than others. But anyone can make things happen if they try

To see some of the barrel races Sallie won money click here