Tammie L McKnight

Where are you from? Crockett, TX.

When did you start barrel racing? At the age of 8 yrs. old

Are you involved in any other equine events? Mostly Barrel racing

Who or What got you started barrel racing? My Father & 4-H

On the road sometimes things happen do you have an usual or funny story? MY father & I wanted to go so badly that he would wait outside my football games as I was cheering till the game was over, with the horse & trailer. That wasn’t the extreme part. At the time, we only had an International Scout & an old red Stock trailer. My father would have my clothes that I had packed for the weekend & would allow me to sleep as we traveled to race in the slack of the first youth rodeo of that weekend. The problem was that he would have to wake me up in certain intervals & in quiet voice he would ask “Tammie you need to crawl down there & change out the towels because I can’t take the heat anymore…. the motor is burning my leg!” I crawl under his legs, change the towels out & we would continue as far as we could down the road till it was time for him to wake me up again or get ready to make my first run. We must have really wanted to go! & we did, from Friday though Sunday … just in time for work & school on Monday.

What was the name of your favorite horse and tell us a little about it.  Her name was ButterCupp. My Dad saw her in a pasture & decided she was the one for me to graduate from my pony to, but the owner refused to sell to my dad at a fair price so my mentioned the issue to a friend & without hesitation she made an offer of $400 for the green broke, grade, mare & the owner eagerly accepted. He had previously priced the horse at $800 the day before to my father. This was just a reminder of the times. Mrs. Brown immediately brought the horse to my dad for $400. He would attempt to hide the horse from me for 2 months while he continued to train the horse to my riding capabilities. The week before my birthday, I would figure out the secret, but I lived on that horse. To this day I believe that horse could beat any horse alive in it’s acceleration from 0-60. By the end of that summer we had a man offer us 5 thousand dollars for her … we thought we had won the lotto. Of course we didn’t take it. Until this day people ask about that horse! My biggest regret was being too greedy to get off of her for a season or two to breed her. “Still in all her glory” she passed away last year. In her last few months my dad refused to let me see her… he would only say “I just want you to remember her as she was!!!” She was truly a local legend. 

What are some of the events that you have won (or races that stand out in your mind)?  The event that was the most pivotable for me was winning the Crockett Lions Club Rodeo Queen title…. I didn’t really realize the importance at the time, but I did afterwards. Not only was I the first African-American to run, but the first one in history to win. Let’s just say it was quite a historical moment in my community, But one in which I don’t think I’ve ever seen my father more proud!

Over the years have you noticed any changes in barrel racing what are the good or bad you’ve seen? I ‘m saddened by the industry is run more & more by money. It’s almost impossible for a little girl, her dad, & $400 grade mare to compete with the rigs & pro level horses these kids seem to be outfitted with at younger & younger ages. It’s insane! The dollar is king & fundamentals are thrown out the door. It makes me sad!

What is do you think of an equal pay out 4d?I think it’s a good thing. It has brought a breathe of fresh air into the sport. It allows the good solid 3D horse the opportunity to compete. In a jackpot or rodeo environment they would never have a chance. It’s hard when you fall in the cracks, but overall I think it has been great for the industry.

Do you think of yourself as a professional barrel racer? No, not yet! I haven’t officially made that transition, but I’m looking forward to making the calculated transition when the time is right for me & my horse “Win for Grande”- Winnie. My goal is Nov. 2003 or Nov. 2004. I’m being patient because I need sponsors & want to get as many things in order as I possibly can. I just want the transition to be well planned for the be results, even though I know I can’t control all variables.

If your not a professional barrel racer what do you do for a living? Believe it not… I’m an Electrical Engineer.

Who is your favorite barrel racer or barrel racers? I like the style of Janet Stover. Rusk, TX is very close to my home town so I have always watched her. I also tend to favor Hawk & Sherry Cervi. They are just like a machine. I love the style of Fiesta firewater.

Do you have any advice for anyone just starting out in barrel racing? Get an older seasoned horse to learn on, along with a really wise wise & honest mentor to guide you in the right direction. It would also be wise to join an organization like the NBHA to help get you going.

Do you think barrel racing should be limited to women only? On a pro level…. yes. It is the only event that we have at the National Finals Rodeo.