- Tom Liebert is from Brooklin, Wisconsin. He started riding in 1967 at the age of twelve. His first experience was in 4-H at the Green County Fair in Monroe, Wisconsin. Tom considers himself not to be a pro but a semi-pro barrel racer.
He began his love of horses on a dairy farm where he had some ponies. Going to fairs, he really didn’t do well at first. He attributes this to his lack of skill of properly fitting the horse. In the halter and pleasure classes he got pink and in barrels and flags and poles and such he got blue.
Though he hadn’t learned to fit a horse correctly, he did know how to ride well. My father died when I was 9 and I had to learn pretty much on my own. Although my mother was a great supporter, as in buying my ponies / horses. She was a city girl and couldn’t help much. She bought me a 1950 dodge pickup with high sides when I was 14 and I started hauling down the road, with no license of course. Since she couldn’t drive it and I could, she let me, so I’ve actually been hauling myself to horse shows since I was 14. He says you tend to gravitate toward what you do best: “I was a lot better at barrels than I was at fitting a horse for the show ring.”
- Tom thinks barrel racing has improved a lot over the years. The reason that barrel racing is so much better now is because of the Division concept. Nothing has done more for the sport, it’s helped everyone; The trainers, the promoters, the tack and trailer business, the demand for barrel horses, and it has given US, the barrel racers, So many opportunities to run at quality shows. I’d also like to say that thanks to the early pioneers of the Sport…Martha Josey… The Green Brothers…… Bobby Stivers (just to name a few) for helping make Barrel racing what it is today. We as barrel races owe them a lot. They have taken the sport to a whole new level.
His most memorable event was winning the Ultra Pad in Memphis, Tennessee in 2000.
His current horse is Honeysuckle Sea. “Honey” is out of Paradise Sea (who is out of Northern Sea) and by Maudie’s Joak (3 time NFR World Champion Barrel Horse). Tom rode Honeys’ dam Paradise Sea for six years, but had to put her down at the age of sixteen when she broke a leg. Honey, he says, was “almost like riding a ghost.” She was very similar to her mother and he surely has a soft spot for her.
Tom currently rides in “NBHA, IBRA, and just about everything out there. I just love to barrel race.” His favorite places to race are the Midwest and the South. He says the South is great for its atmosphere, the competition, and all the good horses.
Being semi-professional, Tom still spends six months a year at the steel mill where he has worked for seventeen years and has been taking a six-month voluntary layoff for a couple of years. He also runs the family trust and that includes a couple of farms he manages.
For anyone who hasn’t met Tom: Get to know him – he’s proof that barrel racers are the nicest people.