Current World #2 in the IPRA standings, Laura Lee Thomas is poised to have a big winter to match her stunning summer aboard Verily Six Bugs. The duo will run at the All American Quarter Horse Congress this week and then get ready for the IFR in Oklahoma City come January. Read about their St. Tite performance and find out what her pre-IFR game plan will be.
Start from the beginning. How did Tanner haul to St. Tite?
Bruce (my husband) offered to go with me but he didn’t have too much vacation time left, so we left Tuesday after work and I had to run in the Wednesday night perf. We gave him a big hay bag and away we went. Tanner usually hauls well unless he’s in the trailer too long, he can get really bored! We arrived around 7 a.m., but there was open arena time in the morning so I saddled him up and headed to the arena. They require your horse to pass a vet check too so after I rode I took him to the vet check. It was then off to a stall for a little rest before the night perf.
How did he adjust to staying on the grounds? Did he stay in a stall, and was that hard with his being a stud?
The weather can be pretty rotten up there so I usually get a stall, however some of them are pretty small. His wasn’t the worst one, but it wasn’t real big. When I do have to stall him I make sure horses on each side are geldings. He had geldings on both sides so that was good. I just don’t like him where he can touch a mare in case she’d be in heat! I’ve had him places with mares on the backside with stalls that had big spaces between boards, but he was the one behaving and the mare wasn’t! He was fine except that during the night Thursday he must have gotten cast in his stall. Friday his legs were all swelled and beat up when we took his wraps off. Upon further inspection we found a lot of hoof marks on his stall and could tell what happened. He likes to roll a lot!
When you saw the pen and the alleyway, what was your game plan? Did you have to make any adjustments to the way you always ride him?
I have run at St. Tite several times in the past and even made it to the short go before and placed in a go or so and the average, so I knew what to expect with the pen. I’ve been excited all year to run him there because he likes the big pens! He really likes when he can have a lot of room to really run before the first, so I didn’t really have to make any adjustments.
What was it about the pen that Tanner liked so much?
I think he liked the fact that he could really run! Most of the horses I’ve had love to really run and turn the first and that’s a great place for them! Seems like they really don’t fire if they can really run to the first. I have had some horses that I have to watch and can’t go all out but not with Tanner!
How were your barrels both days?
My patterns were pretty good except that he might have stepped out a little on the 3rd. I ended up running last for the short go since I was 1st in the average (they reversed the order). He was really flying going to the first and set so hard in the short go that he lost his butt! He went so far down that he brush burned his stifle! He came up and cruised across the pen then really picked up speed and still ran a 16.8!!! I had run two 16.4’s to win the average!
Did he change at all from run to run?
Not really – he ran 16.4 and another 16.4 – the 2nd one was a bit faster. He felt good all week!
What was the crowd like?
The crowd there is CRAZY!!! It is the loudest most exciting rodeo I have ever been to! The pickup men carry flags with fireworks on them and they have fireworks going off during the rough stock events! It really is and experience!!! Most people speak only French that are from the area so that makes it tough. I’ve noticed over the last couple of years compared to about 1999 or so, that some can speak a bit of English so it’s a lot easier than it used to be!
How was the atmosphere around the grounds?
The French Canadians like to party! Some of the cowboys do too, I stay away from that crowd! It’s a bit wild and crazy too!
How were the other barrel racers? Kind and courteous?
I know a lot of the barrel racers and did meet some new ones as well. All were kind! However arena time is a little wild and people don’t wait their turn like we do in the states! I didn’t know any of the ones that “cut” in front of me but I quickly decided to just do my thing, you can’t wait around for your turn! LOLJ
Talk about what it is like to come out of St. Tite sitting #2 in the world standings. Did you expect Tanner to do that well?
I did expect to do well and was hoping to do really well in the average. I had hoped to get a check in the short go but you can’t win them all! I sure did well and can’t complain! I guess I didn’t expect to place as high as I did in both goes.
After Tanner’s fall in the finals, are you worried about soundness or confidence issues for him?
Mostly I was worried if he was hurt or sore. I gave him a week off and he seems to be fine and is back to competition.
What’s your post-St. Tite, pre-IFR game plan?
Well, I was going to be done going to rodeos for this fall until I found out I was #2!! I decided I’d better drive South and hit a couple of more! We’ll be heading to the Congress then have a rodeo the week after. There’s not too much going on then, but there is one more rodeo in November in South Carolina that I’ll probably go to or there’s a bigger one in Arizona, but with the South Carolina rodeo being so much closer I’m sure that’s probably what I’ll do!
Are you making any adjustments for the uncertain ground and loooong run to the first barrel at Congress?
Tanner loves a long run so I imagine I shouldn’t have too much trouble with the first barrel, at least I hope not, however the ground can be tricky! I’ve been last on the drag there for the first go and then last again if they had scratches, they just move the drag up, which is unfair often times, because if you were last when it gets reversed you should get to be first. I’m just going to put new shoes on him next week before I go. Other than St. Tite he usually doesn’t have too much trouble with the ground.
How early do you plan to get to Congress, and will you ride in the arena at night during the open ride times?
I am going to leave Wednesday and then plan to ride that night and then I run Thursday. It should be good enough and that way he can rest a bit at home and be turned out. He hates being cooped up in a stall for very long! Rodeo horses seem to not need as much arena time as some that I’ve had that weren’t that rodeo seasoned.
Check out this video of Thomas and Tanner last winter at Dave Martin’s BullRide Mania at Sundance Arena