Originally from the East Coast, this cowgirl put the barrel-racing world on notice when she used her rookie year to dominate the barrel racing standings in the International Professional Rodeo Association. Her season ended with a world title, a rookie of the year award, and a whole lot of dreams come true. But if you’re wondering how an International Finals Rodeo rookie handled the pressure of one of the biggest rodeos of her career, read on, to see what was going through her head during the four go-rounds of the IFR in Oklahoma City.
Take us through each round, run by run. Describe how your run went.
The first round was very nerve racking, I was really nervous and I hardly ever get nervous. I didn’t know what to expect. I rode Dink in the arena on Thursday; he felt good and seemed to be comfortable in there. He varies on how you ride him depending on the ground. When I rode him Thursday the ground seemed good and soft and not too hard. But by the time it was time for the barrels it got packed down and was a little harder and I didn’t notice it. I was first out and I let him really run to the first barrel and he went to the wall but the 2nd and 3rd were decent. They won it with a 15.3 and I was 15.50, one hole out of placing. I was kind of excited because he didn’t run far off the pace and we had a horrible first barrel.
In round two on Saturday afternoon I changed my game plan and got rid of my nervousness, I was going to go ¾ speed to the first barrel this time and hoped that it helped. But it didn’t, he still went past it and wasn’t snappy around it like he normally is. I started to get frustrated as some of the other girls at the top of the standings had placed in round one and two and I still had not won any money. My boyfriend Chris reassured me that neither him (Chris) or Dink had ever let me down (which I have to agree with lol) and I did have two clean runs under my belt and was sitting 4th in the average. Some of the other girls were also having trouble with the ground, it wasn’t dangerous but it wasn’t great. It was just a little hard and somewhat slick at the first and second barrel. A group of the girls got together and asked Myle (the barrel racing director) if we could get it dug up a little deeper but they couldn’t do it because all 15 girls didn’t agree to it.
Round three is Saturday night, and I had hoped that running him twice in one day would be better for us, but I also accepted that he didn’t like the ground and there wasn’t anything I could do to make him work his first barrel any better. He is good at judging the ground and isn’t going to hurt himself trying to work on ground he doesn’t think can hold him. Since I had already had 2 clean runs I just wanted to make sure this one was clean, and it was. I moved to 3rd in the average.
The fourth round was Sunday afternoon and I got nervous again! All I could think about was I could not hit a barrel. If I hit a barrel I would have no chance at winning any money and I would lose the #1 spot in the standings. So I let him run at his own speed to the 1st and then rode extra hard and 2 hands all the way to the 2nd and 3rd to be sure I did not hit any barrels. I ended up winning 3rd in the average which gave me enough money to hold on to the #1 spot in the standings.
What did you do to calm your nerves and keep your composure in this tight race to win the world?
I just tried to think of it as another rodeo, and told myself to just do what I did all year. I also had a good support group (Roxanne Dawson & Chris Neal) lol. They continuously told me I could do it and it was all going to be ok, just RELAX!!
What did you focus on with Dink before the IFR? Did he need any tuning or special conditioning?
I didn’t do anything different then I normally do when I prepared for the IFR. I just made sure he got exercised every day and was 100% healthy and feeling good.
What will the rest of 2011 look like for you?
I plan on going to some of the bigger IPRA rodeos with more added money and I am also trying to fill my permit in the WPRA so I can buy my card and try to make the circuit finals and win enough money to go to the bigger Pro Rodeos next year.
What bit did you run in at the finals?
The same bit I always run him in, a twisted wire with a little shank.
What was the hardest part of the IFR?
My horse not working like he normally does. But I guess he knew what he was doing after all 😉
Special thanks to Tiffany for making the time to speak with us after her big weekend!