In the Arena with Barrel Racer and Trainer Deena Fries

We’ve gotten to know her barrel racing background and her training philosophies, and today Deena Fries will tell us about her in-the-arena mindset and more. Deena held the infamous arena record at Circle D Saddle Club for more than a decade with Mister Te Dandy, and she’s won more major titles than we can name here. How does she do it? Getting an idea of what she’s thinking during a run might just help unlock part of the secret to her success. 


What size arena do you prefer? (Big, small, medium, etc.)

I don’t have a preference.

What type of ground do you (and your horses) like best?

I don’t have a big preference here as long as the ground will hold the horses turning hard and leaving the barrels.

Which local arena is your favorite to run in and why?

I’d say Simmons Equestrian Center because Rick tries hard to make everything right for us barrel racers.

Talk about the single best run you’ve ever made in your lifetime. Which horse was it on, where was it, etc.?

I guess the NBHA Colonials on Mister Te Dandy. We had won the 1st go with 600+ horses had the only 16.,3 and the second go Will Reyonds come in and ran a 16.3 on Bunny’s Trucker. Danny and I come back and ran a 16.2, which was the fastest time run out of 1200+ runs for the weekend.

What is usually going through your mind in the few minutes before you make a run?

Do my job and have confidence that the horse will do theirs.

What are you thinking as you run to the first barrel?

Stay out of their way and let them work the way I trained them.

What’s usually going through your mind as you run home?

Boy that was a nice run or need to go home and work on whatever didn’t go well

If you could compete in any big show or rodeo, which would you choose and why?

I think most barrel racers would answer the NFR.


2 thoughts on “In the Arena with Barrel Racer and Trainer Deena Fries

  1. First I would like to say, “great interview” yes, Deena is and has been a true great friend for years but beyond the friendship, she is such a dedicated horseperson that isn’t really mentioned. She is continuously researching the best product, teqniques, feeding programs etc that put her horses on top! When it comes to her clients, she is with them long after the deal is done, always there to help them in any way she can. You don’t find a lot of trainers that stick with you like she does. She also has a great ability to match horse and rider. And last but not least, Deena has really gone above and beyond with the kids! Especially mine, kylie and I will always appreciate all you have done. So on an ending note, great interview and I am very proud to call you my friend and mentor.

    • Well said Natalie…you took the words right out of my mouth. Horses are certainly Deena’s obsession and we are so lucky that she cares enough to share with us that knowledge. Deena certainly gets a huge THANK YOU and PAT on the back from the Lackey home. We too are very proud to call Deena my friend and mentor.

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