Brent Puhl Becomes a Reporter

Photo by Jennifer Paulson for Horse&Rider

I’ve been waiting to post this for a rainy day, and well, since I’ve been super busy getting ready for The Best of the Best in Ohio Charity Slot Race and September Showdown and doing my day job, I haven’t had time to do any interviews with any real barrel racers lately. A while back, my buddy Brent Puhl wanted to interview me and have me post it here. So I let him, reluctantly, because I’m really not all that fabulous. He did a kick-butt job of asking the questions, though, so here it is : )

How long have you been riding horses???

I started riding jumping ponies when I was 5, so about 19 years now.

Who got you started and hooked into barrel horses???

That would definitely be Ginny Bowman. My mom and dad were amazing in finding me the best instructor in the world (my parent’s aren’t into horses themselves) and she was just getting back into barrel horses after mainly raising, training, and showing halter and pleasure horses. I guess we have her son, Beau, to thank for getting both of us into it (I was 12) because he started riding bulls, and barrel racing was a way for Ginny to go to the rodeos to watch him.

What got you started in writing The Barrel Racing Blog???

I started writing The Barrel Racing Blog as a college project. We had to start a blog in my online journalism class, and I decided that there was no good blog (and barely even good website) about barrel racing. At the same time, I was in a community journalism class that focused on how important media is in holding a community together. Growing up as part of the Ohio/PA/WV barrel racing community, I realized how we were lacking a media outlet devoted specifically to us. So, The Barrel Racing Blog was born!

Looking back is there any one special horse that you had? Tell us about it.

Of course. And anybody that knows me knows that’s an easy answer! I’m still running my youth horse–Zippos Three Dee, better known as Onyx. I got her when I was 11 (I’m almost 24). Ginny found her standing in a field at one of her Western pleasure client’s houses. They didn’t want to part with her–they were keeping her as a Western pleasure horse for the kids they wanted to have down the road. But Ginny talked them into parting with her for me. She was broke, but didn’t do anything great (She was woeful at Western pleasure). She’d never seen a barrel pattern, but Ginny started her on the barrels as soon as we got her. She rode her in the mornings, and put me on her every night for a lesson and showed me what she was working on.

Onyx has broken just about every bone in every leg. She tore her stifle and had to have surgery the first year I had her, fractured her hip in 2002, fractured a coffin bone in 2005, and fractured her navicular bone in 2007. Every year in between that, I ran her and she was a solid 1D horse. She won the BullRide Mania Tour Finals in 2004 and placed at the Congress every year I took her (five times total). In 2009, I retired her because she tore an impar ligament and wasn’t healing. But, when my parents brought her out to live with me in Colorado, she was 100% sound. She’s been clocking in the 2D (and sometimes the 1D!) ever since. It’s really exciting for her to be healthy again; she’s my rock!

Looking back is there any special shows or people that have really been an influance on you???

There are so many special people that have influenced me, it’s hard to name just a few. Of course Ginny, as well as Amy and Mia Shaffer who hauled with a bratty, teenage me, and are more than “like family” – they are family. I grew up about 15 minutes from Circle D Saddle Club (Dime) and Crooked Creek, and my parents and I always helped with the shows at Dime. The whole Buchleitner clan has been amazing friends, and I owe a lot of fun times and motivation to them. Same goes for the Millers.

Where are you living now and what are you doing ???

I live in Boulder, Colo., and I’m the managing editor of American Cowboy and Spin To Win Rodeo magazines. I’ve got two barrel horses here.

Looking ahead were would you like to see yourself in 5 years??? 10 years?? And what would you like to be doing???

I’d still like to be barrel racing, that’s for sure! I’d love to stay in rodeo journalism. It’s a blast, and I love this industry. I love Western fashion, too, and I write all of the Gear/Style sections for both magazines, so who knows, I could be doing something in that field, too! I definitely still want to be running barrels and maybe I’ll even get better at roping, but I won’t bet on that.

Looking ahead were would you like to see the barrel racing sport go ???

I’d love to see more money come into the sport on the sponsorship end. And I believe that can happen–we’ve just got to do a better job of getting organized on the grass-roots level at bringing in funding.

Where would you like to see The Barrel Racing Blog go and what would you like to see it as in the future???

Well I’d have never guessed three years ago that it would have grown so much. I could do a much better job updating, writing, etc., but you know, the real world calls at work and I haven’t had the time to devote to it. But I’m so glad I’ve got Dawn and Clea, and they’ve been an amazing burst of energy. So, I have to say that I’d love it if more people wanted to get involved in writing show reviews like Dawn and Clea. I’d really like it if we could do more on-the-ground stories and file them quicker, so people could read what happened that day or the next. And I think that more areas need blogs like The Barrel Racing Blog, because not everyone can be in Barrel Horse News, but everyone likes to see the names of people they know in the news. We’re the local news of the barrel racing world, and more folks need that!

What do you like to do other than horses???

I love to travel! I’ve been all over the place but I’d definitely like to see more of this world. I really like to golf, too, but I definitely haven’t done that in a while because all of my spare time goes to horses!

Could you ever see yourself without a horse and if so what would you be doing???

I’d be working in Africa somewhere. For two years in college I basically gave up on horses all together and just traveled, and I thought for sure I’d be in East Africa somewhere working in development and human rights. I could have pretty easily done that. But you know how it goes, one choice turns into a hundred others, and here I am in Colorado instead.

What are some of your best memories from shows and what would you like to pass on to your kids???

Well, my best memories in the arena are all at the Congress. Those were some of the best moments of my life. But general best memories? Lots of nights at the Corral with Kasey MacInnes getting into trouble, and nights as a kid driving around in golf cart doing god-knows-what with the Buchleitners, Millers, Altmans, etc.

Recently, I’m so glad Dawn and Clea have come into my life and got me into putting on barrel races. We had so much fun last year at The Best of the Best, and this year it will be WAY bigger and even better. I really hope (and I have a feeling I don’t need to worry about this) that all of the same people come this year and bring in lots more folks. Really, it was such a blast, and such a great cause, I’m excited to be doing it on a larger scale in 2012.

As for the kids–NO kids for me : ) My horses and my dog are my kids. I’m way to selfish for kids. But if I were to have kids, I’d want them to not just get stuck in the Western world. I love rodeo, horses, horse shows, etc., but I am sure glad I’ve seen more of this world than arenas across the US. Getting out of your bubble is the most important thing you can do for your perspective on people, places and situations.


6 thoughts on “Brent Puhl Becomes a Reporter

  1. That was a very interesting interview Chels. You have no idea how fortunate you are to have gotten to travel and see all that you’ve seen. You have a very long life ahead of you and hopefully it will be everything you’ve ever dreamed of. I wish you the BEST OF LUCK!!!! You’re a great gal so just keep doing what you’ve been doing and you’ll definitely go far. And be sure to thank your mom and dad for doing such a good job of raising you. Parents are always the last to be praised for their work. Shirley

  2. A big atta girl to you Chels for all that you have accomplished so far. Just moving half way across the country and making it on your own is impressive but to be writing about the sport you love is fantastic. Can’t wait to see you at BOTB !!!!!!!!

  3. After I meant Chels I would always introduce her as the gal that will be doing the interviews at he NFR one day! I know you will girl! You are a blessing in our lives and we are so happy for you and your success – Your partners in crime Dawn and Clea

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