Best of the Best in Ohio Qualifier: Janet Kerr

Today kicks off our weeks of interviews with the qualifiers for The Best of the Best in Ohio Slot Race. We’re starting with one of the most consistent horse and rider teams in the state, Janet Kerr and her main man Digger, as well as her young star Jetta! Janet has been a force in Ohio for years with Digger and recently added Jetta to her string, and she qualified on both horses for the slot race.

Order your Charlie to wear during the September Showdown!

She’s running for a Charlie 1 Horse hat, a tricked OuT Cactus Saddle, Chick’s Saddlery gear, lots more goodies, and a WHOLE pile of cash.

Tell us about the horse(s) you’re riding.

Digger – His registered name is FQH Rods Fast Deal, and he’s a 16-year-old gelding. He is a son of Sharp Rodney (A Sharp Leo) and a Deal the Cards mare. I have owned him for the last 8 ½ years and loved every minute of it!! Jetta – Registered name is Nonstop Soldier, she is a 9-year-old black mare. She is an own daughter of Nonstop Firewater and a Nonstop Jet bred mare.

What has been your horse’s biggest win this year and of all time?

Biggest win this year for Digger would have been winning Carrol, Ohio (SEBRA) and Jackson, Ohio rodeos. All time for Digger would not be a “win” but that he is mister consistency, top 5 1D for Ohio IBRA from 2005-2011 with one championship and two reserve championships. Jetta, I have only owned since January, her biggest win this year would be the Hookstown Rodeo but she has also given me several wins at local jackots and I am most proud of her for finishing 6th at the IPRA rodeo in Attica, NY out of 90 some girls!

What’s your ultimate goal in barrel racing?

Ultimate goal, wow that’s hard:) I know everyone wants to make the NFR but I don’t like to drive that much, LOL!! Basically to just have FUN and enjoy the horses and try to do the best I can, would love to try and make a run at maybe the IFR someday if the opportunity ever arises but once again it comes down to I LOVE to barrel race, driving NOT so much!!

What saddle do you ride?

I ride a Double J Pro Racer.

What bit is in your horse’s mouth?

Digger – Runs in a Reinsman O ring and sometimes a twisted wire junior cow horse if the ground is bad or its a huge pen. Jetta – Runs in a ported gag bit that I dug out of a box somewhere, I have no idea what it is but it works!

What supplements do you feed?

Both horses are on Corta Flx and Iron Horse. I also use Jailbreak by Oxy-gen on Jetta before I run.

What won’t you leave home for a barrel race without?

Haha, everyone that hauls with me knows I’m a nervous person so I go through the whole check list before I go down the drive:) My crazy polo wrap collection would be at the top of the list though:)

To whom do you owe most of your success?

I owe a major part of barrel racing success to Tony Miensma, who convinced my parents that I needed to barrel race since I was lapping the pleasure horses, LOL! And then of course my family, my mom and dad hauled me many miles for high school rodeos and everything in between for years when I was younger and basically pushed/supported me to reach my goals!

Tell us one fun fact about you or your horse.

Anyone that knows Digger knows that he is corky, has separation-anxiety issues, doesn’t tie to the trailer the best, cinchy, just plum goofy but I love him. Another interesting fact is that he came from Tony Miensma that got me started in barrel racing and Tony also introduced me to my husband Wayne so…makes ya wonder where I would be without Tony looking out for me:) A fun fact about Jetta, she would much rather be on the road than at home, when most horses start getting that look like “when are we going home” she is like “where we going next”, LOL!! I have never seen such a happy horse on the road:)

What charity is closest to your heart?

St. Judes

Jackie Harris and Team DO3: Part 3

Here’s the last part of our interview with Jackie, and check out:

Gabby’s Rodeo from Jackie Harris on Vimeo.

Is there anything like Team DO3 in the rodeo/barrel racing world?
I do not believe there is anything like TEAM DO3. Most organizations in the equestrian world are about points. Points in order to be named “champion” at the end of the season and receive awards. That is all fine, however, I do not want that to ever be TEAM DO3. I want the members to want to succeed in order to be able to donate more to the charities. I want them to want to improve so that they can donate more to the charities. There won’t be any champions crowned, as our tally grows as a team! I do not report who adds what amount to our tally, as I want it to be a team effort. It doesn’t matter who adds what amount, what matters is that we are all out here doing our best and adding to that pot to watch it grow!

Who has helped you the most on this mission?
My husband, Sean. He knows full well, of course, how much it has cost me all these years to be a barrel racer. From the horses, to tack, to trucks, trailers, barns, arenas, etc. etc. Then for me to say, I need to do something, I can’t feel helpless any longer when it comes to cancer or heart disease, and wanting to help animals-I’m going to donate all of my winnings-He totally supported that decision. He didn’t tell me I was off my rocker! (Not for this particular circumstance anyway! Not even when I cracked my skull open before the Venango horse show and still insisted on heading down the road because I had the tv interview to help get the word out!) He has always supported me and listens to all my ideas and gives me feedback. He tells me that he feels I am in inspiration to others, which helps me to push forward. That others see that I didn’t just throw my hands up when Sis got hurt, and give it all up-that I thought it through and found a solution. As he tells me that most after losing all that I have, would have quit. To come up with Dreaming of Three after losing my step father and father-to have this huge plan, then for it all to crumble (seemingly with Sis’s injury)-he lets me know how strong I am, which makes me even stronger. He is going to help me with the business side of things, the business plan, expenses, assisting me with the “Rodeo Kids” and making things go smooth, being camera man, road crew, etc. Believe it or not, all of it has actually inspired him to learn to barrel race! He was generous enough when Sis got hurt to sell his trail horse so that I could have the room for a back-up barrel horse. I made sure I found something that he could ride on trails, and found Smoke. Which, he is such a great horse, and so patient with Sean learning the ropes! It is great to watch Sean with that big grin on his face as he finally is learning how to lope circles! He says “I can’t stop smiling when I do that, as it’s so much fun”. So he is finally, after 20 years of marriage, understanding why I’m so addicted to the horses and barrel racing!

What has this whole deal meant for you so far?
Every day as things progress, I think about how I hope my step father, John, and my father are proud of everything I am doing. As I try to make it more successful I think about them. So it is an avenue for me to honor their name-to perhaps mourn a bit throughout it all. I really miss them both and not a day goes by that I don’t have a moment where I think about them both. I wish they could both see all of it! To know that I am doing this for them, for all those names on my saddle crosses, for all of those out there still fighting, for the rodeo kids and their families. It was a way for me not to feel helpless any longer when it comes to cancer or heart disease or animal rescue/cruelty and I hope the Team members feel the same way.

Team DO3 and Jackie Harris: Part 1

Last January, I got to catch up with Jackie Harris and Beth Penland in Denver during the historic National Western Stock Show and Rodeo. Jackie had just kicked off Dreaming of Three, and she was bringing her first “rodeo kid” to the show with her to enjoy the competition, the crowd and all the fun that goes along with your first rodeo. My friends at Cinch Jeans helped us out, and we were able to introduce the little girl to two bareback riders who competed that night, Matt Bright and Richie Champion. 

Little did I know then that this was just the start of what Jackie was setting out to do. She’s now added on members to her Dreaming of Three team, now called Team DO3. Any competitor or non-competitor can join, donating a percentage of their barrel racing winnings to charity each week. Non-competitors can match competitors’ donations. It’s a really cool deal, and it’s so clever, it’s a shame this concept hasn’t been around longer!

So stick around to learn more about Team DO3 and how to get involved today and tomorrow. 

What’s your goal for Team DO3 in 2012?
To build awareness of the Team first. Getting as much press as possible through magazine articles, news coverage, sponsoring benefit rides, trade shows and to try to hit every segment of the equestrian industry. The more equestrians and businesses are aware of TEAM DO3 the more members we’ll acquire, the more sponsors we’ll acquire, and in the end the more money that will be donated to the charities.

What is your goal beyond 2012?
Beyond 2012, I would like to have enough members in each State to have a Team captain for each State. Whereas, they would assist DO3 with news coverage in their state, benefit events, clinics, etc. I would also like to be able to open up the door of the “Rodeo Kids” program to Team members. Therefore, being able to reach more families across the U.S.! I would like to have a brand name of clothing, jewelry, equipment-where part of the proceeds also go to the charities. I know for myself, I have my kids signed up for Upromise to earn cash for college-when I see that UPromise logo on any product-I purchase that particular product over another. I would like that to be the case with DO3 someday! Dreams eh? I have tons for DO3!

So far, how have people in the area responded?
Everybody has responded very positive to the whole idea of taking something we all love to do and using it as a resource to “give back”. I receive a lot of similar comments like ” I just heard about everything you do and I’m so amazed that there are amazing people like you and others in your team” If you read through some of the profiles of Team members, you’ll see that TEAM DO3 has touched their hearts in many ways. Some have lost family members to cancer or heart disease, and riding for those loved ones adds something special to their competing. Some, have rescued animals that they are competing on and are participating in honor of that animal and donating back. All Team members obviously have HUGE hearts! They all stepped up to the plate to initially help me in my crisis when Sis got hurt my very first run of the season after I had done so much work preparing for the very first Dreaming of Three season of “giving back”. I was overwhelmed how many riders stepped up to take my place in donating some of their winnings. Sometimes, when I’d receive a new member, and their story, I’d tear up reading it, as it was so overwhelming the positive response I received.

If it hadn’t been for Sis getting hurt that day, TEAM DO3 would have never been in existence! I guess all things happen for a reason, as TEAM DO3 is more of what I thought about when I started this. I, of course, wished I could get more people to participate and fight along side of me for cancer, heart disease and animal rescues the whole time..but the “how” was my problem. I think somehow, God showed me the “how” with the little bit of a setback with Sis.

My personal sponsors, such as my wonderful boss, Franco Harris and Silversport/Super Donut, People’s Gas, Lubrisyn, Star of the West, KB Custom Kreations, Cowgirlz Flair, 5 Star pads, Penland Farms, my sister and husband, Settle Inn, CA Metal Designs all never hesitated when I asked if they could sponsor me! Some of them came to me just wanting to be a part of this whole journey! Without them, I couldn’t have even begun all of this. Then all of the “Rodeo Kid” sponsors (too many to name)- I couldn’t make the child have such a special night without all of the gifts from them! All of them responded quickly and positively when I asked them to donate an item for the child. The Rodeo Kids program is an avenue for sponsors, people, anybody to reach out personally to a family who is fighting these diseases. To put a face to it and to respond with an “I care”! I feel with the “Rodeo Kids”, all of us pitching in to shower them with gifts, for the rodeo producers and entertainment to pause for a minute to make them feel special with autographs or announcing their attendance, etc., it brings the rodeo community together for a great purpose!

Congrats to Megan Yurko and all PA/OH/WV IPRA Barrel Racers!

Boy oh boy have I missed a lot. Major congratulations to IPRA Rookie Megan Yurko, who in her first run at the International Finals Rodeo in Oklahoma City last week took home a third place check worth $730! Also, big congrats to Laura Lee Thomas for two second place checks, and to Shanna Simmons for winning round three and running second in round two.

Here’s the rest of our interview we did with Megan Yurko before the IFR.

What’s your game plan for handling the pen and the ground in OKC?
My game plan is to just have fun, I ran Beea in that pen at the 2009 BFA so
it’s not new to us even though it will be set up different. I know she’s going
to love all the noise so I’m going to trust her and let her do what she does
best, RUN!!

What does making the IFR mean to you?
I can not describe what making the IFR means to me especially my rookie
year and being the youngest the whole thing is really quite overwhelming. There
are so many people to thank that has helped me and Beea get to the IFR: Amber
Mostoller and Heath Wyre, Teresa and Donnie Tyner, Stassi and Rob Pyne, Sherry
Sunden, Teresa Quay, Karla Arthur, Linda Jett, Laura Lee Thomas, Chris Bryant,
Melvin Byler, Virgil Templeton, I hope I haven’t forgotten anyone, I really just
want to thank you all!! Also my family and my sponsors LubriSyn, Buckeye
Nutrition and K.E.Y. Animal Hospital!!

Why would you rather rodeo than go to barrel races?
I LOVE the whole atmosphere, the noise, the crowds, the excitement, being
on the rode seeing so many new places and of course meeting new people that I am
happy to call my rodeo family!!

What is your goal for 2012?
I really haven’t thought a lot about 2012. Of course I would love to make
it back to the IFR, so I guess to continue to ride strong, keep Beea happy and
healthy and learn all I can from anyone and everyone that is willing to teach me
🙂

Will Beea continue to be your mount, or would you sell her to move on to another
horse?
Beea will continue to be my mount, I can’t imagine selling her but you
never know I guess…

What is your pre-run routine?
My pre-run routine is pretty laid back I normally ride in the grand entry
then watch the rodeo till its time to get Beea ready. I stretch Beea a lot, lope
a few circles each way, I always say a prayer then let her go!!!!!

What are you most looking forward to at the IFR?
I just can’t wait to get there!!! I am looking forward to the entire
experience!!

Who will be going with you?
Beea and I are hauling out to OKC with friends and my mom and dad are
flying out on Thursday.

Who will you haul with in 2012?
My dad has been hauling me since school started back up but I would love to
haul with Amber Mostoller again this summer. Summer is a crazy time at K.E.Y.
Animal Hospital and my dad needs to be there so I guess anyone that is willing
to haul us I’m in, I can’t thank everyone enough, again, that helped and hauled
us this past summer I wouldn’t be going to the IFR if it wasn’t for all of
them!!

Megan Yurko: International Finals Rodeo Rookie

Megan and Beea at St. Tite (Photo provided by the family)

This time last year, Megan Yurko stopped by The Barrel Racing Blog to check in before she headed off the World Barrel Racing Challenge in Perry, Ga. At the time, Yurko had won two classes at the Congress on her mare, Beea Stash of Money, and was looking forward to a year of barrel racing. Much has changed since her last interview, and this 14-year-old from Wheeling, West Va., has added even more to her barrel racing resume. In just a few short days, Yurko will be making her debut at her first ever International Finals Rodeo. We’ve got her here, though, over the next few days, to tell us all about her and Beea’s dream season on the rodeo road.

Tell us what the highlight of your 2011 year was, other than qualifying for the
IFR?
A huge highlight for me was going to St. Tite in Canada and ending up 13th
in the average out of 110+ girls. Even though they only took the top 10 back to
the short go I was psyched, Beea had a great run in the poring rain, she worked
her tail off (literally, lol) in the mud, I was so proud of her!! We will go
back next year for sure.

What was your worst run this year, and where was it?
I would have to say Sandusky, OH. This was the only rodeo all season out of
40+ rodeos that we hit a barrel and it was completely my fault 😦 Beea is a much
better horse than I am a rider, lol!!

What was your best run?
We have had so many good runs but Beea had a SMOKIN’ run in Dahlonega, GA
winning it by .3 tenths!!

What makes Beea such a talented rodeo horse?
Beea is super consistent and can run on any ground and she thrives on the
noise and excitement, the louder the better. Beea is also super easy to haul,
nothing really bothers her.

Kick Ass Cowgirl Jackie Luffey Harris: Part 3

Today, we’ll finish our series with Jackie Luffey Harris. And today, you’ll learn a few ways to get involved. Jackie is doing more than just raising money–she’s meeting the children and giving them a night out at the rodeo. To my friends in Denver, Jackie will be bringing a little girl in need and her family to the National Western Stock Show and Rodeo, and I know there will be plenty of us in the industry there who can help make this special for her. So, in the Christmas spirit, read Jackie’s interview today and think about how you can help make this world a better place, one rodeo at a time. 

Has your horse rodeoed before? If not, what’s your game plan to get her ready to compete?

Sis has rodeoed a bit. Back when Jeanie owned Hart-Bow ranch I ran in several rodeos there as well as some Bulls and Barrels here and there. My game plan for bigger rodeos, with more distractions, is just to get there early, ride her around and get her acclimated to her surroundings. Typically, once she is in the arena running, not too much distracts her. I am going to work with her this winter as well doing some of the Parelli techniques to get her used to flags, etc, in case I am asked to carry one-as we’ve not had to do so up til this point. All I can do is prepare her the best I can, and then go for it. Every rodeo horse starts somewhere I imagine. I will do as much preparing as I can over winter.

What support have you gotten so far from friends and sponsors, and how can people get involved?

I have gotten great support from my friends and family. They all helped me to win the Kick Ass Cowgirls, which started my bank account for fuel/entry fees for 2012. My boss, Franco Harris will be a money sponsor as well as my sister and husband, Peoples Gas, BB Flenory, Franco’s brother Giuseppe Harris, and The Settle Inn. I’ll use sponsorship money for fuel hauling to events, and anything remaining will be donated back to the charities. I have had a couple companies donate saddle crosses, Cowgirlz Flair and Deuces Wild. Thankfully, I have a hat sponsor as well, Brad at Star of the West Hat Company is designing me a hat-as my hat has seen it’s day! I had it since I was on the youth team at the Quarter Horse Congress back in the 80’s! So, no doubt, I was in need of a new one!

People can get involved with my Race for a Cause, by becoming a money sponsor, or donating items that I will need along the way. More saddle crosses are always needed as they are filling up quickly with initials.

My biggest hope, is for more barrel racers to join me in the “Race for the Cause”, by either joining the Kick Ass Cowgirls “Race for a Cause” contest where they can win prizes in the end, or just to designate a race or two on their own to donate their winnings that particular day to a charity close to their heart. You’ll be amazed at how good you will feel when you come out of the arena with a smoking run knowing you did it for somebody else. I know my donations will only be a pebble dent in what is needed.

Anybody that has placed initials on my crosses can follow my 2012 season either here on Facebook, or I made a blogspot for those that don’t have Facebook.

Now, tell us about your newest venture involving children in need. 

I kinda added more to the “Race for a Cause.” I have decided after watching the NFR and all the commercials about St. Judes and kids fighting cancer–to make it a little more personal as far as who I am trying to raise money for–to meet some families. Therefore, I am going to start taking kids to the rodeos where I compete. But, since I was headed out to Denver for work and going to the National Stock and Rodeo, I thought I’d start the new year off meeting a family.

I will be taking Amy LeClaire–a 10 year old little girl and her family. I have a ton of gifts to go in my goody bag as well. One of my sponsors is giving me a gift card to send with the tickets as well–for the family to go to dinner that night. I can’t wait to meet her! I’ve been getting such overwhwelming support from people wanting to include something for her in the goody bag-to make this a special evening.

If you’d like to get involved, let Chelsea know and she’ll put you in touch with me!

Kick Ass Cowgirl Jackie Luffey Harris: Part 2

Yesterday you got to meet Jackie and learn a little about her mission. Today we’ll introduce you to her friends and her horse and tell you how riding for a cause has changed her life and her barrel racing career.

Will you have a hauling partner for the 2012 season?

My hauling partners will remain the same for the most part as we go to IBRA and Penn Ohio Shows. I haul normally with my good friends Jeanie Bowersock and Darenda McNeely. We always have a great time together and can tease each other like crazy and make fun of each other without getting upset. Natalie Davidson and I have discussed hauling together next year to the rodeos as Jeanie has a young horse not ready for rodeos and Darenda isn’t getting her IPRA card. Natalie and her horse Jeeter have been on fire these last few years so we are both excited!

How is this changing your outlook on life and barrel racing?

It is changing my outlook on life as I have realized how much I do have already and doing something for others has a certain level of pride and confidence that I carry with me now. I have always admired and respected people that did “pay it forward” with their successes in life. I feel really good about doing this for those I lost and for anybody out there that have lost the fight or who is still fighting. I also, typically am quiet, and would never be too outgoing if I did not know somebody. Somehow, with this, it is making me open up more to people I don’t know and is making it possible to make new friends.

As far as how it’s changed my outlook on barrel racing, I noticed that once I determined I was going to do this, I started riding harder. More aggressive, as I feel I am doing it for others. Therefore, I started to consistently have those 1D times. For me, it’s a hobby, it’s not how I make my living. So of course while I wanted to do well, place and succeed which I did, I didn’t have that aggressiveness or determination that I feel I have now. I look down at those crosses filled with names, and want to do each and every one of those names proud. To place as high as possible, win some money to donate, to help those organizations research and help find cures.

Tell us about your horse. (Age, name, breeding, running style.)

Sis (Watch Joe’s Lil Sis) will be 13, and came from Oklahoma. I’ve owned her since she was 4. We’ve had our ups and downs, as she can be quite the handful at times. She isn’t bred for barrels. She started training as a cutting horse. Her Sire is Mr. Watch Joe Doc, outta Mr. Watch Joe Socks, outta Watch Joe Jack and dam Charlies Glory, outta Scooper Lo outta Scooper Joe. Her running style is very close rimming each barrel. She can run so hard to the first barrel you don’t think you’ll wrap it, but she manages. Her first barrel is my favorite. I have to keep her going fairly hard to the 2nd and 3rd barrel, as she turns so close, that if she loses momentum, she wraps so tight, her hip hits them coming out. She’s very easy to ride, and a push style horse. She knows her job well, and never has tried me on pattern. She’s very honest inside the arena and works every time.