Best of the Best in Ohio Qualifier: Valerie Vansickle-Watson

We are so lucky to draw in so many top horses and riders for this race, and Valerie Vansickle-Watson and Seis So Sweet are NO exception, that’s for sure. Seis So Sweet was the standout futurity mare that earned the Congress Sweeps title in a run off, on top of MANY other big wins. We couldn’t be happier to have this combo in the race, and we’re so lucky that Legend Valley Stables jumped in as a saddle sponsor for The Best of the Best in Ohio Slot Race! Wait til you see these Cactus Saddles, phew are they EVER gorgeous.

Tell us about the horse you’re riding.

SEIS SO SWEET aka Sixey Baby, 5-year-old buckskin mare by Tres Seis out of a Takin On The Cash mare. I haven’t had many outs on her. Lance Graves futuritied her last year, winning over $100K including Fort Smith, Hawki, West Virginia, Junior and Sweepstakes barrels at the Congress, and Reserve World Champion at AQHA World Show. I have had many shoulda been runs this year including second fastest time in the consolation round at Ft. Smith.

What’s your ultimate goal in barrel racing?

I would like to win the Congress someday.

What saddle do you ride?

I ride in a Billy Cook.

What bit is in your horse’s mouth?

Six runs in an o-ring.

What supplements do you feed?

Extruded soybean meal and Big Dee’s K&C powder.

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

I always use the same reins on a horse, each horse has their own set of reins.

To whom do you owe most of your success?

My parents. They are always there for me no matter what they’ve always supported me and helped me through everything!

Tell us one fun fact about you or your horse.

Six is a very appreciative mare she likes good luck kisses on the nose!

What charity is closest to your heart?

Breast cancer awareness


Best in the Best Ohio Qualifier: Natalie Davidson


Like Barbara Jimison, Natalie Davidson isn’t new to The Barrel Racing Blog and isn’t new to The Best of the Best in Ohio Charity Slot Race. This year, she’s qualified two horses for the slot race, and we’re excited to see both Jeter and Willis run Sept. 22. She’s branched out this year to be a top rodeo contender as well as jackpotter, and she’s not even the only Davidson in the race. 

Tell us about the horses you’re riding.

Beduinos Easy Streak(Willis) and Ninnekas Jet (Jeter) . Willis is Beduino on his top side and Streakin SIx on the bottom side. I purchased him a year ago off a friend of ours, it was just kinda of a lucky purchase. Orginally she bought him off of Leslie Willis. Jeter is a son of Ninnekah Bug which is a own son of Bugs alive in 75 and Kitty TE which is a own granddaughter of Azure TE. I have owned Jeter for the past 6 years. Raised and trained by Robin Weaver.

What have been your horses’s biggest wins this year and of all time?

I would have to say Jeter’s biggest accomplishment was IBRA OH State Champ, and the 2011 National Finals was a huge accomplishment for us. In every go he placed in the Top 10 and took me back to the short go to place 6th. In the past 2 years we have had out ups and downs trying to keep him going and sound, but he still seems to pull through when I need him the most. He also won and placed at a few IPRA Rodeos for me and I was tickled to death. For Willis I would have to say his biggest wins were winning a few rodeos and placing at others. With it being his and my first year as a team and his first year ever on the rodeo road he has done great. He has helped me make it into the Top 5 current standing of the MSRA.

Order your Charlie to wear during the September Showdown!

What saddle do you ride?

My all time favorite saddle is my Marlene Eddleman which fits both of my horses perfect. Willis gets the joy of having that one on his back, I ride Jeter in a Martin Crown C, which is very comfortable. It’s only fault is its very heavy.

What bit are in your horses’ mouths?

Willis runs in a divided o ring.
Jeter runs is a 3-inch shank Dutton snaffle with a copper wire wrap.

What supplements do you feed?

Purina Race Ready feed, Hylaronex joint supplement, Adequan, and Fastrack.

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

I will not leave home for a barrel race without my horse ; )

To whom do you owe most of your success?

I owe most of my success honestly to Jeter and my family, without the purchase of him I don’t think I would have made it this far.

Tell us one fun fact about you or your horse.

I don’t know if this is fun but don’t try hauling Willis anywhere on the trailer besides the end, and when entering the arena prepare to do the tiger hop.

What charity is closest to your heart?

St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital

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

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!

Benefit for Chardon Healing Fund at Blue Lakes Farms April 28

WOW have there been a ton of races to go to lately or what?! I’m jealous I’m not in Ohio or Pennsylvania to soak up the fun like you all are. (Because Lord knows FUN is the only thing you’ve been soaking up lately… I hear your weather has been rough! Ok, maybe y’all were soaking up some blue juice or purple juice or whatever it is that Shug and Sarah and Guido keep around.)

Anyways, I want to let you know about a great barrel race for a really great cause. The folks at Blue Lakes Arena in Newbury, Ohio, are hosting a $350 NBHA-sanctioned show to benefit the Chardon Healing Fund. I received this note from Amy Snyder on her race:

On 2/27/12, tragedy hit NE Ohio at Chardon High School as you know NBHA is made up of districts, Geauga County is the heart of my district where Chardon is located.  This shooting has affected a lot of my members, especially my youth members, and they came together and wanted to take our first show and turn it into a fundraiser. 
We will be having Krystal Dyer singing Amazing Grace at 1 p.m. before our cake walk, we are having a lot of the general public along with barrel racers supporting this event. It is open to the public. During the day we will be having a silent auction in our lobby, we have some great items already donated by Bar N LLC, Need for Bling, Cowgirls are Forever, Big Dee’s, Tommy’s Jerky,  All American Car Wash, Winking Lizard, Cortland Western Reserve COOP, True Belue Kristine Nagy and many more I don’t even know about at this time. 
I want to make sure everyone knows about this, so you can all attend if you’re around for this great cause.

Here’s the showbill:

An added note: the idea of running for $250 added in an open class with only a $20 EF boggles my little mind. Almost every $200 jackpot sanctioned here in Colorado by our main association has a $47 entree fee with a $5 office fee. Y’all are barrel racing on the CHEAP and I’m WAY jealous!

The Best of the Best in Ohio Barrel Race Showbill and Qualifying Info

It’s here it’s here! I’ve been a slacker lately and haven’t had much time for anything other than work work work, but I’ve got plenty to give you now! Here’s all of the info on The Best of the Best in Ohio Barrel Race and our three-day weekend barrel race and pole bending this September.

This year we’re doing the qualifying a LITTLE differently, and we want you to be sure to get your 1D placing in to be eligible to enter The Best of the Best. Make sure you head to the MVP show to try to get qualified.

Barrel Racing’s Big Inspiration: Shirley Blauser

We are all SO lucky today! The fabulous Shirley Blauser is on The Barrel Racing Blog to give us all a little KICK in the butt. If you’re feeling a little down, unmotivated or tired, read on. Shirley went through a horrible and painful ordeal this winter, and she fought to be back on her feet and soon to be back in the saddle. 

Tell us about your accident. What happened, how did it happen, and what do you remember first after the crash?
I was at Waynesburg, Nov. 12, 2011 at a barrel race. As I came in to the arena and ready to turn the first barrel, a tiny twist of my body in my saddle blew my pelvis. When this happened, I tipped to the left. Honor (my horse) evidently thought I was going to fall off and he went to the rail. At the time I remember thinking ‘Why did I pull him to the rail?’ and then remembered I was hanging on to the horn with my left hand so I couldn’t have done it. After watching the video you could see that he did it on his own. (What a great horse!) We came around the barrel and I got him slowed down and went back to the gate. At this time I felt like someone had thrown a bucket of scalding water in my crotch area. Turns out that feeling came from the fact that my stomach muscles had exploded along with my pelvis. As soon as that pain passed, it was total numbness and no more pain. Bert Thompson came over to me and asked if I was okay. I said I need to get off this horse right now. She yelled for help and about 25 people came running.

I couldn’t get my right leg out of the stirrup so a couple of guys came around and took it out and walked it across Honor’s butt and stood it beside the left one. Then 3 guys held me by my waist and lifted me out of the left stirrup and set me down. They came up with an arm chair and set me in it and carried me to the restroom because of the feeling I had with the scalding water. I had felt soaked but I was totally dry. Then we bickered about calling an ambulance-I said NO ambulance. As luck would have it, Mari Beth Guido’s husband Albert had driven his car to the show that day so they loaded me in to it and Mari and Shayne took me to Waynesburg Hospital. One of the gals at the show worked at the hospital so she called ahead and they were waiting on me when we got there. The doctor took an xray and told me there was nothing he could do for me and that he was sending me to the Trauma Center in Pittsburgh. At that time my heart sank because I realized then that it was something really serious.

I spent the night there and they took me by ambulance Sunday morning to Pittsburgh. On Monday morning they did surgery. I had what they called an “open book” pelvic injury. It wasn’t broken, it had separated from my spine and had a 6 cm spread in it and my spinal cord was 2 cm away from being severed. The right and left sacroiliac joints were also fractured. I dread to think what could have happened if I had fallen off. I guess I prefer not to think about that!!! I just layed there on Sunday because no surgeries were done on Sunday. On Monday morning they took me to surgery.

The doctor had to put a plate and screws in my pelvis to bring it together. He couldn’t repair my stomach muscles so he called in another surgeon and she couldn’t do them either. A plastic surgeon was called at this time. The plastic surgeon would be there on Tuesday so they left the incision open and I went back to surgery on Tuesday morning. I now have mesh in my stomach holding the muscles together. I spent 12 days in the hospital and got to come home on Thanksgiving day. The orthopedic surgeon at that time told me I would be off my feet for 3 months and rehab for 3 more months.

On Dec. 8 I went back to the doctor for a follow-up and an xray. He told me it looked really good and to make another appointment for 5 weeks and he would start me walking. I’m thinking “WOW”. So on Jan. 12 exactly 2 months after the mishap he took another xray and said it was excellent and I could start walking. I came home ‘and started walking’. No walker, no cane, nothing. Even though I didn’t feel that I needed therapy because I had continued every day to exercise in my bed, determined not to lose my leg muscles I made an appointment with the therapist. The therapist after checking me and putting me through some exercises told me there wasn’t really any need for her. On February 1 I went back to my job which is driving school bus. I’m still a little stiff when I get up in the morning but I can handle that!! The doctor told me I can start riding in March after my follow-up visit with him and hopefully my last visit.

Who has helped you the most throughout this process?
My husband was my crutch through this whole time. For 2 weeks I think, he hardly left my side except to do chores and feed the horses. He cooked and did dishes, which is something he had NEVER done!!! The only thing he wasn’t good at was cleaning the house, but he told me that would wait on me. Oh well!! He was right, it did wait on me.
What have your grandbabies been doing to keep your spirits up?
As for my grandsons, Bryer and Trap, they spent a lot of time helping Grandpa in the barn doing the things that was my job. Bryer is Grandpa’s right hand man. And Shayne was my right arm always getting the things that I needed.

What is your goal for the next six months?
My goal is to be barrelracing by May if not before. Actually the horses got a well deserved vacation during this time. I feel that I’m a pretty lucky woman to be walking exactly 2 months after it happened considering it was to be 3 months down and 3 months rehab in the beginning.

I would have to say GOD was definitely looking out for me on November 12.

Thank you GOD!!!!!!!!!!And everyone else that helped in this time of my need.

What keeps you motivated to keep getting better?
My motivation for getting better is that I’m not a quitter. What do they say, “Quitters never Win” That’s my goal when I come back riding.