Loading a horse in the blistering heat, into a big metal box sounds fun right? Not right. Loading. Unloading. Loading again. Loading the tack. Conversations floating around about how we’re probably going to be late. But, better late than never. I realized that when I speeding down interstate 80 doing about 90 miles per hour with a horse trailer, the stress just fades away.
2016. Wow, I thought I was so good when it came to riding. I was so wrong. I had so much to work on, with my new horse Sadie. I went from a mare who just ran the pattern and put her whole heart into it, to a mare that you had to really work if you wanted a solid pattern out of her. Big change, if you know how to ride, which I really didn’t. Sure, I had been on horses my whole entire life. And by horses, I mean miniature ponies when I was little, to ponies who rolled on me on gravel roads, to the big boy horses, which I was running with the big kids. Sadie, was my top notch, big girl horse. This is the horse that taught me so much.
In the world of barrel racing, you do not want to touch one of the three metal cans, called a barrel. When you do, you either end up with a sore horse, or seventeen bruises, depending on if it’s you, or your horse that hits it If you love your horse, you’d gladly take all those bruises over chancing that your horse gets sore. Because horses are expensive, and so are vets. Being honest they don’t care, because they get hurt somehow anyway. That’s beside the point. In 2016, I went on a 3 month streak of hitting a barrel. Every. Single. Weekend. For. Three. Months. Straight. My self-esteem was so low. I was so close to selling the gosh dang horse. I was so mad all the time. I got to the point where horse showing and barrel racing was about to come to an end for me.
“I’m so annoyed! What am I doing wrong? I literally ride the way Chloe told me too! She’s push style, and I am pushing!” I paced back and forth ranting and complaining about my own mistakes to my lifesaver and support system, my grandpa. He was with me at every show I was at. He took me to horse shows since I was like 4 years old. He threw me on any horse he could find really, told me to ‘Hang On’, and chances are I was scared for my life because when you’re 8 years old, and on some large horse that just knows how to run and turn, it’s kind of scary.
2016 was rough. I entered barrel races all summer, and the whole time I was internally screaming at myself because I just thought I was a terrible rider. Turns out I was, and it made Sadie just hate me the whole time. 2016 was definitely a learning experience for me, and I am so very thankful for it. Even though I wanted to punch myself in the face most the time, because I was mad at my horse when I had really no right to be, because they were all rider error. 2016 sure did teach me well.
I thought 2017 would be a good year too. My whole 2017, and my life got turned upside down at the end of January. Saturday, January 28th, I didn’t expect that I wasn’t going to make it to South Dakota for the Stock Show. I didn’t expect to be in a horrible accident that would make me lose my best friend. The only father I had known, an amazing influence, and a best friend were the biggest losses of the whole year. That horrible day, horses were the last thing on my mind. Until I got back to Iowa. Then it wasn’t the same. Pulling into driveway of the house I’d lived in my whole life, and it felt like a strange, cold place is difficult.
My horses kept me together though. I honestly don’t think I would be the person I am today without my horses. One thing my grandpa always taught me, is if you just have to be strong if you want to get anywhere. Hold your head up high, and just keep going.
2017 was a strange, long year. I started off the year by myself, and honestly ended the year by myself. Showing horses and barrel racing was so different. I went from being so excited to go to a barrel race, to skipping most of them because it was ‘too hard’, which was true, but at the same time it was an excuse. It was hard, and still is hard. But it just never felt the same. I turned into the girl I never really thought I would be. I shut everyone out, including almost all of my family, lost most of my friends, and just kept going on by myself.
Strangely enough, the extremely full-of-herself, mean, chestnut mare was still there. I still think to myself, you should have sold her when you had the chance. But every day I look at her outside, and am so thankful that she is still mine. In the beginning of 2017, we were a hot mess. Sadie was not legged up, at all, and she was morbidly obese because she chased all the horses away to eat all the food herself. Silly pony.
I never got on Sadie until May 27th, of 2017. If I was the rider I was in 2016, I would have been on her on February 8th if I had the chance. I just wasn’t feeling it I guess.
Based on how 2016 went, I figured my 2017 was going to be just as terrible as my 2016 went. Boy, was I wrong. That crazy little redhead of mine was definitely on fire for that year.
To start it off, I didn’t really join any clubs this year because I wasn’t quite sure how much I would ride which was dumb on my part, because we could have done so well. Whoops, silly me.
Let’s start the year off right. I had no truck, and once I finally got my big old Edna, I decided it would just make my whole year to break my trailer jack. Yes Tac, I’m so proud of you. Not. Anyway, my trailer was broken until August, but that’s not THAT big of a deal.
First couple of races of 2017, I just thought to myself... What? What’s happening? Why are we winning? This is not normal. The streak just kept coming. Different races all over Iowa, and different amounts for the check that I would be receiving.
July 21st, 2017 will always be a date that I remember. I met Ashley in Preston, and originally we just planned on following each other. Well, does anything go as planned?
We leave at 3:30 for the rodeo at West Liberty, which is already like an hour or more away. I’m following Ashley and all the sudden, there’s one less tire on her trailer. She pulled over, frustrated.
“Girl, we are gonna be late. But when aren’t we?” I said trying to lighten the mood.
“It’s 900 degrees out here, the horses are in the trailer, and we don’t have a spare.” Ashely says, pulling Kaylee, her daughter into a hug, and looking at the trailer fender that just fell off. Just then I got the bright idea.
“Ashley! I have a three horse. Let me put Pegasus in yours and after your dad and Jacob come and fix it, we can just take off in mine after they get here.” I suggested. She agreed so we waited until our wonderful pit crew came and started to take care of the situation. We loaded Sadie, Maggie, and Reba in our trailer. I hopped in the driver’s seat and off we went.
85 miles per hour, and about an hour and a half later we arrive. Until I pull into the grounds, and run into the side of a wall with my trailer. There is only one dent, I promise. I figured the night was going to go bad, based on the events I had experienced.
We get warmed up and wait for the rodeo to be over, because we are in slack. Ew. I remember I looked at the list, and I was the second draw. That’s when they had 3 runners left and I was so confused because I paid my 40 dollar entry fee, and I didn’t get to run. I knew the owner of the company thankfully.
“Tim, I didn’t get to run!” I said nervously.
“Name? Oh, okay, Taciana. You can be the last runner.” He said, signaling up to the announcer’s stand.
Honestly, I was not prepared for that run. Normally I pray before my run. I had no time, so I just prayed during my run instead. It’s hard to pray and focus on not falling off a running horse at the same time, but trust me, I managed it somehow.
I came out with a time that I thought was bad. It ended up cutting me a fourth place check, coming out on top of ladies who have barrel racing longer than I have been alive.
The rest of my 2017 went about the same way. I started cutting bigger checks, and placing and winning at many different shows. That’s when state fair came into play.
When you think of state fair, you’re probably thinking of 4-H kids on trail horses just doing it for fun. Wrong. It’s cut throat. $15,000 horses that are wrapped in bubble wrap for a 3 minute walk from the stall to the arena. Saddles and bridles that have so much silver and bling, they end up looking like a disco ball. It’s the smell of Peppy, hoof polish, and tons, and tons of hairspray. Expensive shirts, and show tack. Did I mention all the hairspray? It makes you choke as soon as you walk into the 4-H barn. Thank God, I was in the FFA barn. You didn’t choke as much in that one.
State fair was a bit of a mess. I decided to go out with a girl from a different chapter, and it was fun. Until I got there. The psycho redhead was afraid of the stall, and it took about 30 minutes to convince her that a big metal box of pine shavings was not going to eat her. She disagreed.
I was here for 2 days before I did anything at all. It was dumb. I rode and walked her out daily, to make sure that she didn’t get stiff, or ty-up. Walks to the warm up pen were quite hectic. 17 hand English horses with braided manes were not my competition. All the fancy show girls looked at my little ranch pony like she was missing a leg. 14.3 hands compared to 17 is quite the difference.
State fair definitely payed off. Mr. Frost came to support, and he made all of us girls quite the promise.
“If you all stick your flag, I’ll use one of your horses and do it.” Frost promised.
I was second up to do flags. The first one of our girls stuck theirs, and I was about up. I took a few deep breaths, and stuck my flag. I ended up 3rd out of about 75 riders in flags, 8th in barrel racing out of closer to 90 people, and about 15th in poles because we decided to run one of them over.
Speeding everywhere is a learned skill, and I wouldn’t want to do it with anyone other than my favorite show people. Loading, unloading, and loading again gets tiring, but I wouldn’t trade it for the world. Plus, getting money for a hobby you love pays off every time. Even when you lose, it’s a lesson that you must have needed to learn.