Headed to Red Deer in ninth position is Jenna O’Reilly of Millarville, Alberta, with $18,882.02 won in the 2019 season. A huge highlight to make mention of would be making it to the showdown round of the Ponoka Stampede as the lone Canadian. Jenna was fourth in round one, and third in the long go, taking home just under $10,000 there alone.
Jenna grew up on a horse ranch, riding cutting, sorting, penning and working cow horses with her mom, who is a horse trainer. Her Dad was a pick up man at various rodeos and she always loved the barrel racing. She started as a peewee and went through Junior High School Rodeo, High School Rodeo, and the amateur ranks. Eventually Jenna took a four year break from competing while she was in University, and in that time acquired her main mount, Xrey (by Dual Rey, out of Becky’s Haida)
Along with XRey, Jenna will also be bringing Eryn Coy’s great horse Dagwood (Pepoco Feature, by Peppy San Feature out of Poco Frankiedell, a Poco Nucents Tab mare)
What quirks does your horse/horses have & what is their style?
Xrey is complex to say the least!! He is a very kind and timid horse to handle. He tries his hardest to be good but can be frightened easily. He can be fussy with the vet or farrier and has a very severe clover allergy. He has also always been extremely hard to catch for different people! He loves curry comb massages and cookies are the way to his heart.
He is confident when he finds the alley, he stays straight and collected in his runs, he can go into his barrels fast and turn hard, he is powerful and has a big stride for his small size.
Dagwood is easy going and so good to handle. He loves running and barrel racing but will toss his head when you are exercising him or warming him up until he gets to run. He is so gritty and honest and will never run by a barrel. I’ve never rode a horse I can push to first as hard as I can and he’ll turn every time.
Where did you purchase/find your horse?
When I was away at school my mom bought Xrey to potentially sell to one of her clients, not realizing he was a bit quirky. She ended up breaking her leg in the summer and I got to ride everything she had at the time. So she never got him back!
What would you say is your horses weakness?
Xrey being as timid as he is can get him into trouble.
Did you ever almost give up with your main mount?
I have definitely been discouraged when it comes to rodeoing. Not so much with Xrey, I don’t think anyone ever expected him to be a barrel horse so every tiny accompaniment means a lot!
With all the miles made, varying ground conditions, and expenses, what kept the CFR dream alive for you this year? Tell us about the highs and the lows.
It’s been years of experimenting with everything that came together a little more this year, Xrey has always stayed willing to keep trying for me and that keeps me confident.
What do you do to keep a sharp mental edge in the game of rodeo? How do you stay motivated throughout the season?
Just focusing on my horse and the pattern and making my run count. Also remembering this is supposed to be fun.
What does your feed program look like, keeping your horses in peak condition going down the road and even in the off season?
Xrey eats mostly soaked alfalfa & grass cubes to limit any dust or clover, I mix with Hoffman’s Elite and CEP daily lung. I keep a Sweetpro tub in his pen and always have electrolytes and a nebulizer on the road.
What do you do to condition your horses leading up to the season, and what does your pre CFR routine consist of?
I exercise and breeze him mainly outside, giving a little time off after hauling. If I get a chance to go work buffalo or move cows at my parents he loves that. If I work barrels with him it is light and very slow work. I try to work and run other horses to keep myself sharp without overdoing it for him.
What is an exercise you include in your routine to keep your horses working how you like them to that may help someone else?
Collected “perfect” circles and shoulders whether I’m in a field or arena, with barrels or without. It seems simple but can show you where you’re cheating. Lots of backing up as well.
What is the best advice you’ve ever been told regarding life, horses, rodeo or barrel racing?
To be smart about the mistakes you’ve made, note them and move on.
What has been your most memorable run over the years, can be most embarrassing or run of your life?
It was at a little jackpot in Okotoks, I hadn’t been out barrel racing in years. I was actually terrified to go but had been patterning Xrey at home for way too long at that point. It was little but he won it and loved it, and I had a reason to start going again.
What is your favourite barrel racing bloodline, and what do you look for in a prospect?
My favourite I’ve gotten to try so far is Corona cartel, they are so naturally hard running and tough. When I try a horse I like them to be enthusiastic and elevated with their shoulders.
What is the one thing you cannot live without on the road?
My Corgi, Honey.
If you could make a run on any one of the other CFR qualifiers horses which one would you choose and why?
Cartel of Jackie Ganters, he has a very cool style.
Who is your barrel racing idol?
Sherry Cervi because I love how her horses work, and the way she rides.
What would you be doing if you were not barrel racing/rodeoing?
I would want to be a vet.
Favourite podcast to listen to on the road?
Married with Horses.
I can’t thank the Coy family enough for giving me Dagwood to run. Thanks to my job Rocking Horse Industries for sponsoring me and letting me leave all the time for rodeos! Kim Hodgins Equi-librium Equine Therapy for keeping Xrey feeling great all summer, Running man halters for their amazing custom halters and also big thank you to my vets Susan Schaal, Erin Thompson and Bailee Stanton.
*photo submitted by Jenna