Inspiration Lifestyle

Leaving Barrel Racer Land

Early 2017 my mare, the great Stella Rey (by Stylish Rey and out of Duels Miss Lily who is by Dual Pep) was “off”. I chose to give her time off. I felt that sometimes we overlook what time can do for a horse, and I was alright taking a mental and financial break from barrel racing. Fast forward the year and it turned out she had cysts growing by the fetlock joint causing her to be uncomfortable. Surgeries on cysts in the stifle have been successful, but in her case there was not enough studies done to say it was a safe bet. I ended up selling her as broodmare sound, as I am not currently interested in breeding, and she gets to be completely spoiled and raise the cutest (I am biased) babies in Canada for the years to come.

I have not purchased a new project, and don’t plan on doing so for a while, or until the time is right. Stella was my dream horse. We were perfectly in sync. She was the most honest horse I ever rode; running exactly where I asked her to, turning hard when cued. She was everything.

Rewind back to before 2007. I was riding Arabian horses, and showing B circuit shows on my faithful 4H horse, Tuf. I had the same bunch of friends I had had my entire life, and knew I wasn’t going to go much further goal wise as showing A circuit was far out of our price range and I already went to and won at the local shows. I needed a change. I found the Alberta Barrel Racing Association thanks to my cousin, and was welcomed to Barrel Racer Land (BRL). This ultimately led me to meet the majority of all of my close friends and acquaintances, to start this blog, to being a published writer, to years of experiences and happy times which I would not trade for anything in the world.

In the last ten years of my barrel racing “career”, I did not make a rodeo finals, I did not win the world, I did not win huge money or several fancy buckles.

I did get to run at ABRA finals on my 4H horse and make over $2500 at finals that year and win my first ever buckle; a lovely Troy Fischer 3D buckle.
I did get to purchase horses that challenged me and helped shape me as a barrel racer.
I did get to make friends with women I looked up to/idolized when I began barrel racing.
I did get to learn how hugely important the mental game is in our sport
I did get to go to Texas with one of my idols and run against some of the best.
I did get to run a pro horse, place at rodeos, learn how people/friends react when you are succeeding and they are not (insert mental game knowledge)
I did get to hear “thats your new leader”, which really is one of most AMAZING things to hear in the world.
I did get to own my dream horse
I did get to make Futurity Short-Gos with some of the best in North America.

I got to accomplish all of that thanks to an amazing supportive network of barrel racers. How wonderful is that? We often complain that barrel racers are all catty, mean, and ruthless,  and sure, sometimes that is the honest truth. But we don’t give one another enough credit for the positive outcomes of those we know in this sport and how they shape our lives. I hope that you can sit back and look at how far you have come since entering the “barrel racing world” looking passed the drama and BS. Focus on all the great people who have helped you get where you are today. The great experiences you have had in BRL. I personally have grown so much as a person in the last few years, to a person I am happy to be, thanks to those I chose to surround myself with.

I have sold everything I owned related to barrel racing, and I know you’re not supposed to sell your saddle; but if you know me, you know I will buy and sell another two before finding the right one for my next horse anyway!  I cry at night watching videos of Stella and I. I am torn about walking away for a bit as I identified as “a barrel racer” and started to feel lost without that label. But I have been reminded that I am more than just that. Not in that, that label is a bad one, but that there is more to me than just the hobby I have had for the last ten years. I am a daughter, sister, friend, aunty, mentor, writer, blogger, runner, girl boss, shirt designer, event planner, influencer, and more.

Know what I miss the most? I miss hearing the girl-before-me’s time, & the seconds before hearing our names be called. I miss hearing my heartbeat, and Stellas before going in, where everything else faded, time stood still and it was just her and I. I miss running down that alley, 9-O, with full trust in her that she would turn first barrel, like I asked her to, each and every time. I miss the woosh feeling when she would turn second barrel, ’cause it was my favourite on her. I miss running flat out from third across the line, hearing her hoofbeats in the dirt and friends cheering in the background. I have a lump in my throat writing all of that. It wasn’t just on her. It was on the horses before her too. And the summer I got to run the little badass named, JL. I miss putting in the hours, the hard work and dedication, and seeing results. I miss the heartache. The early mornings. Freezing my ass off (just kidding, I don’t miss this, though my ass is still frozen as I live in Canada.) I miss driving several hours for one run, just to turn around and head home. I miss it all.

But in due time, I will be back to write another chapter in my life in BRL. We are so lucky that there is no time limit on this sport. We can come back when the time is right. We can keep going like Mary Burger and make Wrangler NFR and Calgary Stampede in our sixties if we want to. But in the meantime, I am so thankful to have this website so that I can stay connected to the barrel racing and rodeo world. I am thankful for all the connections the sport has made for me. I am thankful I am able to keep the barrel racing world informed and updated with whats happening. I am not completely leaving Barrel Racer Land, just in part.

I’d like to extend a heartfelt thank you for your continued support in this endeavour, and all the best to you all in 2018!


  • Reply
    Michelle Miller
    February 4, 2018 at 11:33 am

    What a fantastic article. Thank you for the reminder of what wonderful things come with being a barrel racer. Though we all strive to be at the top, that’s not really what it’s all about. It’s about the journey.

  • Reply
    Tanya Blacklaw
    February 4, 2018 at 12:34 pm

    Thank you for Sharing! This made me cry! You will be back at it in now time.

  • Reply
    Ronda gonsales
    February 4, 2018 at 6:52 pm

    I just got back home from the burns extream barrel race in fort Mojave, az and had a crappy weekend. I lost my good mares 2 yrs ago, she was like your mare Stella, went in did her job, made it fun for me. I had years with her, then my daughter, then back to me. I’m on a new horse now, and struggling, I needed to read this today , to remind me of all the good things.. Thank you for the inspiration

  • Reply
    February 5, 2018 at 12:29 pm


    I just wanted to acknowledge the beautiful article you wrote yesterday with such raw emotion.

    I understand so many of your feelings about being out of BRL for over a year now. Sometimes these kinds of choices are made by us and other times the choice is made for us.

    You are one of Canada’s strongest Barrel Racing advocates and you have gracefully and actively proven that you can support the barrel racing industry without actually being aboard horse.

    Keep on doing you! You have more support than you even know !!

  • Reply
    February 6, 2018 at 9:57 pm

    Fabulous piece! Brought tears to my eyes thinking about how much we all dedicate and identify with our lifestyle. All of our pastimes and friends and even family revolve around it. I didn’t sit in a saddle for four years and trust me you won’t miss a beat when you do get back on. When rodeo or western lifestyle is a part of you it always brings you back. Best of luck!

  • Reply
    December 27, 2019 at 9:16 pm

    Nice article, your Stella ran hard and smoked those barrels in the video, love the grit and try I saw in her there. Very special mare, maybe get one of her babies?

  • Reply
    TB Hues
    December 29, 2019 at 6:55 pm

    Wow.. What a horse and what an insync team two. I know what you mean about those rushes and flashes…thats why i still do it some! Not that often..just here and there. Happy New Year!

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