Mary Walker is no stranger to the National Finals Rodeo, but she is a fresh face on Lipstick & Cowboy Boots. The Ennis, Texas resident had a smokin’ 2016 season where she finished in 3rd position after 75 rodeos and $$112,815.95.
Walker won $2,534.42 from Denver, CO, $4,623.98 in San Angelo, Tx, won the 1st go, average and final round in Tuscon, AZ for over $7000, she dominated all three rounds of her Super Series at Houston taking home $3000 in each, $4,2847 in Kissimmee, FL, $2,564.32 in Rosenberg, TX, $3,294.70 at Lewiston, ID, $2.942.20 in Pueblo, CO, and $2,052.96 in Kalispell, MT. Those are just rodeos where she won over $2000, I didn’t include those under $2k.
If you live under a rock and are unfamiliar with Walker, she is married to 16-time Wrangler NFR Steer Wrestling Qualifier and 1981 World Champion Byron Walker. On April 23, 2011 Mary lost her only son in a car accident. Just over a month later Mary and Perculatin (Latte) fell at a barrel race. Mary was confined to a wheelchair for four months after receiving surgery. She had eight plates and eleven pins to stabilize her hip that she had broken in three places. She had also shattered her pelvis, had two fractured vertebrae and broke two toes. It wasn’t long after her rehab that she began to set her sights on the 2012 National Finals Rodeo. In 2012 Mary not only made the Wrangler NFR, she won the World with a total of $274,233.28 won. If that doesn’t give you chills, I don’t know what will.
Perculatin aka. Latte is a 2004 gelding out of Dash for Perks and Curiocity Corners, a Silver Lucky Buck mare.
Do Latte & Bojangles have any quirks?
Latte has a lot of strange things he does: he always rubs his left front leg when you warm him up. He doesn’t like white lead ropes. He walks all over you. He doesn’t do that to men just woman. He likes his water as soon as he gets through running. I sold Bojangles but some of his strange things were he would not go into a strange stall or wash rack. You would have to back him in. And of course he loved his butt scratched and would about run over you to get it scratched. His new owner is now dealing with the same thing.
Mary and Latte at the Calgary Stampede
How would you describe their style?
Both horses are push style horses. Very smooth and long strides. Both horses are very responsive to whatever you want them to do. If you ever even whisper the word “whoa” they will stop immediately.
What are your favorite bloodlines for barrel racing? I am not to big on bloodlines. I think if the horse has the mind and the heart it takes to make a rodeo horse it really doesn’t make that big of a difference.
With all the miles made, varying ground conditions, and expenses, what kept the NFR dream alive for you?
Dreaming of making the NFR takes a lot of dedication. When you work as hard as it takes you can’t quit. You are usually only to get that great horse once in a life time so you should take advantage and just make it work.
We all know that being competitive takes mental strength. What do you do to keep a sharp mental edge in the game of rodeo? Do you do anything before a run to keep your nerves in check? Before my runs I have usually spent all day preparing for that run. You have practiced and made sure everything is good so when the time comes you have already run it thru your head so everything comes pretty natural. I try not to get over excited. Take some deep breaths and get to myself and don’t watch anyone else.
Mary with Canadian Finals Rodeo qualifier & Calgary Stampede board member Toni Dixon
What is your go to product or therapy for keeping your horses sound for the season?
My Ice-vibe boots from Horseware is my always go to. I make sure Latte legs a properly taking care of after his runs. I use Platinum Performance everyday In his feed. It keeps him healthy and his coat is always shiny.
What is the best advice you’ve ever been given regarding barrel racing?
Take the wins as well as the losses. It can be and up and down roller coaster.
What would you like to see be done in the industry to better rodeo as a sport?
Being able to better rodeo as a sport is to always look professional so that our younger generation has something to look up to. It all starts in the junior division and teaching them to become the best athletes we can will help them to be.
Sherwood Park, AB- The wind and rain from the weekend created a lot of mud, but didn’t stop the 2nd Annual Trach Law Cans & Calves Invitational event from running today, though a group vote did move it to the indoor arena. John Deere Gators were up for grabs for those who could beat last years times that were run in the outdoor arena, but because of the move inside, the Gators will have to wait to go to their new homes in 2016. Today paid out $28,600 and had stunning Troy Fischer Buckles to both the Champion and Reserve Champion in each event.
35 of the best names in Tie Down Roping from Alberta ran in two go rounds, as well as 35 of the top Barrel Racers. The Top Ten in the average went to a showdown, and in the barrel racing it was a horse race! An arena record was set by Kandi Horn with a 12.620. She had a flawless run. Reserve Champion Brandy McPhee ran a 12.787, Third to Amy McDonald with a 12.841, Fourth to Caitlin Stark with a 12.845, and Fifth to Carolyn Knapp running a 12.995. In the Tie Down Roping, Dean Edge won with a 8.4. Reserve Champion was Kyle Lucas with a 8.6, Third was a tie for Stacy Cornet & Darren Dublanko who each ran a 9.0, and Murray Pole with a 10.0 rounded out the pack.
Both barrel racers and ropers showed their support for Jace Thorsteinson wearing red shirts. Jace is a junior roper who was in an unfortunate roping accident and is in hospital. Check out the Jace Thorsteinson Benefit Auction on Facebook if you would like to help with bidding or donating an item.
For most of the event, I sat at the far end, where third barrel would be. This is where Still Meadows Ranch owner, Maxine Rusnak usually sits. I personally have rode at this arena all my life and have known Maxine just as long. She suffers from MS and isn’t able to move around without the help of her health aid. Today she had a day pass from the hospital. I bring this up because as I sat there, almost every competitor, both roper and racer, came down to personally thank Maxine for donating the use of the arena for the event. I cannot find the words to express how happy it made me to see everyone do this.
Another thing I noticed about the event, was that everyone was very positive, supportive, and friendly. Watching the roping, I loved that everyone cheered and supported one another with each run. Hearing the barrel racers praise one another for their great runs also brought a smile to my face. This is why producer, Lisa Trach puts on the event.
“Honestly, when I decided to do the event I was in a sort of sad place in my life. When I am sad, I read… Self help books and the like. I read an article about how, if you dive into the things you love you will meet people who will be the right people for your life. So I decided to have the jackpot… One where I could invite a group of competitors that were not only super talented but also positive, we have a strict no bitches no whiners rule!
Naturally I went to my Still Meadows family for help and, like always, they came through 100 times more than I could have ever expected. Because Jeff Drisner suffers with us barrel racers all year, we wanted to give back to him so we added the calves. That has been a huge reward for me! Our calf ropers both years have been so great.
The event is everything I had hoped for. It did what the book said; It surrounded me with the best people. I got to meet new people, and most of all I get to give back to a community that is responsible for my sanity. Because in all times in my life where I have struggled, it has been my horses and the people in my life that share my love of horses that have saved me when I would have otherwise drowned.
I only wish I could give more to the big family of people in rodeo. This jackpot is my tiny contribution. I hope it grows and grows.”
I personally look forward to attending this event next year. I hope that you can join as well! Check out the two winning runs below, and each of the top ten runs can be found on the Lipstick & Cowboy Boots Youtube channel.
Dean Edge’s Winning Run – 8.4
Kandi Horn’s Winning Run – 12.620
Diane Skodopole’s honourable mention run. Across the line with a 12.394, plus 5 for a tipped first.
As of late in Social Media we have been witness to many bashing the way people train, or bashing those who are taking horses in for training amongst the usual he said, she said typical gossip and rants. Jessie Vandenbroek and Kirsten Gjerde are well spoken, and friends of mine, so I asked them to come up with something regarding this issue, as I wanted to have a guest writer on the blog! It’s also good timing as many are looking to send their young horses away but sometimes have a hard time deciding who to send their animal to, and can get misguided with all the things a person sees on social media.
When you read this piece I hope that you read this with an open mind, and can take away something positive from it, or maybe see something in a different light. If you care to bash this piece in any way, please stop following my blog and keep your negative comments to yourself. I have NO need for that sort of thing. I am currently on a kind word diet, and I am avoiding negative BS as if its Ebola.
“This is a hard world to break into. Barrel racers are selfish, greedy, cutthroat and compassion-less. Wait, no, that’s Pirates. Pirates are selfish, greedy, cutthroat and compassion-less. So why do I feel like every time I log into Facebook lately I am being met with drama caused by mean scoundrels? What is going on in barrel racing? I can attribute this crack in the surface of criticism to a couple of things. First, there are some big rising stars coming out, and a lot of them are young. Second, the game is getting tougher, big money is still everywhere but with the sport beginning to boom, our American friends venturing up for a piece of the Maple pie and the mass introduction of the infamous 5D, there are more barrel racers chomping at the bit. And hey, we all have a bit of cabin fever right now, am I right?
Admit it, we are all sorry 😉
So let’s talk trainers. Jessie and I had a funny text conversation the other day when a woman was posting about inexperienced people providing training and instruction to the public. One thing I think everyone is beginning to learn about Canadian barrel racers is that we will bicker, can be competitive and gossip but when someone slips and tries to nail a friend on social media, Lord have mercy on their silly soul. So we were texting away because although we have both done well through all levels of barrel competition, it never seems like it’s quite good enough. If you start making some jackpot money, well you haven’t made amateur money, if you start making amateur money well you haven’t made a finals, if you make a finals well you haven’t won the saddle, if you win the saddle well you’re just an amateur barrel racer, try breaking in at the pros. If you start making some CPRA cheques well you haven’t made CFR, if you make CFR well that’s good but you’re nothing compared to those NFR girls. If you make the NFR well you haven’t won the world, and if you win the world, you haven’t done it twice. If you do it 11 times, if you ARE Charmayne James, well you haven’t done it lately, it’s a new game now. Whoa. I doubt there is one person who just read that little blurb and thought,”No she’s wrong, I respect all levels of trainers and riders.” We all have that one person who we eye roll about when someone says they are riding with them, me included. But why? What makes a good trainer?”
“When people ask me who they should ride with or get training from, I generally ask them who they want to ride like or whose horses they admire. If you are an aggressive rider and want to perfect how to ride aggressive, look at who has a similar style and is successful. Also, if you are striving to be a quiet rider and to have a horse that goes out there, does its job and it looks like the rider didn’t do a thing, look for someone who has had success with that style.”
“My favorite thing to say to girls when they ask who they should be riding with is, ride with people who beat you. Simple as that. If they are beating you, they are doing something different and you can learn from that, and if you start beating them, well then go ride with the next girl who’s beating you. You might not like everyone’s style but you can always take something from it and make it work for you.”
Kirsten and Jazz being badasses
“They have ridden for long periods of time on a solid program or under an already established person. If you compare mine and Jessie’s resumes they are pretty similar, but I will be the first to say that she is the one I call when I am having troubles with a horse. Riding with Dee Butterfield for 10 years and spending a winter with Sherry Cervi ain’t no minor thing. You learn shit.”
“Don’t discredit a trainer that comes from a different background or has rode in different disciplines. There is so much more to being a good barrel racer, than barrel racing. Try to spend as much time as possible learning from people who are well-rounded and who have spent time learning how to get a horse broke and supple. There are Canadian champions that have taken large parts of their barrel program from the English world and World Champions that started out with a lot of roping influence. I think that we can get experience from anywhere, and as long as it is applied correctly it will lead back to the most important thing. Good horsemanship.”
Dee Butterfield with Jessie and her great horse Mitobility winning the trailer at the Don Laing Trailer Series
“They have had multiple horses do well at multiple levels, they have a style but can get on just about anything and make it work for them. How cool is it when a young gun can post runs on dozens of different horses that she made or is running for clients and can be competitive on all of them? That’s sweet, and that’s a quality you want in a trainer. But At the same time, don’t discredit the girls who have had one hit wonders, because like I said you can literally learn something from everyone. I had a barrel racer a couple years ago say to me “You know, when Jazz started winning I thought, she just got lucky. Then Donk started winning and I thought she got lucky twice. But then you won on so-and-so’s horse and I finally had to say, no this girl can ride.” That’s a hard one to swallow because yeah, I did get my start on Jazz but even if I hadn’t had the luck of coming across more kick ass horses I still worked my hiney off to turn a dangerous, soured halter bred western pleasure horse into a rodeo star and to me that counts for something.”
“There are a lot of really talented trainers that do outstanding jobs in numerous fields, and some in more select ones. Always have an end goal in mind when picking your trainer- What would you like to accomplish when the training process is through? Someone who starts colts is vastly different from someone who is taking futurity colts. If you are sending your horse to get ready for futurities, most trainers will require 30-90 days and want the colt well before we are even getting close to futurity season. If you want to sell your barrel horse, choose someone who will jackpot, show it well and advertise it for you. If you are just getting training so that you can go and compete successfully on your own horse, then this is where you pick the trainer that you’d like to ride with.”
Jessie and Mito being badasses
They do well at whatever level of our sport they wish to compete in.
“I have a friend that has amazing pro rodeo material horses, but she chooses to hit the big jackpots because of the laid back family and friend involved atmosphere and opportunity to run all of her horses no matter their level of training. Jackpots are fantastic because they work for her lifestyle. Maybe you want to amateur rodeo because it’s more practical for your budget to pay the smaller entry fees and a more solid chance at making a cheque because you don’t have to compete against Baby Flo. And that’s ok. You might be on a CFR quality horse but if it doesn’t make sense for you to break your bank account chasing Edmonton, then it just doesn’t make sense. It absolutely does not discredit a barrel racer’s talent or ability to teach in any way because they haven’t made CFR or they don’t pro rodeo. You can learn from everyone.”
“At any level of competition it is worthwhile to keep your eyes open for trainers who have nice horses, who are happy, and want to work. Watch them, watch their jockey. If someone is consistently bringing out nice horses, and they are consistent in their field then they are probably have some basis to teach from. Being talented with horses is not enough on its own. Managing time and resources is essential to being a good trainer. A good trainer should be someone that you know will spend the committed time training your horse, keep your horse in a safe environment, stick with your nutritional program and is accessible to you for updates about your horse. You can’t expect to come see your horse every day, but coming out to the place to watch it get worked once or twice a month should never be an issue.”
Kirsten and Jazz. I love this picture
Kirsten and Jess:
“Ok, since this article is positive and uplifting I don’t think red flags need to be ventured into too much. If you love your horse and you are compassionate you do not need a blog article to tell you to avoid a trainer when your gut instinct is screaming at you to run away. However Jessie and I agree on a couple of things, first pick up the traits of a trainer by watching them. I think the most important tell about someone is how do they react when everything goes wrong? You want to surround yourself with positive training and you want your horse to be ridden by a positive, patient rider. Watch how the trainer handles the nerves that come with the high intensity training we put into these powerful animals and listen to other people’s personal experiences to get an idea about the trainer’s reputation and integrity. And remember, just because one person did not like someone’s training methods, does not mean that they would not be a perfect fit for you and your horse. Take everyone’s opinion with a grain of salt, especially if it is on Facebook, and then ride with the person anyways even if it is just a 1 hour lesson because who knows, together you could make magic happen.”
“Kirsten and I do not have degrees, we cannot show you our masters in “Know-it-all-ness”. We are two girls that have dedicated their lives to their dream. The dream of running a ridiculously expensive horse, down a ridiculously long alley, after a ridiculously shiny buckle before we make a ridiculously long drive home. We have had setbacks and heartbreak; Mito tearing his suspensory was the biggest blow to my unwavering determination thus far. I had spent 8 months of rehab to be told that it didn’t work, we need to try again. It is almost impossible to keep your spirits up every day when you are putting all your effort and dreams into such fragile and breakable creatures. Then barrel racers, our support system, turn on each other, we post “rants” to get “things off our chest”, use other people’s failures, flaws, misguided opinions, misguided thoughts, or naivety to bolster our own self-esteem and serve them up as a mockery for the whole social media world to see. Our “inside” jokes aren’t so mysterious. This is the most discouraging part of all.”
“We are our own worst critics. I hate watching myself ride in videos, it’s crazy but I do not like my own style, but at the end of the day it works, and the way I ride brings out the best in my horse. Sure I wish I looked like Sherry Cervi but that just isn’t practical. I am 5’2 and my legs would have stood a good chance for the casting of The Hobbit. Everyone has a different style, we don’t need to like it but we do need to respect it. Each barrel racer you meet is fighting a battle that you don’t know about, but we can all relate to the blood, sweat and tears it takes to win. You don’t know the sacrifices each girl had to make to get down the road, the hustle they put in all winter, the young children they are leaving at home as they chase their dream. Every successful barrel racer has worked her butt off to get where she is because you cannot put mediocre effort in and expect amazing results. You cannot buy your way into winning either; I think “Rodeo Girls” proved that with the fancy horses what’s-her-name was running during the season. This game is so mental and can change so quickly that if you’re at the top, there is a reason for it, you are meant to be there, you are a talented rider and a dedicated athlete.”
“Barrel racing is full of inspirational stories of amazing horses and wonderful, hardworking women. My first amateur rodeo check was made off of a lame, blown up barrel horse that my cousin saved from the meat truck. I bought him off her for next to nothing and with lots of love, a ton of time, and even more patience he came around to be my first really competitive amateur rodeo horse. Those are the horses that make all the hard work and sacrifice worth it.
The comradery that can happen when a group of barrel racers are happy for each other’s successes and can admire other people’s horses, talents and point of view, is an amazing thing. We are all different. There are no two paths that are the same. Every girl at the NFR got there a different way. I hope that soon we can all begin to celebrate that fact. It is liberating. I can’t be Kirsten, I can’t ride like Kirsten, but I can learn so much from Kirsten. I am going to do the best job of being Jessie that I can. I am going to fail, I am going to make mistakes, I am going to wish I could go back and do something over, and do it better. However, at the end of the day, I have to live with myself and my choices. I am accountable for the things I do and say, and I can choose to be better than I was yesterday. As they say; be the change you want to see in the world.”
Big thanks to Jessie and Kirsten for writing this! Ladies, take what you will from this article, but I hope it will be a positive! 🙂