I’m so very proud of the young members of our Team Woof Pack. When you have children like 8-year-old Hailey Haas that saves up her winnings to donate $2,000 to K9s4COPs and K9s4Kids it restores your faith in humankind. These kids are learning early on the joys of giving and benefiting the greater good.
It seemed only fitting to reward their hard work by offering them a premier event of their own. This November 21-23 in Bryan, Texas, Schiller Ranch will host the inaugural running of the Diamonds & Dirt Youth Barrel Horse Classic, benefiting K9s4KIDs. The event, which includes both barrel racing and pole bending, is open to contestants ages 19 and under.
I can guarantee you that this will be the finest assortment of dedicated and talented young riders from across the country as well as the greatest collection of finely-tuned, bomb-proof equine babysitters on the planet!
Children growing up with horses is something near and dear to my heart. I grew up with horses and competed in youth rodeos. I treasured my first real barrel horse Adios King. He taught me how to win and lose, and that beauty truly is more than skin deep, because the only thing beautiful about King was how he me feel. He was my King and when I lost him, I attempted to hold on to him forever. I called up the taxidermist to have my fine equine specimen stuffed only to be foiled by the words, “Does your Daddy know about this?”
Horses can teach our children so much more than tradition sports. Your teammate has no voice so you learn the value of no-verbal communication. You learn trust—you trust a 1,000 pound animal with a mind of its own to do what it’s trained to do. That in turn breeds empowerment, especially to our young women. It’s difficult for anyone that has straddled a horse and charged into competition not to feel some since of empowerment.
I truly enjoy seeing children gain confidence through horses. I’m continually amazed at my daughter Sinclair, who has become braver, bolder, faster with each race. The wins are great but it’s the sense of accomplishment—conquering a fear, doing what you’ve never done before that carries over to outside the arena.
I watched this not only with Sinclair, but with other children in our circle. I have a special place in my heart for the “Kings” I’ve been able to purchase Sinclair. These masterful ponies and horses are beyond priceless and their patience is simply immeasurable.
Many of these equine veterans are long in the tooth—if they have any left at all—and are long beyond their glory days but they still enjoy their jobs and have so much more to give. They’ve taken care of my daughter and I’ve promised them a lush life for the rest of their days.
But not all of them are content in the pasture. It’s hard to believe they wouldn’t enjoy the rest and relaxation of their twilight years, but they crave the chaos and their doting young riders.
I have several horse and ponies that have raised many of my friend’s children, serving as equine steps on the ladder to horsemanship success. I refer to my stable of babysitters and set-up horses as the lending library. Take it, learn from it, bring back in the condition you borrowed it and check out another when you’re ready.
Even the best movies get old when you watch them over and over, but watching these horses raising riders never gets old–from that trepidatious first lope to the giggles on their first “real run home.” They take bobble headed riders and turn them in to confident, focused individuals all the while giving them the rides of their young lives. They know when to walk, when to run—when to push, when to wait. Funny how the kid’s on their backs figure that out too…
I’m simply stunned at the blinding success of the 3rd Annual Diamonds & Dirt Barrel Horse Classic.
To think it all started a little over three years ago because I – the proclaimed Queen of the Internet (and Facebook Fasting Failure)—didn’t want to travel out of state to watch my horses run.
With a payout and prize package worth $820,000, we’ve definitely brought “The Bling Back To Texas!”
Not only did we have a blast with our barrel racing friends from across the country, but we raised money and awareness for K9s4COPs.
Our 3rd Annual Dog & Pony Show alone raised enough to purchase at least three K9s for budget-challenged law enforcement agencies and schools. Sponsored by our good friends Jeff and Andrea of Busby Quarter Horses, the Dog & Pony Show was that talk of the event.
We put together teams of top barrel futurity riders and match them against each other in a charity race. The one kicker—they have to be riding ponies. Think Indianapolis 500 Champions Dario Franchitti and Helio Castroneves dueling it out in GoKarts!
The trash talk was deep—really, really deep. And after the dust settled? Talk about a bunch of squabbling children! I guess next year we’re going to have to officially measure all the “ponies.”
Our congratulations to K9s4COPs sponsored Brittany Pozzi for winning our inaugural Diamond Jubilee Slot Race. The two-time World Champion Barrel Racer and her horse Kisskiss Bangbang pocketed $100,000 for less than 16-seconds worth of work. We heard she tried to cash her big $100,000 check at the local gas station that night. Unlike her smoking tour of the cloverleaf pattern that venture was unsuccessful.
The Diamonds & Dirt Futurity also looks to be a part of the resume of the barrel racing industry’s newest all-time leading futurity horses. Kenna Squires and The Red Dasher won the Futurity and finished second in the Diamond Jubilee Slot Race, leaving town with more than $75,000 in cash. Their earnings are now nearly $200,000 just five months into the futurity season. They also won the Fast Time Rolex, donated by my beautiful friends David and Julia Gardner.
2006 WPRA World Champion Mary Burger and Sadiefamouslastwords won the Derby and Jaime Stiener of iconic rodeo family from Austin, Texas, won our Sweepstakes with an orphaned foal out of her great National Finals Rodeo horse Tiny Artillery. Steiner’s tears of joy and bittersweet story melted our hearts.
Our dear young friend Max Chouest, who will turn 12 this May, broke a lot of hearts on Sunday when he won the Open 5D aboard VF A Sporty Design. Let me tell you. This kid can flat out ride–PEROID!
Unfortunately, his run meant no money for me. I was just thankful to crawl out of my sick bed to ride my horse and enjoy the event too.
Our event is truly second to none in presentation. Our contestants tell us that no other event in the country treats its champions with such pomp and circumstance.
None of this would have been possible without the help of our generous sponsors—Busby Quarter Horses, Gold Rush Syndicate, Double J Saddlery, P+R Productions, David Gardner’s Jewelers, RES Equine Products, Buc-ee’s, South Texas Tack, Capital Farm Credit, Dean & Draper, Granada Farms, Messina Hof Winery, Baker Hay & Feed, Cavender’s Boot City, DePaolo’s Equine Concepts, Lone Star Truck & Equipment, Matt Litz Silversmiths, Prosperity Bank, Troy Flaharty Bits & Spurs, Equine Sports Medicine & Surgery, P&P Trailers and The Wood Group.
It’s more than just a barrel race. It’s more than a charity benefit. It’s a good time for family and friends.
We can’t wait for 2015. I hope to see you there!
It’s always fun to try to explain to people what it is that my horses do and what Diamonds & Dirt is.
First I have to explain to them that I have barrel horses for barrel racing. You can image the vision that pops in their heads, right? I explain that it’s a largely women-dominated sport where riders guide their horses in a cloverleaf pattern around 55-gallon oil drums and the fastest time wins.
At least most of my husband’s Wall Street cohorts know what the oil drums are, and no they’re not filled with sweet crude. If you hit one of those going 30 miles per hour with your bare leg—Well, that would make my sciatica look tolerable!
As an aside, my sciatica is no longer an issue thanks to my wonderful doctors; however, as soon as I’m able my shins will be fair game as I make my return to the arena. Yes, I can ride. Yes, I do go fast. And, no I don’t fall off–intentionally.
I digress. Back to what my horses do…
As with all sports there are many levels of competition. At Schiller Ranch, we raise horses for futurity competition, which pits young barrel horses in their first year of competition against each other. They can be 4- or 5-years-old, but they have to be in their rookie season of barrel racing. It keeps the playing field level, but raises the gamble.
Outside of rodeos, futurities are the richest events for barrel horses. Our own Diamonds & Dirt Barrel Horse Classic, which raises money for K9s4COPs, is one of the richest in the industry. In fact, it ranked as one of the Top 10 events in the country in its debut.
I employ Latricia Duke to train my horses, and as she so eloquently told me when we first met, her job was to “take young stupid horses and make them look not so stupid.”
That philosophy works for her pretty well, she’s won more than $1 million running barrels and has trained several horses that have competed at the World’s Richest Rodeo—the National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas. In fact, one of those—Yeah Hes Firen—won the World Championship with Brittany Pozzi, who just happens to be the inaugural champion of the Diamonds & Dirt Barrel Horse Classic Futurity riding a horse a horse she raised and trained herself, Ima Super Fly Guy.
Now if that venture wasn’t risky enough, we have slot futurities, or slot races, as they’re often called. These lucrative races offer 50 “slots” for $5,000 apiece. Typically $220- to $225,000 is offered as the purse with the winning horse taking home $100,000.
The challenge is to pick your best futurity horse for the slot, and you have to do that well ahead of time. So you’re basically guessing, based on their performance in practice situations, which will be able to handle the pressure of actual competition the best.
So very risky, but so very rewarding.
My first futurity horse, Insane For Fame, won the Lance Graves Pro Classic Slot race in 2012. Stay tuned. You’ll be hearing A LOT about her.
Did you know that the Diamonds & Dirt Barrel Horse Classic™ pays out more money than the women’s barrel race at RODEO HOUSTON!!!
Yep, it sure does. Last year, we awarded $369,427 in cold, hard cash, while the function in Reliant Stadium awarded $200,000.
Joking aside, RODEO HOUSTON is the richest professional rodeo outside of the Wrangler National Finals in Las Vegas, and we love having the rodeo gals stop by and play in our sand box (arena) too!
With the addition of a $225,000 slot race, the 2014 event should blow 2013 out of the water!
When we announced this past May that we’d pay $100,000 to the winner of a slot race open to 4- and 5-year-olds, it filled in a matter of HOURS! Poor LaTricia Duke—if she wanted something to keep her occupied on the drive to the Old Fort Days Futurity in Fort Smith, Ark., she got it!
Never in our wildest dreams did we believe this event would grow so fast in such a short time span. We have something for everyone—open races for competitors of all ages and abilities, aged events to test the mettle of our youngest horses, and a sweepstakes, which is a good old, fashioned bring-your-big-gun shootout between the best horses and riders at the peak of the careers.
Plus it’s an event to see and be seen. Shop, party and play—AND benefit a worthy cause while doing it.
All proceeds from the Diamonds & Dirt Barrel Horse Classic benefit K9s4COPs. Where else can you have a good time, win big checks and possibly save a life?