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Making it BIG in Vegas – with NFR Barrel Racing Rookie, Cayla Melby Small

2016 NFR Barrel Racer Cayla Melby Small
Cayla and Gator pictured after their win in Innisfail, Alberta.

Cayla Melby Small may be an NFR Rookie, and the 2016 WPRA Rookie of the year, but she’s no newbie to barrel racing. As the daughter of 2-time NFR Qualifier Jane Melby, Cayla has been in the saddle competing with the goal to make the NFR at age 18 since she was just a toddler.

Rodeo is a family affair for Team Melby, and the family just got bigger when Cayla married Zac Small this October, who is also a 2016 NFR first timer on the heading side in the team roping (check out hashtag #TwoSmallsGoingBiginVegas). The insights Cayla shared below about her horses, her season, favorite products and more give us a fun sneak peek into the life and times of a “rookie” professional on rodeo road!
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Tips for Going Pro (and More) with NFR Barrel Racer, Carley Richardson

NFR Barrel Racer Carley Richardson

Even if 80’s metal isn’t your favorite genre of music, and the band name ‘Autograph’ doesn’t ring a bell, you’re still likely to be familiar with the line, “Turn up the RADIO” that also bears the song’s namesake (click here to jog your memory.)

Judging by the lyrics, the rock ‘n roll lifestyle doesn’t seem so far off that of an NFR barrel racer: Read more

Fifteen Questions with No. 15 NFR Barrel Racer – Amberleigh Moore

She may have qualified in the fifteenth spot, but even as an NFR Rookie Amber Moore has every reason to be confident. Below she’s shared insights from her amazing 2016 season and offered valuable advice for those of us who’d love to follow in her boots as an NFR barrel racing qualifier! Read more

Viva Las Vegas! Meet the 2016 Top 15 NFR Barrel Racers

2016 NFR Barrel Racers

The top 15 WPRA barrel racing qualifiers have arrived in Las Vegas, and will soon be blasting down the alley at the Thomas & Mack. In anticipation of the rodeo action, I’m excited to share their reflection on at the 2016 season, and what we can expect to see in this years race to the gold buckle.

So before the gates open, let’s dive in and get to know these these amazing women and their horses (including pedigrees) who will entertain, educate and inspire us – at the 2016 NFR and beyond! Read more

What Every Aspiring NFR Barrel Racer Should Know – with PRCA Veterinarian of the Year, Dr. Marty Tanner

What Every Aspiring NFR Barrel Racer Should Know - with 2016 PRCA Veterinarian of the Year, Dr. Marty Tanner

After making the cross country move from northern Wyoming to central Texas in 2013, I had several quality options when it came to selecting a primary veterinarian in our area that would oversee our horse’s care.

I was familiar with Dr. Marty Tanner and knew he was the vet. of choice for several NFR barrel racers. As someone with BIG barrel racing goals, it didn’t take long to decide and get established with him at Elgin Veterinary Hospital in Elgin, Texas.

Dr. Tanner was named the 2016 Zoetis PRCA Veterinarian of the Year in recognition of his extraordinary dedication, commitment and service to the well-being of professional rodeo livestock.

Dot Com, Heather and Dr. Tanner
Dot Com, Heather and Dr. Tanner

An article by Matt Naber in the ProRodeo Sports News quoted PRCA World Champion Tie Down Roper Monty Lewis as saying, “He is one of the best performance horse veterinarians in North America, and we are very blessed that he gives the rodeo community so much attention. With his renowned facility and his progressive and innovative approach, he is very deserving of the ultimate recognition. The world standings are filled with competitors who owe a large portion of their success to him.”

I couldn’t agree more, which is why I am grateful to Dr. Tanner for lending his wisdom and experience in an interview I’m excited to share below that offers valuable horse health insights (and more) for equestrians in any discipline who want to deliver the very best care possible to their equine athletes. Read more

How to TEACH and Prepare Your Horse to Handle Challenging Ground Conditions

How to TEACH and Prepare Your Horse to Handle Challenging Ground Conditions

The barrel racing world has been abuzz lately on the important topic of ground conditions and what must be done to improve them, especially at the super bowl of rodeo and most prestigious event of the year – the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo.

As individual barrel racers with gold buckle dreams and valuable equine athletes that are both part of our livelihood and families, our hope for change comes in part through believing there is power in numbers, and that our voices and concerns are more likely to be heard when we join forces and take a stand together to #raisethebarforrodeo, as is being attempted through this petition.

It’s easy to get caught up in the emotions surrounding the issue – after all, there’s not just a lot of money at stake each night, but one single slip can be career ending for a beloved barrel horse, and the safety of the world’s top jockey’s is at stake as well. It’s no doubt serious business and an issue that can’t be taken lightly at any level.

In times like this, with social media at our fingertips it’s easy to hop on the finger-pointing and complaining bandwagon. When so many others are on board, it can be tempting to follow suit.

So while I do believe there is power in numbers, and am an advocate for safe ground conditions, I’m also a BIG believer that we must each take personal responsibility for our own safety and that of our horses, and that’s what I intend to help you do today. In any circumstance when we haven’t done everything in our own power through preparation, then a one-sided blame game isn’t quite a fair one to play.

Especially when a public message from WPRA headquarters enlightened us to the legitimate limitations in the influence and control barrel racers have over the ground conditions, situations like the WNFR especially require us to take matters into our own hands in addition to joining forces, and each do our part – which may include reaching out to local rodeo committees, but especially TEACHING and preparing ourselves and our horses, starting with the steps we take in our own home arenas – to increase the odds for safe and successful runs no matter what kind of challenging circumstances come our way.

In the pro members post below, I’ve shared TEN ways to do just that! Read more

Road Warriors – Life as a Professional Barrel Racer with the Top 15 NFR Qualifiers

Road Warriors – Life as a Professional Barrel Racer with the Top 15 NFR Qualifiers

Life on rodeo road isn’t for the faint of heart. The 15 ladies below toughed it out in 2015 and earned their spot under the bright lights of Las Vegas.

Read on as they reflect on the highs and lows (AND how they got through them), plus share insights on the transition from amateur to professional, entry strategies, and more!
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Callie duPerier
Callie duPerier

#1 CALLIE DUPERIER
Did you have strategy for entering rodeos this season? I looked to the rodeos that added the most money and those that I thought would best fit my horses. Luckily, over the 4th of July I got to travel with Sherry Cervi. I just told her you enter and “I’ll go where you go.” She is experienced at knowing the best ones to get to.

Which rodeo resulted in your biggest accomplishment? Biggest accomplishment was Calgary. It was my first time there and I ended up second behind Lisa Lockhart and Louie. Lisa and Louie are so awesome so I felt happy doing so well there.

Which proved to be your biggest disappointment? Why? My biggest disappointment was at one of the Champions Challenges I hit the third barrel on Arson to win it.

Who did you travel with majority of the season? My dad and Whiplash, our driver who used to drive for Cody Ohl, so everyone knows him. And then Sherry during the 4th of July.

What do you think is the key to transitioning from amateur barrel racer to professional? Being able to stay on the road is a big transition. I am a homebody so being on the road was a big change for me. Also the rodeos are different when you get on the road competing with such tough competition at them all. Read more

Viva Las Vegas! Warm Up with the 2015 NFR Barrel Racing Qualifiers

Viva Las Vegas!  Warm Up with the 2015 NFR Barrel Racing Qualifiers

Have you ever wondered “How do they DO it!?”

If the tasks involved in preparing to compete for record amounts of prize money (1.1 MILLION) in front of thousands of fans for TEN days straight seems overwhelming – it should!

In part II of this year’s NFR interview series, the top 15 have revealed not only how they feel about the exciting experience, but the steps they have taken to get ready and will take (for themselves and their horses) to stay ready and be at their best each and every night. Read more