When the dust settled on the pole bending competition at the National High School Finals Rodeo held in Rock Springs, Wyo., July 14-23, it was New Mexico’s Leia Pluemer who rode her self-trained AQHA Horse of the Year VF Red An Gold (“Rodeo”) to the championship. With times of 20.198 for second place in round one, 19.923 for fourth in round two, and 19.809 to split fourth in the short go, the team secured the average victory.
Barrel Horse News caught up with Leia to get her take on the high school finals experience. Be sure and check out feature length coverage from the NHSFR, Junior High School Rodeo Finals, International Finals Youth Finals Rodeo and Little Britches Finals Rodeo in the September issue.
Photo Courtesy Leia Pluemer
In Her Words
When I loaded Rodeo and the other horses into the trailer to head to Rock Springs, I had a feeling it was going to be an amazing week. I knew Rodeo was feeling his best and had been running good all year. He had a slight set back just before our state finals when he started bleeding from the nose after his runs. We felt it was because of the heat he had to endure sitting in the trailer when we went to the NBHA Super Show in Las Vegas, Nev. in June. But that issue was quickly resolved and he went back to running as his same old consistent self. Rodeo might not be the absolute fastest horse out there, but I know exactly what he is going to do, and he is so consistent in every run he makes, whether it’s barrels or poles.
When we got to Rock Springs, Rodeo was so full of himself that he tried to take the barn down to get to a mare he was in love with. In tearing up his stall, Rodeo managed to loosen a shoe and tear up a front foot. When we tried to have a shoe put back on him, he was so foot sore, and not wanting anyone to tack the shoe back on. Plus, he really didn’t have enough hoof-wall to nail a shoe to. So, we packed his foot with some sole cushion, and then taped the packing on. Just before poles, after I had warmed him up, I would peel the homemade shoe off and let him run barefoot on that one front foot. It obviously did not slow him down.
The short go was so intense and tough. I knew we were going to have to make the run of our lives when the first girl out in poles ran a 19.7. However, I knew I needed to have a clean run with no poles down. When the girl who was leading the average hit a pole, my friend Jordan Noe, who was standing there with me said to me, “God just blessed you! Go make it happen! Go win it!” So I got Rodeo all fired up and sent him through the alley full speed ahead. When he came back across the timer and they announced a 19.809, I knew Rodeo was a National Champion! I was so thrilled I started crying. It took me a little while to re-gain my composure before I could go be interviewed by the RFD-TV crew.
I am a huge believer in motivational sayings, and believe also that things happen for a reason. For some reason, it was our turn to win. All the hard work and practice and focus finally paid off.