October 25-27th was the conclusion of the 2012 PRCA/WPRA Mountain States Circuit Rodeo Season rodeo season which wrapped up in Rock Springs, Wyo., at the Sweetwater Events Complex.
Snow, bad roads and horses that were ready to run combined to make the Rock Springs event a memorable one. Going into the MSCFR, Franktown, Colo., cowgirl and 2012 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo qualifier, Christy Loflin, was running away with the year-end barrel racing championship.
Christy Loflin competing at the Cheyenne Frontier Days CREDIT TYLER STOCKTON
Loflin and the fiery 7-year-old mare, Sheza Blazin Move, affectionately known as Movin, had a very successful rodeo season. Pivotal upswings in her year occurred when she won the prestigious Greeley Independence Day Stampede (Greeley, Colo.) and finished second behind fellow 2012 Wrangler NFR Qualifier, Mary Walker, at the Daddy of ‘em All, Cheyenne Frontier Days.
“I started out the season at Denver and had a rough winter season,” explained Loflin. “I placed at a few rodeos but it wasn’t until I won Greeley that it gave me a glimmer of hope. I only had $9,000 won before Greeley, so the win in Greeley was very much needed.”
Beyond gathering the necessary earnings to pad her rodeo bank account at two of the largest regular season rodeos of the summer, Loflin experienced a fateful meeting that impacted the course of her season for the better.
“While I was in Cheyenne, my friend Kelly Yates, introduced me to the Walkers (Mary and Byron) and that was the turning point of my season. Byron and Mary were so gracious and took me under their wing. Byron told me that if I listened to them that could make the NFR. He told me to meet him and Mary up in the Northwest for the last month of the season, so I did. And I am very grateful that I did,” she explained.
Loflin then added another giant win to her long resume at the famed Pendleton Roundup.
“After I won Pendleton, I jumped to 15th in the World Standings,” she explained. “The last two weeks after Pendleton was a roller coaster! I hit costly barrels, then my mare, Movin, got an abscess so I wasn’t even sure I was going to be able to finish out the last week. It literally came down to counting every last penny to find out who got the 15th spot.”
Being 15th in the WPRA World standings represented not only the long-awaited fulfillment of her dreams, but Loflin explained that the experience helped her form bonds to last a lifetime with her fellow competitors.
“The neat part about being in the position that I was in towards the end of the season was getting to know the girls I was going neck and neck with. Fallon Taylor and Robyn Herring were battling it out with me and since then, they’ve both become good friends of mine. They are very classy and successful ladies and it was an honor to compete against them, along with all the other girls on the road out there.”
After wrapping up the 2012 season, Loflin was able to come home, relax and spend some much needed quality time with her family before the MSCFR. Loflin has an 18-year-old daughter, Randi, who is following in her mother’s footprints and turning into a very successful young barrel racer. Her 10-year-old son, Cole, is an accomplished youth hockey player and athlete. Both kids often argue over which one of them is their mother’s biggest fan, but to Loflin all that matters is that they know they are still number one to her.
“I miss my kids more than anything while I am out on the road. Now that daughter is 18, she plans on buying her WPRA Permit and I hope she can go with me to some rodeos,” explained Loflin.
Although circuit finals didn’t go as Loflin would have liked, she still had a great time with fellow barrel racers and got to make a run on a very special horse.
“Movin’ had a month off before circuit finals while she was down at a cold water spa in Texas, so we didn’t come into circuit finals very sharp. We had to get our groove back the first two runs, and the last run, I was able to ride my daughter Randi Timmons’ mare, Miss Judge N’ Me (“Trudee”),” said Loflin. “I had only run the mare once before I took her to Rock Springs with me and I ended up tipping a barrel on her. She is great horse and my daughter has done a wonderful job on her and to allow me, her mom, to run her was an honor. I still had a great time and I met a lot of wonderful people, and the awards were amazing.”
Loflin is spending some quality time at home before she heads to Las Vegas for her first Wrangler NFR.
A rookie this year, Ilene Choal, did not expect to go into the MSCFR a rookie and emerge as the rodeo’s barrel racing champion.
Choal, a dental school student in Lincoln, Neb., and her 12-year-old gelding, Roany Red Shadow, also known as Zippy, made three consistent blistering runs at the 2012 Mountain States Circuit Finals to seal a trip to the Ram National Circuit Finals Rodeo in Oklahoma City in April 2013.
“My goal this summer was to fill my permit. Nikki Steffes, who is a good friend of mine, told me to rodeo a little more over the summer and see what I could get done,” explained Choal. “After filling my permit, my next goal was to make circuit finals. The summer went well for me and Zip and I was extremely happy when I qualified for the circuit finals.”
The experience more than lived up to her rookie expectations.
“Being at circuit finals was amazing. The whole experience was neat and so much fun. I never really thought I would win the average. I didn’t focus on that,” explained Choal. “I just wanted to make good, solid runs and we did. Each night we kept getting better and better.”
Choal won fourth in the first round then came back in the second round to win third behind veteran Toni Hardin and fellow rookie barrel racer C.J. Vondette. Choal came back strong in the third round to win it, which gave her a total time of 49.04 on three runs to edge Vondette, who came in second in the aggregate.
Choal explained that each time she and her main mount, Zip, went blazing through the alley she knew they were going to make a great run.
“It’s like he knew what he needed to do and wanted to go and win it for me. I just wanted to take the experience one run at time and just remember that being there was a blessing.”
Choal wants to credit her family and friends for their ongoing support, especially her husband, Tyler.
Rookie Champion Vondette
The 2012 Mountain States Rookie of the Year award went to CJ Vondette from Rifle, Colo. Vondette and her main mount, Cache A Mount, affectionately known as Grizz, had a very successful 2012 rodeo season.
“Grizz has a huge heart. He loves to run barrels and I am so proud of him this year. He really worked well and I couldn’t be happier with how our year ended,” explained Vondette.
Not only did Vondette and Grizz have a hot rodeo season, but the pair ended up second in the average at the Mountain States Circuit Finals.
“Since Grizz is 16, I will pick and choose where I want to run him next year, but I would like to go a little harder outside our circuit. I have a younger horse that I use as my back-up that has been working really well, so I am ready for next year,” said Vondette.
2012 MSCFR Results:
Barrel racing: First round: 1. Kim Schulze, 16.38 seconds, $1,221; 2. C.J. Vondette, 16.45, $916; 3. Wendy McKee, 16.47, $611; 4. Ilene Choal, 16.50, $305. Second round: 1. Toni Hardin, 16.19 seconds, $1,221; 2. C.J. Vondette, 16.31, $916; 3. Ilene Choal, 16.34, $611; 4. Paige Conrado, 16.39, $305. Third round: 1. Ilene Choal, 16.20 seconds, $1,221; 2. Paige Conrado, 16.21, $916; 3. Wendy McKee, 16.41, $611; 4. Christine Laughlin, 16.45, $305. Average: 1. Ilene Choal, 49.04 seconds on three runs, $1,831; 2. C.J. Vondette, 49.25, $1,374; 3. Toni Hardin, 49.38, $916; 4. Christine Laughlin, 49.53, $458.