The first of 29 regular rodeo performances, which run from Jan. 24 to Feb. 8 with a top 12 Finals taking place on Feb. 9, has been crossed off the board by Fort Worth Stock Show rodeo secretary Mildred Farris. For decades Farris, a former GRA/WPRA President and 12 time Wrangler NFR qualifier, has presided over the clerical duties for the historic Southwestern Exposition and Livestock Show held at the Will Rogers Coliseum in Fort Worth, Texas. After being inducted last October into the Cowgirl Hall of Fame, located within walking distance of her rodeo office, she’s back in Cowtown for another two weeks of hard labor.
With $30,000 added money to the Women’s Professional Rodeo Association sanctioned barrel race, it wasn’t hard to fill the 200 positions allocated for one of the longest running stock shows on the winter circuit. Thursday night, Jan. 24, Molly Childers, Durant, Okla., became the first WPRA contestant to leave the famed Will Rogers Coliseum with her name on the leader board. Running next to last of the 10 WPRA members on the program, Childers clocked a 16.88 for the fastest time of the night.
Taking her to the number one spot for the evening was her 5-year-old bay gelding Just My Choice. “This time last year I was just beginning to show him the barrel pattern,” said a proud Childers who filled her WPRA permit in 2008. “He started out to be a calf horse for my husband, Jason, but he pulled a muscle when he was 3. Fortunately, when he got well I got the job of rehabilitating him and I started showing him the barrels.”
Childers’ proudest runs to date on her bay sidekick have been at the BFA World Championships last December where she placed fourth in the second go round of the futurity against the best 4-year-olds in the business. “We hit a barrel in the Finals, which cost us a lot of money,” said Childers. “My goal is to continue seasoning him and make a rodeo horse out of him. Considering that he’s been on the barrels less than a year, I'm really proud of him.”
Other times clocked during the first performance, in addition to Childers’ 16.88 were: Jessica Frost 16.95; Lynn K. Brown 16.97; Teresa Turbeville 17.17; Lindsey Ewing 17.22; Shelly Weaver 17.26; Mandi Jo Fox 17.27; CJ Vondette 18.21; Hayden Segelke 21.58; and Latisha Schueneman 27.44.
The Long Go at Fort Worth continues thru the 20th performance on Monday night, Feb. 4. The Progressive Semi Finals begins on Tuesday afternoon, Feb. 5 where the top 90 will compete for a spot among the top 12 Finals on Saturday night, Feb. 9. This year’s Fort Worth Finals will sport a $5,000 bonus to the Best Dressed WPRA barrel racer thanks to the Jerry Ann Taylor Best Dressed Award given in memory of trick rider Jerry Ann Taylor, a 1986 National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame honoree.