All The Right Moves
Sarah Plaisance and Just Let Her Dance win the inaugural running of the Elite Youth Extravaganza.
By Tanya Randall – Photos by Pixel Works
Summer family fun found a new home at the Extraco Events Center in Waco, Texas, with the inaugural running of the Elite Youth Extravaganza and Red HOT Summer Run Open, held July 17-21 in Waco, Texas.
The event was the first for Elite Barrel Racing’s new ownership. The production company was purchased by the McClellan County Fair Association (Heart of Texas Fair) this winter.
“Elite is all about having a great production,” said production manager T.C. Long. “We want it to feel like the NFR. We wanted to a have big barrel race with that type of atmosphere just for the kids. We also wanted it to be a family event by including the Guaranteed Open 5Ds.”
The $5,000-added Elite Youth Extravaganza utilized a two-run qualifying format with a clean-slate Finals. In addition to a slew of prizes, a year’s use of a Sooner three-horse gooseneck trailer, sponsored by The Trailer Store of Huntsville, Texas, was awarded to MacKenzie Powell of Troy, Texas, from a drawing from all the qualifiers to the Youth Championship Finals.
Using a strategy well beyond her years and experience, Sarah Plaisance and her young mare Just Let Her Dance (“Dancey”) left the Inaugural Elite Youth Extravaganza with the 1D Championship.
She and her mother Shelia left their Keatchie, La., home at 3:30 a.m., hoping to get an exhibition in the Extraco Show Arena before her first run, but unfortunately they didn’t make it in time. Unsure how Dancey would handle the setup, she made a cautious first run.
“I didn’t really send her hard Thursday (for the first go),” explained the 13-year-old eighth grader. “I just kind of cruised her in there and it was really smooth.”
Their 15.618 was good enough for eighth in the first go. Having already made the Finals, Plaisance chose to use her second run to make improvements.
“I decided not to run hard on Friday,” she said. “I decided to work on our turns instead of really sending her. I decided on Saturday, it was either go big or go home, so I sent her in there.”
She and Dancey’s winning time was a 15.316, which held for most of the Finals.
“I always knew she had potential, but not that kind of potential,” she laughed. “I really just took a shot in the dark because I hadn’t been sending her. I’d been holding her back a little bit because she’s so young. I took a chance and she proved me wrong, thinking that she couldn’t do it.”
Dancey, a 6-year-old daughter of Bouncy Brown Cadilac out of Dancing Rio Style, by Rios First Flit Bar, a big time youth money earner himself, was bred by Rick Hamm of Figure 9 Quarter Horses in Ada, Okla. Plaisance purchased her as a 3-year-old and the mare was sent to Leslie Holder for training.
“We’re just now starting to get together as she gets older,” said Plaisance, who has ridden Dancey since the mare was 4. “She’s really automatic. She’s not hard to get along with and is really easy going.”
Although she’s a natural hand with horse, Plaisance didn’t grow up in a horse family. She credits her friends Baleigh Campbell and Jessie Williamson with getting her started when she was 9.
“I’ve just picked up bits and pieces from different people,” said Plaisance, who wants to be a veterinarian and train barrel horses in her spare time. “I have to thank everyone for their help along the way.”
Having found success at the larger jackpots, Plaisance and Dancey will try their luck at the Wrangler Junior High Rodeos this year.
After placing and qualifying with a 1D run in the first round, Kristen McQuade made a fortunate mistake in Finals that resulted in the 2D Championship.
“Going into the first barrel I went to fix my hat—which I’m told all the time to never do, just let it fly off—and it cost us some time and I was really upset about it,” said McQuade, who hails from Riesel, Texas, just south of Waco. “When I got back to the warm up pen I was telling my mom how I was really mad at myself for fixing my hat because my run could have been so much faster. Right about that time, they called the new fast time, which put me at the top of the 2D and it ended up holding for the rest of the night. I wasn’t happy with myself after the run but I guess it worked out to my benefit to reach up and fix my hat and cost us time. I got a new saddle and some money out of the deal, so I can’t complain about that!”
McQuade has owned her equine partner Hot Gritz N Gravy (“Gritz”) for almost two years. She bought the 8-year-old daughter of Hot Colours from Taryn Sheldon.
“She’s like my best friend,” she said. “I don’t know what I would do without her. She can be pain sometimes, but it doesn’t matter. She’ll give you everything she’s got every time you go in the pen. I’m beyond blessed to have her.”
Although just 18, McQuade is already a sophomore in college, having gradated high school a year early. She’s currently attending McClellan County Community College, but will be transferring to Baylor University as a pre-pharmacy major.
“It’s going to be crazy with school, horses and everything,” said McQuade, who wanted to thank her parents, Kieran and Shawnda, and God, “for blessing me with this amazing opportunity to run barrels and have the horses, and the support from my family for everything. It’s such a blessing doing what you love all the time.”
Eighth-grader Tara Kinslow of Clyde, Texas, is working her way into competitive form for junior high and high school rodeo, by focusing on jackpots with her new horse Honorabully (“Able”), a 7-year-old Bully Bullion gelding out of a Jet Of Honor-bred mare that she’s had just five months.
After knocking over a barrel in the first go, Kinslow made a slight equipment adjustment by adding spurs. Her second run placed second in the 3D. With her championship time in the Finals, she won her second saddle of the summer, having won her first at the D&G in Hamilton, Texas, over Memorial Weekend.
“I’ve just really started in this, so I’ve just been doing jackpots,” said the 14-year-old, who started riding with at the Callahan County Riding Club. “I hope to work my way into high school and junior rodeo. I just haven’t gotten there yet.”
Kinslow progressed from the riding club to 4H and then made the decision that she wanted to be more competitive.
“Amanda Earles has really taught me everything I know about barrel racing,” she said. “Terry Hollis, the 4H leader, helped me a lot with how to ride and keep my balance in the turns. They’ve been my main teachers.”
Kinslow stays very busy with school, taking advance placement classes, and sports—she plays volleyball, basketball and runs track. “Basically, I get up early and go to bet late,” she said.
She wanted to thank her parents, Mike and Paula, and her grandparents, Leon and Francis Rose, for all their support. She also wanted to all of her coaches and “God and Jesus for helping me through everything that I do.”
Kala Lindsey from Troup, Texas, won her first saddle with a Youth 4D victory aboard Smokin S Oswald (“Buddy”), an 8-year-old gelding by PC Frenchmans Mark. The duo hit a barrel on their first run and were out of the money with their qualifying run in the second go, but hit pay dirt in the Finals.
“I’ve had him two years now,” said Lindsey of her equine partner. “He was started when I got him, but I’m finishing him up.”
Lindsey, an 18-year-old freshman kinesiology major at Tarleton State University in Stephenville, Texas, grew up in a non-horse family. When she was a freshman in high school she convinced her dad to let her barrel race.
“Ever since then I’ve been hooked,” said Lindsey, who wanted to thank her parents Keith and Barbara, “for always being there for me and helping me out and never giving up on me.”
Young Dally Parker, 9, also won her first saddle, for winning the Youth 5D with Cashin Bud (“Snap”), an 11-year-old race-bred gelding.
The fourth grader from Byers, Texas, is very involved with barrel racing and junior rodeos. She also competes in pole bending, goat tying and breakaway roping.
“It’s just really fun,” she said. “If you win, you get really cool prizes. I just love being around the horses and stuff.”
Although her parents Zach and Misty didn’t compete themselves, several relatives are very involved with rodeo.
“She came by it honestly,” said her mother. “She’s got a lot of determination, dedication and talent. She’s been on the back of the horse since she was 9 months old. She goes to school three days a week and then she’s off on Friday’s and Monday. She does part public school and part homeschool. We do Region 3 rodeo and MRCA rodeo, NBHA, D&Gs, just everything.”
Parker County Posse
The past two Better Barrel Races Finals 1D Champions from Parker County Texas dominated the Red HOT Summer Run Open 5D races.
Current BBR Champion Andrea Cline of Springtown, Texas, topped Open Race 1 with a 15.178 aboard her 5-year futurity colt, Stiches Streaknfame (“Moses”) for $1,518 of the $20,000 Guaranteed purse. (Due to the great turnout, an additional $2,500 was added to each Open.)
“I think he’s going to be my one-in-a-million,” said Cline, who has already won pro rodeo checks on the gelding. “Every time I go down the alley, I’m so positive on him. He doesn’t feel like a colt. He feels like a horse that’s been doing this a long time.”
Moses was given to Andrea Cline, a professional barrel racer and trainer, as yearling by his breeders Joey and Shelly Martin of Sealy, Texas. The Martin’s own Firewater Ta Fame, an up-and-coming barrel horse sire that Cline had successfully rode for the couple. Knowing that Cline loves the Streakin Six bloodlines of Moses’ dam, Streakin Sider, it made good sense for the Martin’s to send the colt Cline’s direction.
After spending time with Cline’s friend Janet Thome, learning basic ground manners—hauling, clipping, standing tied, etc.—Moses was sent off to be broke. The experience was less than desired.
“I was basically trying somebody,” said Cline. “When he got back, he had no mouth and I was absolutely horrified. I thought I was going to have to sell him as a riding horse. This was not good at all.”
Cline was buried with outside horses so Moses got put on the backburner. Then by chance, Cline sent Moses home with her friend Miranda Leija when he was 3.
“She kept him for probably six months,” said Cline. “She completely turned him around. I have to give her a lot of credit because I don’t think he’d be the horse he is today without her. She saved him. She made my job a lot easier. I was able to put him on barrels right away and he trained up really fast.”
For Race 2 winner Debra Cooper it wasn’t her winning run that caused as much of a stir as it is what happened to her the following week.
Cooper, Poolville, Texas, and her great horse Rapid Firing Pass (“Jeffrey”) posted the fastest time of the event, a 15.130, and made it look easy.
“He just worked really well,” said of the 12-year-old gelding by Rapid Firing Sixes out of Petticoat Pass, by Floyd De Great. “The first day he went in there and worked really good. He just shut down a little bit before he got across the eye. He’s used to running at those things with a closed gate. The second run, he knew he wasn’t running to a closed gate so he ran all the way through. He just made a good clean run. I just sat up there. He felt good. I was really happy with him.”
Cooper and Jeffrey had just been back in action five weeks after Jeffrey injured a tendon last fall. Unfortunately, it’s Cooper, who is now injured. The Wednesday after her victory she got her foot crushed in a Sam’s Club parking lot.
“All of a sudden I felt a bumper across my butt and I thought ‘what the heck’ and I stepped over to the left and he was already turning and ran right over my foot,” said Cooper, who is a hospice nurse. “It was the most painful thing I’ve ever had happen. It totally crushed my foot. They had to rebuild the arteries, the tendons, the bones, everything. I’m really lucky that I didn’t lose my foot.”
Meanwhile, Jeffrey’s just hanging out in the pasture until Cooper gets well.
“I get to ride my wheelchair and that’s it,” she laughed. “It’s pretty boring. It could have been worse. He could have run over my entire body. I’m still here to talk about it, so I guess we’re doing good. You just have to deal with it and hope for the best.”