Barrel Racers, Team Ropers, and Vets, Oh My!
My boyfriend learned an extremely valuable (i.e., expensive) lesson the other day. Never let a barrel racer take your rope horse to the vet.
By Savannah Magoteaux
I made an appointment for Cinco for a pre-Barrel Futurities of America World Championships checkup, and my boyfriend asked if I’d take his heel horse, Mouse, to get his Coggins and health papers. They’re going to rope at the World Series of Team Roping Finale in Las Vegas, and it’s my job to make sure all the paperwork is in order before we leave.
Mouse, like many rope horses, typically goes to the vet once a year for his annual Coggins. He has, on a couple occasions in the four years we’ve been dating, gotten a chiropractic adjustment as well.
I had my orders...I was to get health papers, Coggins, and a simple adjustment. Of course, that turned into acupuncture, supplements, and lots of other things to make Mouse feel his best. My boyfriend wasn’t impressed with my take-charge attitude, to say the least. “Why did he need all of that?” was asked multiple times over the weekend, and of course my answer of “To make him feel great!” was not satisfactory.
Truth be told, I think Paul and I are two extremes of the spectrum. He’s the stereotypical team roper whom you might hear say, “It’s a long way from his heart,” while I’m the quintessential barrel racer who might excuse every mistake my horse makes with “I bet he’s sore...”
Over the last several months, I’ve had instances where I was sure Cinco was hurting. Why else would he not turn? Or drop his shoulder? Humble me in front of the masses?
We’ve had a few vet trips that ended in a laugh from our vet and a $0 bill because there wasn’t anything wrong.
So all those times, was Cinco actually hurt? Or was he just emulating his distant cousin the jack ass? If you’re like me, it’s hard to fathom that the creature you love and have poured your heart, soul and pocketbook into would ever behave in a way less than perfect. Surely they must have a reason for acting the way they do.
I hate to admit it, but sometimes there are reasons other than soundness. He might simply be acting out like a defiant child. In the past, Cinco and I had a problem with going by the first barrel, and I was sure it had to do with him being sore. When I finally started insisting that he slow down and turn, he did. There was no soreness—we were likely going at a speed where things were happening faster than he could think. It might even have been that one day my horse simply didn't want to work and listen as much as I needed him to. Of course, now we’re getting a little too close to that barrel on occasion, but that’s for another blog.
My point is, sometimes we should probably channel our inner ropers and take a hard look at our horse’s issue before hauling them off to the vet. Maybe we excuse too much. Maybe all they need is a little tough love. On the other side of the spectrum, maybe Mouse could use a little more TLC.
Until next time...
I wanted to clarify a couple things. I am still a big advocate for having your horses checked regularly by a vet, especially if you’re not an experienced horseman. You absolutely do not want to intensify a problem that could have been fixed with a trip to the vet.
Although I joke about the differences between team ropers and barrel racers, some of the best horsemen I have been around are ropers. I credit Paul with helping me get several of my horses running better—and behaving—and my father used to calf rope on our good barrel horses. There’s a lot to be said for a horse that can do both.
Savannah Magoteaux grew up in a rodeo family. Her mother, Cheryl Cody, is a former Professional Women's Rodeo Association Barrel Racing Champion and has won more than $40,000 with her current mount BetThis Is A Shiner. Savannah's father, Jeff Magoteaux, was an International Professional Rodeo Association World Champion Calf Roper.
After college at Oklahoma State University, Savannah worked for Pro Management, Inc., where she was the media and sponsor coordinator. Clients included the National Reining Breeders Classic, the National Reined Cow Horse Association, the Tulsa Reining Classic, Wide World of Horses, Rein In Cancer, and more. In her spare time she penned articles for Barrel Horse News and Quarter Horse News She moved to Texas in 2012 to be the associate publisher of Barrel Horse News. In 2016, Savannah took the same title for sister publication Quarter Horse News.
Currently, Savannah splits her time between her homes in Pilot Point, Texas, and Stratford, Oklahoma. She and her boyfriend, Paul, compete in team roping and enjoy golfing and cooking with friends. She makes the round trip between Texas and Oklahoma every weekend with her 10-year-old Corgi, Radar.
"What Do We Do Now?" is a blog series written by BHN's associate publisher Savannah Magoteaux, managing editor Kailey Sullins and associate editor Blanche Schaefer, where they discuss the struggles, joys, and rewards of training young barrel prospects as amateurs juggling full-time jobs, all from a real-life perspective. Read more at barrelhorsenews.com under the "Blogs" tab.