Several winners from 2019’s marquis end-of-season futurities—the Barrel Futurities of America World Championships and Better Barrel Races OKC Futurity—shared their tips for preparing colts to run competitively and keeping them happy at their first big shows.

OKC Rookie Futurity (2016 foals) Champion Jolene Montgomery (pictured above, photo by Dusty Saddles Photography)

“Do your homework as much as you can. Haul them as much as you can, and just pay attention to your ride. Whatever you feel going wrong, do your best to get it fixed as quick as you can. [Training horses takes] lots of practice. Years of practice, and just working your tail off. And keep trying.”

OKC Amateur Futurity Champion Jennifer Purselley-Cook

“Most barrel racers will laugh, but the keys to my program are to keep my horses healthy and exercised. I don’t really work barrels, I rarely practice barrels, and I trail ride a lot. A lot of my friends make fun of me because I even go to playdays. I think it’s good for them. If you’ve ever been to a playday, if your baby can handle playdays with screaming kids, then you can come to a futurity and they’ll hold it together.”

OKC Hold ‘Em (coming 5-year-olds) Champion Mitzi Mayes Duke

“Lots of exhibitions, lots of different stuff at home, but just trying to get them out and see stuff. I want them to be nice horses that someone can go on with and win. I just want them to be good horses, and I want someone to be able to ride behind me.”

BFA Juvenile Champion Hallie Hanssen

“Keeping them fit. We really try to keep them fit and happy. They have stalls with turnout and a run but we get them out, more for their mind, and we try to keep them as fit as we can and just happy.”

BFA Amateur Futurity Champion Wendy Weems

“Leading them, get them out of their stalls, spend time with them. I rarely sit in [the arena] to watch more than 50 riders before I’m back out and getting them out of their stalls. To me, relationship with these horses is everything, keeping them calm and spending a lot of time with them and getting them out of their stalls.”

BFA SuperStakes $100,000 Champion Leslie Willis

“It’s one of those things where you prepare and prepare and hope that you have them ready, and sometimes you do and sometimes you don’t…[SuperStakes Champion The Midnite Express] hauled good, and that’s not something that you can train, it’s just something that they take or they don’t take. [At the show] I hand-grazed him every day, got him out and just let him be a horse as much as possible without turning him loose and letting him get hurt.”


Blanche Schaefer is an avid barrel racer and managing editor of Barrel Horse News. Email comments or questions to [email protected]

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