Barrel racing frontrunners Hallie Hanssen and Tres Movidas are blazing the trail to the $500,000 WCRA Semifinals.
By Kendra Santos
Content brought to you by WCRA Rodeo
Barrel horse futurity aficionados have no doubt heard of Hallie Hanssen, her tall talents as a trainer and winning ways as a cloverleaf jockey. Rodeo fans need to buckle up now, too, because Hallie and her current main mount, Tom Jacobs’ mare Tres Movidas, are the leaders of the barrel racing pack heading into the World Champions Rodeo Alliance Semifinals, which is coming November 15–18 to the Lazy E Arena in Guthrie, Oklahoma.
Hallie, who lives in rural Hermosa, South Dakota, with Lee Hanssen, her husband and partner in Hallie Hanssen Barrel Horses, has lifetime earnings closing in on the $1 million mark. The gritty little mare “Vida,” whose American Quarter Horse Association registered name appropriately means “three moves” in Spanish, according to Hallie, has already racked up lifetime earnings of $100,000. The mare by Tres Seis and out of Sheza Blazin Move by Blazin Jetolena is only 6, and she’s only been to a handful of rodeos.
“The amount of heart and try she has make her pretty special,” said the 37-year-old barrel racer, who’s been riding and training the sorrel superstar since the mare was 3. “She’s just so consistent, and it doesn’t matter about the ground or how big or small the pattern. She tries her heart out every time. Vida (which means lifetime in Spanish) won quite a bit before she ever ran at a rodeo. She’s made the [Old Fort Days Futurity and Derby] finals all three years (the futurity as a 4-year-old and the derby as a 5- and 6-year-old; Vida and Hallie posted the fastest time of the prestigious event in 2017). This is her last derby year. Now she needs something else to do, so going to a few rodeos is the next thing.”
When Hallie says “a few,” she means it. Hallie took Vida to just nine Badlands Circuit rodeos this year and qualified for this weekend’s Badlands Circuit Finals Rodeo in Minot, North Dakota. They won three of those circuit rodeos and placed at about all the others. Unlike Hallie, Vida has an attitude.
“She’s a very grouchy horse,” Hallie smiled. “For about a half hour before and after you make a run on her, she’s the happiest a horse can be. She’s so excited before she runs, and afterwards, when she’s still on that adrenaline rush. But once that wears off, she goes back to being a grump. We’ve pulled some embryos out of her, and when her yearling filly was born, her ears were laid flat back, so we nicknamed her “Grumpy Cat.” Vida has a big presence about her, and her mane is ridiculously long—down to her knees. People want to pet her. But she turns and pins her ears at them. When she’s running barrels, she’s so happy. You can tell which horses love their job.”
Barrel racing frontrunners Hallie and Vida are blazing the trail to the $500,000 WCRA Semifinals, where the top 150 point earners in the WCRA’s Virtual Rodeo Qualifier system will compete. There’s a special perk at the top, as the eight with the most points in each event get a bye in the preliminary and semifinals rounds and advance directly to the finals at the Semifinals. The cutoff date for contestants to nominate events for the Semifinals is October 29. Nominate now at app.wcrarodeo.com.
“Lee rides with me all day, every day,” Hallie said. “We work side by side, and he gets on the colts first, to get all the fresh off them before I ride them. He also handles the business part of our operation and keeps track of everything. He’s the one who got me into the WCRA. He noticed that Sarah Christensen, who’s also from South Dakota, qualified for Salt Lake City in July. He looked into figuring out how it all works with the nominations, because Sarah doesn’t really rodeo, either. Lee researched it all, and got me going with my [VRQ] points.”
It’ll be fun for the Hanssens, whose breeding and training business includes standing three stallions, to see how the current four-legged star of their program stacks up against the rodeo royalty at the WCRA Semifinals. Hallie and Lee winter in Weatherford, Texas, so it won’t be too long of a drive up to the Lazy E.
“This is a horse that can win at a top level, so getting to run her at really good money at the WCRA Semifinals is a great opportunity,” said Hallie, who typically rides five to seven futurity horses a year and is sponsored by Platinum Coach, Bimeda, Tami Semas Barrel Saddles, ESMS, Cowgirl Tuff, Flexineb, Manga Wave, Omega Fields, Saddleright, Ultracruz, and Flaharty Bits. “We can’t haul hard to the rodeos and leave our business and all the colts at home for long periods of time, so it means a lot to have this chance. Some girls do both, but most either go to the futurities or the rodeos. They’re typically two different crowds, so it’ll be fun to get everyone together in Guthrie.”
Hallie isn’t concerned about how the tough mare will handle the high-pressure environment at the WCRA Semifinals.
“I’ve run there at the Lazy E quite a bit, and I’m pretty sure Vida will like it,” Hallie said. “She’s not too picky about anything, and the ground there has always been good. I’m pretty confident in her. I think she’ll do great. I feel like she can run with the best horses out there.”
In addition to the Days of ’47 in Salt Lake City, Utah, the WCRA will host three “majors” in 2019, for a total of four events featuring $1 million guaranteed payoffs in the coming year. The top eight finishers at the Semifinals at the Lazy E will advance to the first 2019 major in January 2019. Tickets to the $500,000 WCRA Semifinals are available at ticketmaster.com. For more information on the WCRA, visit WCRA.com.