Pat Hutter’s love of horses and numbers have added up to an incredible legacy in the barrel racing and rodeo world.
Winning riders and horses are the headline grabbers, but it’s the hard workers behind the scenes who make it all possible. It’s people like Pat Hutter, who in her quiet, classy way, helped further the sport of barrel racing.
The long-time secretary and treasurer of the Barrel Futurities of America has made a lasting impact on the barrel racing industry and was instrumental in the creation of the BFA’s signature event—the World Championship Futurity.
Her crafty touch and attention to detail also allowed her to carry on her family legacy through her tireless efforts on behalf of her hometown rodeo— the Rodeo of the Ozarks in Springdale, Arkansas.
At 84, the effervescent Hutter is still as chatty and sharp as ever. She remembers her work on behalf of the BFA and other rodeo organizations fondly.
“It’s been a fun road, and I wouldn’t trade it for nothing,” Hutter said. “I still love it, and I still love people. I appreciate people who still remember me. I just enjoyed it.”
Don’t Want To
As a child, horses weren’t exactly Hutter’s thing. Her favorite method of transportation and enjoyment was a green Schwinn bicycle she purchased with the money she earned working in her family’s strawberry patch.
That all changed when her father Thurman “Shorty” Parsons decided the family would be involved with the local riding club.
“I had two brothers and a sister, and they all rode horses and I rode a bicycle,” Hutter chuckled. “When I was 11, they formed a riding club in Springdale, and Daddy decided we were going to do it as a family. He said we were all going to ride. I said, ‘I don’t want to.’ Daddy said, ‘We’re all going to ride and do this as a family.’” While her siblings were very proficient with the horses, having helped with the family’s cattle operation, tiny Hutter wasn’t comfortable horseback.
It didn’t help that her first experience riding to the local riding club from her home was a bad one.
“We lived three miles from there, and back then, you didn’t have trailers,” Hutter said. “We got down the driveway from the barn, and my horse ran off with me down the grape rows. My brother ran up and caught me. I got off and said, ‘I’m not riding no more.’ Daddy said, ‘Get on the horse. You’re going to ride.’ Of course, I did as I was told. I was scared to death, but from then on, you couldn’t get me off one.”
Hutter joined her brothers, whom she says were pretty good ropers, and her sister, who barrel raced, in the arena.
“If we didn’t have a good horse, Daddy would go find us one,” Hutter said. “We had lights, which was really unusual back then. Daddy strung lights, so we could ride at night and work during the day. The boys were really good ropers. I tried to rope, but I wasn’t too successful. I even rode bulls at two or three all-girl rodeos.”
Hutter also won the Miss Rodeo of the Ozarks title.
“I never really liked to compete in the queens’ contest, but Daddy said if you rode you needed to get in everything that you could,” Hutter said. “He’d always foot the bill.”
During Hutter’s barrel racing heyday, invitational barrel races were common. Rodeo committees would invite contestants to compete and represent various sponsors. Hutter was invited to the American Royal in Kansas City for 19 years and to the Fort Worth Stock Show—before it became Women’s Professional Rodeo Association-approved—for 27 years.
“The last year I ran at Fort Worth, I came home and told [my husband] Joe, ‘I’m so old, it looks like a bunch of kids running with me,’” Hutter said, who still has all her medals and pins from the rodeo. “He said it didn’t matter as long as I was having fun and winning a little. I said I wasn’t going back. The next year when they sent me an invitation, I wrote them back thanking them, saying I enjoyed it all.”
Hutter also never joined the WPRA as a competitor, because cardholders were prohibited from entering non-WPRA rodeos during that time.
“Back then, you could get a permit and go wherever you wanted to,” Hutter said. “When it got to where you had to join, I didn’t because my brothers and sister did the amateur rodeos, and you couldn’t do both. I decided to get out so I could go where I wanted to.”
Hutter hung up her competitive spurs in her 60s, and since undergoing knee replacement surgery 16 years ago, she hasn’t been on a horse.
Hutter’s understanding of event production began with her father’s creation of the Rodeo of the Ozarks in 1944. With soldiers coming home from World War II, Parsons believed the area needed a reason to celebrate.
It was through the rodeo that Hutter met the love of her life, her husband Joe Hutter, who managed the Curtis Candy Company’s black pony hitch.
“For three years, my Daddy tried to get the Curtis Candy Company’s pony hitch for the rodeo,” Hutter said. “Finally, they said they’d send the ponies. Joe and two other boys came with a fancy red trailer and all. Daddy had stalls set up for the ponies, and they came a week early. When the phone rang at 3 o’clock in the morning, I woke up and asked Daddy if I could go with him. I always went with him everywhere I could. I went with him and helped them unload the ponies.”
Just six months after the rodeo, the couple married.
“I had a very special husband,” Hutter said. “He was quite the Hackney and Shetland pony showman when I married him. We traveled to all the state fairs with 24 Shetland ponies before we went with the barrel horses.”
When they relocated to Sherman, Texas, shortly after their marriage, the Hutters traveled to Havana, Cuba, to take ponies to Dictator Fulgencio Batista, whose son wanted to get into the Shetland pony business.
“That was about the time they started fighting over there,” Hutter said. “We just got back when they quarantined everyone. If we had stayed another day, we would have had to stay another two or three months over there.”
The Hutters returned to Springdale when they were ready to start a family. Her husband trained horses on the side while working for his father and brother- in-law in their turkey houses.
“My daddy and brother had 20 turkey houses, and Joe took care of 18 of those,” Hutter said. “After the 18th year, he said, ‘I hate these turkeys. We’re going to train barrel horses.’ Joe knew what he was doing. He trained some good horses. He’d get them going and I’d say, ‘Joe, I want to keep this one,’ and he’d tell me, ‘Oh, I’ll get you another one.’ He always did.”
Barrel Futurities of America
Always skilled with numbers, Hutter got her associate degree in business from the University of Arkansas and was a master bookkeeper.
“I just loved figures and all,” Hutter said. “Daddy had a feed store, so I helped them. I always did all that.”
Her proficiency carried over to the horses, when she was asked to serve as secretary and timekeeper for many events. “I secretaried a lot of rodeos, mostly amateur ones,” Hutter said. “I did time-keeping at some of them, even at GRA (Girl’s Rodeo Association, the precursor to the WPRA). I’ve always been one with a pen in my hand. I’m not as good with computerized [systems] as I am pen and pencil, but I’ve learned quite a bit on that. I don’t know what we’d do without computers. When I started we just had carbon copies.”
In 1983 at Grand Prairie, Texas, Hutter was part of the group that founded the Barrel Futurities of America. The purpose of the association was to establish set rules to standardize the futurity industry. Hutter was a natural fit, serving as the secretary and treasurer. She held the secretary position for 22 years until 2005. With pen and paper, Hutter served as secretary for some of the largest barrel racing events in the country at the time. She even produced the Springdale Futurity a couple of years with her husband. It wasn’t until the second year of the BFA World Championships that she had the aid of a computer.
“The first year, we just used a typewriter,” Hutter chuckled. “Charlene Glover from Guthrie (Oklahoma) called me and asked if I knew how to use a computer. I said, ‘Why no, I’ve never touched one. I just got a new typewriter.’ She took her vacation and helped me put all the entries on computer. That was the second year of the futurity. My good friend Glenna Harrell in Springdale was a CPA and went with me. Then Tyler, her son—who still helps Kenneth Springer—went with me.” Hutter’s longtime friend Florence Youree—who served as BFA president for nearly as long as Hutter was secretary— says Hutter could handle just about anything and not lose her cool.
“If you wanted anything done and done right, you asked her,” Youree said. “Pat wouldn’t let people rattle her. She was so smooth and got along so well with everybody. She’s something else.”
Hutter says her love of people helped her not develop a bad temper.
“I always kept my cool,” Hutter said. “I might be mad, but I’d like to think I never showed it. I love everyone…some of them I liked better than others, but I just enjoyed people.”
Although she’s stepped away from the BFA, Hutter always tries to make a trip to both the BFA World Championship Futurity and the National Finals Rodeo in December for a couple of days, if she’s able. She’s still involved with her father’s baby—the Rodeo of the Ozarks, serving as president of the board of directors and helping with the queens’ contest.
While Hutter’s rodeo and barrel racing family is strong, her husband and son have sadly passed. Joe died three years ago in 2015, and their son Mike followed a year later. Hutter’s daughter Melinda still lives in the area.
“I’ve really had a good life,” Hutter said. “I don’t think I’ve ever had what I’ve not wanted. I’ve been a little spoiled. I’m not rich, but I’m rich in friendships.”
Hutter credits her faith in God for her rich life.
“I was 11 years old when I was saved,” Hutter said. “It’s by the grace of God that I’m still here. I’m 84 years old and have a Dr. Pepper every day. The Lord has blessed me and allowed me to live the life that I have, and I’m thankful for every minute of it.”
This article was originally published in the September 2018 issue of Barrel Horse News.