By Blanche Schaefer
Mary Burger and Sadiefamouslastwords charmed the rodeo world in 2016, breaking the regular-season earnings record and storming to the Women’s Professional Rodeo Association World Champion Barrel Racer title—Burger’s second. Burger also set a new record as the oldest National Finals Rodeo competitor at 68 years old, and she credits the fairytale season to her loveable home-trained gelding “Mo.”
Burger shares a very special relationship with the 8-year-old buckskin by Sadies Frosty Drift and out of Porky And Bess by Dash Ta Fame. She knows him inside and out, having trained and ridden him since he was 2. Mo looks forward to seeing Burger every day.
“Every time I walk in the barn, he whinnies at me because he knows he’s going to get attention,” Burger said. “When I walk up to his stall, he sticks his head out and whisks me with the top of his lip. He’ll give me a lick—we call that kisses—and when he gives kisses, he gets a cookie.”
Mo has a few quirks when he’s out in public at a rodeo or barrel race. Burger always makes sure to find a quiet spot to warm him up, because he loves the big crowds a little too much. Mo also likes to be left alone during a barrel run, so Burger doesn’t carry a whip. Her intimate understanding of his personality has helped Mo enjoy running barrels day in and day out.
“His only quirk is when he feels like showing off, he plays rough. I try to stay away from the crowd, because he shows off so bad,” Burger said with a laugh. “When you run him, don’t hit him, because if you hit him he’ll slow down. He runs hard and is long strided, so he covers the ground. If somebody were to whip him, he probably wouldn’t enjoy running barrels like he does. When he comes out of the arena, he’s happy like ‘Oh, let’s go again!’ He loves what he does. He has no mean bones in him.”
Burger keeps Mo’s exercise routine simple at home. She warms him up in the arena, and then it’s off to the pasture for a fun and relaxing ride where Mo likes to let loose and play.
“I just do circles around barrels, side pass through the poles; walk, trot, canter and then I ride off into the hay field or down around the pond,” Burger said. “When he gets around that area he sometimes wants to show off and play. He’s business most of the time in the exercise arena—but he does have that playful side.”
Burger says Mo’s playfulness one of the most enjoyable facets of his personality. She quips that Mo reminds her of a legendary entertainment figure in the rodeo community.
“If he was somebody in person; if Mo was to be a superstar, I think it would be Leon Coffee because he’s a clown,” Burger said with a laugh of the famed rodeo clown and bullfighter. “I told Leon that one time, and he laughed and thought that was so funny.”
There’s no doubt Burger and Mo share something special; a bond that only comes around once in a horseperson’s lifetime, if you’re lucky. Burger says Mo’s love is palpable each day.
“I think what he says to me every day when I walk into the barn is ‘I love you,’ because he always nickers for me and is glad to see me,” Burger said affectionately. “I think he would say he appreciates everything I do for him, because he loves everything. He loves to be brushed and pampered and petted and talked to and handled. He’s a people horse, and he knows he’s special.”
Mo’s impressive statistics come second to Burger—first and foremost, Mo is her best friend.
“He’s so talented and loves everything he does for you, even though he has his little quirks. It’s just his personality and the way he likes to perform,” Burger said. “He’s part of my life, so he would be my best friend.”
Blanche Schaefer is associate editor of Barrel Horse News. Email comments on this article to [email protected]