Slick By Design is the kind of horse that fills the dreams of young horse-crazy girls—a striking black stallion, built for speed with the drive to win, and a kind and gentle heart beneath it all. Four-time National Finals Rodeo qualifier Michele McLeod has had the pleasure of running and hauling “Slick” for owners Jason Martin and Charlie Cole of Highpoint Performance Horses since 2013.
McLeod says Slick’s sweet nature and curious personality make him a joy to be around at the barn. The 2007 stallion, who’s by Designer Red and out of Dreams Of Blue by Dream On Dancer, insists on staying at the center of the action when the McLeod family is riding and training.
“He’s very, very kind. He wants to know that everything is right,” McLeod said. “He’s got a really good work ethic, he wants to do his job right, and he likes to be involved. At home, if he can get tied up in the arena, he likes to watch other horses work or I have a round pen I turn him out in so he can look over the arena and watch us ride.”
Slick doesn’t change in the hectic environment of rodeos and barrel races. He enjoys watching a good rodeo and checking out his competition in the barrels before it’s his turn to go. Amidst it all, he never loses his focus on the task at hand—making a winning run and listening to McLeod’s cues.
“When it’s time to run, he likes to go and watch the rodeo and the barrels—he’ll pay attention, and his ears go forward and he watches what goes on in the arena,” McLeod said. “He is all business; he’s a true athlete and he really, really likes to compete. Horses can stand next to him, bump into him, be right on top of him, and he could care less—he is just concentrated on what his job is.”
Outside the arena, Slick enjoys the perks that come with being an elite athlete and one of the top barrel horses in the country. He also relishes in the simple pleasures of being a horse, like rolling in fresh shavings.
“When he’s at home, I turn him out, ride, and turn him back out and then he goes in the barn at night. On the road travelling between rodeos, I try to go to a quiet place where there’s not a lot of horses so I can give him as big of a pen as possible,” McLeod said. “He goes to the AquaTred at home, and he likes the cold water spa. We do the P3 [magnetic therapy] on him, and he does enjoy that. He loves fresh shavings. If there are new shavings, he will immediately roll and get down in the shavings—he knows whenever they’re fresh.”
McLeod says Slick is generally easy to handle except for one quirk—stay away from him with clippers.
“Luckily he doesn’t grow a lot of hair, but I use the little hand shaver to do his muzzle and his face because he really does not like clippers,” McLeod said. “I told him he’s too handsome so he has to have a clean-shaven face, so we make it work.”
Slick certainly looks every bit of the powerful and athletic stallion he is, although McLeod says you’d never know he was a stud based on his demeanor.
“If anyone spent five minutes with him, he’s the kindest, most biggest-hearted horse you’ll ever be around. He’s just a lover,” McLeod said. “He is happy to be around everybody and work and he loves his job, and I think that’s what makes him such a phenomenal athlete. He loves to run barrels, and he’d run barrels every day of the week if he could.”
Blanche Schaefer is associate editor of Barrel Horse News. Email comments on this article to [email protected]