Meet Florida’s Kim Landry, one of the most dominant trainers on the futurity circuit in the ‘80s and ‘90s.
By Tanya Randall, originally published in the September 2013 issue of Barrel Horse News
She was the first woman outside of the rodeo arena to win $1 million running barrels. Her name is synonymous with On The Money Red and easy stop bits. She owned the Old Fort Days Futurity in the 1990s. She coached youth champions. She won—and lost—with a smile on her face. Kim Landry is one in a million.
The Starke, Florida, native has been absent from the limelight in recent years, having been diagnosed with an aggressive form of dementia. Once one of the most charismatic barrel racers in the country, Kim Landry now prefers the comforts of her family and the training grounds where she made so many champions—both equine and human. Shows have gone on, other champions have been named, but the barrel racing industry misses her. She may forget, but we never will.
Kim “Horse” Tenly, as she called herself during a phase in elementary school, grew up in Starke. Her parents, Sonny and Lane Tenly, spent the early years of their marriage caring for the farm of a local doctor, and of course, the farm had horses.
“We have 8 mm film that I had converted to DVDs,” Landry’s younger sister, Sonja Baldree, said. “We were watching them the other day, and in most of the pictures, Kim is riding in the saddle in front of my dad. He used to be in a local sheriff’s posse. Anytime he was at the barn, she was with him.”
Kim, 54, also wore out the springs on her Hobby Horse.
“It seemed like every movie we watched, Kim was on it,” Baldree said with a laugh. “In one, it shows me walking up—I’m waiting my turn—and she just pushes me away. She was bouncing so hard, that thing was actually moving across the yard. She was riding it like crazy. My mom said, ‘You rarely got to ride it, Sonja.’”
After the family moved to town, Landry got her horse fix at the local riding club that her grandparents attended on Friday nights. When she was in elementary school, she inherited her cousin’s horse, Roscoe, that lived at her grandparents’ farm.
“She would get on it at first,” Baldree chuckled. “She’d get it all saddled up and walk it around. Then she’d say, ‘Sonja, come here.’ She’d put me on the horse and tell me to walk to the creek and back. I didn’t know anything about horses and to this day I’m scared of them. I would take it out to the creek and back and she’d tell me do it again and kick. She even gave me a switch to make it go. She didn’t want to get on it until she was sure it wouldn’t buck or anything. When she realized it was a gentle horse, we never got on it again she wouldn’t let us. She rode it nonstop.”
About the time she entered fifth grade, Landry talked her dad into building a fence so she could bring Roscoe to the house. From that point on, several other horses and ponies came and went, but her desire to ride never waned.
“She was just crazy about horses,” Baldree said. “No one really taught her. She just kind of learned on her own.”
From Squeak to Roar
Landry became interested in the barrel futurity game during the mid-1980s. When she was pregnant with her son, Dusty, she sent her futurity hopeful to Squeak Larkins, whom she’d known since her riding club days.
“After she rode that mare and loved how she felt, she decided that she wanted to learn what I did,” Larkins recalled.
That meant mastering the art of the Easy Stop hackamore.
“She learned to deal with an Easy Stop better than most,” Larkins said.
Landry devoted herself to mastering Larkins’ methods, hauling to her house on a regular basis.
“We had a good time doing what we did,” Larkins said. “She’d come and ride with me before every futurity. We had a little empire with Kim going out there and winning what she did.”
A year after she started riding with Larkins, Landry won her first futurity—the Eastern Quarter Horse Association Futurity in Raleigh, North Carolina, in 1988 with Kellis Secret, owned by her longtime friend Paul Stanley who used to compete alongside her at the gaming shows.
“Squeak was Kim’s hero,” Stanley said. “She relied on Squeak a lot.”
Soon Landry was crisscrossing the country, traveling event to event. She was putting Florida and Larkins’ Easy Stop on the map.
“There were more futurities then than there are now, but you could go and win both goes and the average and win about $3,000 or $4,000,” Stanley said. “By the time you had to tdrive from where we were, it was always a struggle. It didn’t matter to her, though. She’d throw six horses in the trailer and go off by herself.”
Landry’s sister was always amazed that she would just take off across the country by herself.
“I always admired Kim, how she would load up by herself and drive for hours to those shows,” Baldree said. “ We loved hearing stories about being out on the road, and she met so many interesting people. She always had interesting stories to tell.”
In 1993, after winning her first Old Fort Days Futurity, Landry left her job of 16 years with Gold Kist, which is now Southern States Feed, to train full time at her Cloverleaf Farm.
“She was the fiercest competitor I’ve ever competed against in my life,” fellow icon Talmadge Green said. “She and Celie (Whitcomb) Ray were the two that I knew I had to pack my lunch if I was going to outrun them.”
Leading futurity trainer and rider Ryann Pedone, who spent many summers with Landry as a child, says Landry had the best mindset.
“She might have 10 horses, and nine out of the 10 may run off, but she might win the whole thing on that last horse,” Ryann said. “She never got down, mentally. She let it roll off her back easily. She was a good winner and not a sore loser.”
Fellow competitor and leading rider Marne Loosenort says Landry’s ferocity as a competitor was inspiring.
“She wasn’t out there thumping on her horse when he came out of the arena after doing something wrong,” Loosenort said. “Someone would say something to her and she would just laugh it off. She never let it get to her.”
Loosenort notes that one of the main things that allowed Landry to excel with some of the more difficult horses was how broke she got them.
“She was ahead of the game, putting a handle on them like she did,” Loosenort said. “She had an awesome work ethic. She was always working hard, win or lose. When she was going, she was winning a lot of money, and it wasn’t like there were slot races back then. Especially with On The Money Reds—that was a feat in itself.”
When asked about advice for beginners, Landry candidly told a local newspaper reporter, “Learn how to control your horse. There is nothing worse than a wacky, uncontrollable barrel horse.”
On The Money Red
To this day, her peers in the futurity industry marvel over Landry’s success with the On The Money Red line of horses.
“She was a great rider because she won a lot of money on the On The Money Reds,” Green said. “I love On The Money Reds because they won me a lot, but they made you earn your money when you rode them. She was one of the toughest to beat, and she was usually on an On The Money Red.”
Nowadays, trainers are more likely to move on than spend the time Landry did bringing the On The Money Reds up to scratch.
“Most of us don’t want to sign up for that,” Loosenort said with a laugh. “Nowadays we’d move on from a horse like that.”
Stanley said she got along so well with the line because she was as stubborn as they were.
“She actually started off with the On The Money Reds from James Bennett,” Stanley explained. “He had some really nice mares. She really like the colts out of this one mare.”
From Bennett, Landry got her favorite horse, Chocolatta, by Krimps Elmer and out of Sunnys Go Go Too. The next horse Landry got out of Sunnys Go Go Too was Reds Corky, by On The Money Red. Reds Corky’s full sister, Reds Gogo Too, was Landry’s first Old Fort Days Futurity Champion in 1993. Her two back-to-back Old Fort Days Futurity Champions were by On The Money Red as well. See My Money won in 1996 and On The Money Luv followed in 1997.
Other great On The Money Reds that Landry trained included Little Son Of A Gun, Naho Money (Paint), Money Fast As You and Reds Blueprint, to name a few.
The NBHA Connection
The National Barrel Horse Association was dear to Landry’s heart. She became a charter member of the fledgling association in 1993 and was the first district director for Florida 02.
“Kim was my first thought for a district director,” longtime Florida state director Linda Jones said. “It’s the district that Paul Stanley has now. Paul stepped right in when she stepped down, but he’d been with her since the beginning, so it was a team effort.”
Landry was named the first District Director of the Year by the NBHA at their first World Finals in Augusta, Georgia, in 1993.
“She had done the most,” Jones said. “Her district had grown the fastest. She had the most members. Kim was a great director. She just drew people to her.”
For the honor, Landry was awarded a reclining chair.
“Last year it was our 20th year and there was a picture of her sitting in that chair in the back of a pickup,” Jones said with a laugh. “They rode her around the arena with her sitting in the reclining chair, waving to the crowd.”
Landry also won the futurity at the inaugural NBHA Finals with Reds Gogo Too. She was second on Hold It Back Bart.
For years, Landry would be a fixture at NBHA events and always hauled a passel of children to the NBHA Youth World.
Paying It Forward
For as fierce of a competitor as she was, Landry had a soft spot for children, especially those struggling to find their way in the sport.
“She remembered what it was like for her,” Baldree said. “My parents weren’t into this, and they didn’t really understand. She could see herself in those kids. They wanted to do this really bad, and she wanted to help them and pave the way for them.”
Baldree’s daughter, 1998 NBHA Youth 1D World Champion Katie Baldree, says her Aunt Kim is responsible for her barrel racing and horse obsession.
“She gave me my first pony years ago,” said Katie, who at the time of this article had just returned to barrel racing after a hiatus for nursing school. “Throughout the years, she taught me everything she knew about horses, barrel racing and competition. She hauled me all over the country with her, letting me drive her giant rig when I was not legally able to drive it. I never knew what was in store when I went off with Aunt Kim.”
Lee Pedone, Ryann’s father, took note of Landry’s way with horses and children.
“Kim was famous, and she didn’t even know she was famous,” Lee said. “If you’d watch her at a race, there’d always be some little kid on a ragtag horse that probably didn’t have a prayer, didn’t have a dad or anyone to help them. Kim would stop what she was doing and spend an hour with that kid. As much as she’d won, she’d always find time to help some kid. She was really good about that. I always tell Ryann to remember that.”
For Ryann, time spent with Kim was both educational and fun.
“We’d ride and go to the lake,” recalled Ryann, who was 8 or 9 when she first started riding with Landry. “She had guinea pigs and rabbits—I got a lot of rabbits from her. She had lots of cats and she would haul them with her. I remember one year at Brighton, she had this fluffy kitten that she was walking around. It was just crazy. She would always tell me I was the worst kid to keep because I was always getting up so early, being raised on a dairy.”
Pedone continued to learn techniques and feel throughout the years and still uses those lessons today in her own training program.
“I ride in a lot of bits now, but I can still tune in an Easy Stop,” Pedone said. “There were a lot of things that I didn’t really grasp until the last couple of years. I videotaped her working on my horses and she was showing me how to ride the horse up into the hole and shift your body to get them coming around on the backside. It took me 10 years to put it all together.”
It was just with children that Landry was blessed. Over the years, she’d share her best horses with Larkins, often under the guise that they needed tuning.
“Sometimes, I’d be without an open horse, and she’d leave me something of that caliber,” Larkins said. “One time, she left me Chocalotta for six months and told me to run him through Oklahoma City. That was the year she ended up badly breaking her leg. I won second on Chocalotta in the Sweepstakes in Oklahoma City. He was a pretty super horse. Back then, there wasn’t any horse out there that could outrun Chocalotta if he had his best run.”
About a decade ago, Landry quit hauling as hard. The futurity industry had undergone a change and with fuel prices soaring, it became difficult to make a trip from Florida to Texas to pay for itself. Having mostly ridden her own horses, Landry didn’t have a lot of horse owners to help foot the bills.
She also had new priorities—the grandbabies were coming along. Her daughter, Amanda Hardee, and Amanda’s husband Michael have three daughters—Jencie, Karlie and Tenly. Her son, Dusty, and his wife, Laura, added a set of twins—Ally and Colby—to the mix.
“Kim had a lot of fun when they cam along,” noted Baldree, who watched Landry with Jencie, especially at the barrel races.
Although she still has horses and rides, Landry doesn’t go to the jackpots much. She’s more comfortable at home.
Hardee, who recently moved home to help her mother, hopes she and Katie can continue her mother’s legacy in the arena.
“I dream that one day, I will be half the rider that my mom was,” Hardee said. “I told my cousin, Katie, the other day, ‘Wow, we had the best there was, right at our fingertips, and we still didn’t get it!’ Mom was my hero and still is. I just pray I can take her one more time to Fort Smith and Oklahoma City to watch us ride.”
Her work ethic, her ferocity as a competitor, her giving nature, and her overall bubbly personality made Landry an icon in the barrel racing industry.
“I’ve had young barrel racers ask me, ‘Who’s Kim Landry?’ She’s only like one of the best trainers ever,” Loosenort said. “She was very inspiring. It used to be a man’s game—it’s changed now—but she opened the door for us a little bit. She made us a little more bold. She set the stage for us all.”