joy wargoJoy Wargo and Smokin Koa Lena at the 2010 BFA World Championships. Photo by Kenneth Springer.

BHN: Tell us a little more about your horse, Smokin Koa Lena—Where you got him, how long you’ve had him and what your plans are for him?

Wargo: My husband, Trent, and I bought two colts from Chris Lybbert in February of their 2-year-old year. Smokin Koa Lena was one of them. They were three-quarter brothers, and we bought them with the intent to sell them at the BFA sale that year. We halter broke them and started them ourselves. Both were nice geldings come sale time, loping the pattern and started in the team roping. We repurchased “Smoke” at the sale that year. I tried to sell him throughout his 3-year-old year and was unsuccessful. I was fortunate to spend some time riding with LaTricia Duke, and she helped me step Smoke up to the next level and continued to help guide us through our first successful futurity year. We sold Smoke just before Christmas, and he will be starting his rodeo career this year.

BHN: How long have you been running barrels? Is this the biggest win of your career?
Wargo: I have run barrels since I was a teenager, and I’ve been riding young horses for the last five years. This is my third futurity horse; however, it’s my first successful futurity year. Smoke started our futurity year with a third-place finish in the Champions of Champions Slot race. He placed in the BFA futurity average and in the long round of the slot race at the LG Pro Classic in February 2010, placed in the Better Barrel Races Futurity consolation round and the Fort Smith consolation round. Smoke is the AQHA Amateur Barrel Racing Reserve World Champion. The BFA futurity in Oklahoma City was the biggest win of my barrel racing career. Smoke had a super year with lifetime earnings so far of $51,000.

BHN: Do you prefer horses more cow-bred or run-bred?
Wargo: I do prefer to ride horses that have some cow breeding in their pedigree. I prefer a smaller, quicker-footed, bigger-stopping horse. I think a horse that is cowy will hunt the turn in the barrel race, and that makes my job easier. I grew up running barrels on the horses that were more push style with lots of turn, so I imagine that is why I like that kind. It’s in my comfort zone.

BHN: What was the most exciting part about your big victory? Did you accomplish your goals?
Wargo: Our goal was to make the finals, so that was exciting before even adding in placing in the rounds and second in the average. It was pretty neat to be competitive with the “best in the business” futurity trainers and jockeys—at the risk of sounding goofy. It was gratifying to be congratulated by some of the industry’s top riders.

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