This article originally appeared in the February 2010 issue of Barrel Horse News Rodeo Insider.
Q: What’s been the biggest thrill you’ve had as a professional barrel racer?
A: I made Omaha and Dallas the first year I went hard. I only went to approximately 30 rodeos and only ended up $10,000 out of qualifying for the National Finals Rodeo. I didn’t enter any fall rodeos—like Albuquerque, Oklahoma City, Amarillo—when the season went through October because I didn’t realize I even had a shot. Silly rookie—although that was not my rookie year, just a rookie at winning. Winning a round at the Pendleton Round Up is a dead even ringer to my biggest thrill.
Q: Do you have an off-season or chance to take a vacation? What’s the best part of that?
A: I have really put all my eggs into one basket, so to speak, the last couple years. I learned that my horses and I both need vacation time. The horses got a full three months off this fall, and I plan to keep them in shape, but do very limited traveling from April through mid-June this season. I hope that time off finds me on a beach in Mexico sipping a Mojito! I’ll be sure to send a letter.
Q: Can you name the favorite horses of your career?
A: RJ Primetime (“Petey”) has brought me the most success in the WPRA. I have qualified for several Wilderness Circuit Finals (WCF), the DNCFR, Omaha and Dallas aboard him, and nearly the NFR, as well. He has battled several health issues, primarily due to tying up), which I feel have really held him back.
Irish Wind Flight (Gus) carried me to a Reserve National High School Rodeo Championship (1998) and 7th place (1999). He also carried me to my first WCF in 1998. Oh, how I would love to have that horse now! I have been very blessed to ride a number of horses that I have placed on at some of the biggest rodeos across the nation.
Q: What items must you have in your gear bag/tack compartment?
A: Besides the obvious of a gazillion bits, saddles and boots, I would have to say my vet kit, duct tape and tools. If you know me, you know I am always breaking stuff. I usually attempt to fix it myself with a wrench and duct tape first. There is nothing those two items can’t fix!
I like to keep my vet kit stocked with all the essentials. You never know when or where a horse might colic, get cut, get stung or bit by an insect, tie up—I could go on and on. I have been in situations where these things have happened and having a fully stocked vet kit (minus a vet, which I would put in there, too, if he’d fit) has helped to save horses lives.
Q: What music or piece of technology helps you get by on the road?
A: I have to have my XM radio, iPod and laptop. With these three things, I could probably drive through an abyss! Actually, I think I have already done that. Have you ever driven from Clovis, Calif., all night to Guymon, Okla.? That might be the definition of abyss.
Q: What do you feed?
A: Because both my good horses have a tendency to tie up, they are on straight timothy or brome grass hay. My other horses get a good grass/alfalfa mix. Pete and Uh-Oh (my main mounts) have hit old man stage, so I currently have them on Equine Senior and rice bran. There are so many good products out there, but I have had the most luck with Purina grains. I am feeding my younger horses Equine Adult right now, but am looking to try them on Ultium. I didn’t have a lot of luck with Ultium on my horses that tie up, but I think it is a good product. All the horses I am competing on are also on Platinum CJ, which I think is well worth its weight in gold.
Q: Who’s on your team?
A: Because I travel so much, I have several people on my “team.” My main vet that I use is Billy Maupin at Idaho Equine Hospital in Nampa. In case you didn’t know, Billy taught Jesus to walk on water. I also use Chris Ray in Weatherford, Texas, and Shane Miller, who used to be at Littleton, Colo., and is now near Reno, Nev.
I have used several different shoers because it is nearly impossible to use the same one when you’re on the road (unless you’re married to one, hint, hint to any shoers out there). The Smith Brothers (Idaho), Will Nunn (Arizona), Fred Hunter (on the road and Utah) and Doug Pharr (on the road) have all done a wonderful job helping keep my horses feet right. I owe them my life, if they won’t take the beer I offer!
I have to thank my mom and dad, Teri and Sandy McLeod, as crucial members of my team. They are always there to support me through the ups and downs we all know happen on the road. Mom offers great insight when I am having trouble with my horses. Sometimes, on the outside looking in is the best view. Oh, and I have some pretty OK friends out there.
Q: If you could change anything in barrel racing, what would it be?
A: I really like where the barrel racing industry is right now. I think there is always room for improvement, but this is one horse industry that really hasn’t suffered as bad as most with the economy. I think it is great to see people anywhere from World Champions to 5D champions getting to do what they love, with the people and animals they love.
Megan McLeod Fast Facts
Favorite Actor/Actress: Russel Crowe, John C. Reilly and Owen Wilson. I am a movie buff and could name hundreds more.
Role Model: There are so many in so many aspects of life. My mom and Grandma are two of my biggest. The late Levi Wisness taught me more than he could ever know, and our troops should be role models to us all. And, of course, who could forget the Big Guy in the Sky.
Favorite TV Show: Friday Night Lights (“Why, hello, Tim Riggins”) and Grey’s Anatomy (“Stop it, Dr. McDreamy!”)
Favorite Piece of Tack: You really want me to name just one? Ha! I do love my Coats saddles.
Motto: All I can really say is that I know nothing but the road ahead. I have found that sometimes it is smooth and clear; sometimes it is long and rough. If you hold on to your dreams and never give up, you may not get what you wanted, but you will end up with what you need.
A few quotes that inspire that are: “All I have seen teaches me to trust the Creator for all I have not seen.” —Ralph Waldo Emerson; “Its not enough to be good if you have the ability to be better.” —Alberta Lee Cox
Hometown: Star, Idaho
Family: Dad, Sandy McLeod; Mom, Teri McLeod, Child #1, Woody (traveling Welsh Corgi); Child #2, Sullivan (traveling Bassett Hound)
Worst habit: Not eating right—I love cheese!
Best characteristic: I am told I am rarely seen without a smile on my face and or my sense of humor.
Hobbies: I love to play basketball and ski, though I rarely get a chance to do either!
What’s on your iPod: Everything. I like all genres of music. I have anything from Stevie Nicks to Michael Jackson to Seether to George Strait to Kenny G to Lady Gaga. And you thought I was kidding!
What do you drive? I rodeo in a Freightliner Sports Chassis and a Platinum trailer.
Favorite Movie: Wild Hearts Can’t Be Broken and Seabiscuit, among many others.
Favorite Magazine: Cosmopolitan and US.
Favorite Food: Probably Mexican or Italian anything!
How many horses do you have: Three that I take on the road, but we have lots more at home.
Horses names: Petey, Uh-Oh and Preacher.
Associations: WPRA, BRN4D and American West. I think that’s all.
Favorite saddle: I ride mostly Coats and Dale Martin.
Favorite bit: I am not as crazy about bits as some people are. Most all my horses work well in a light to medium bit. I get a lot of use out of my medium and long shank Ed Wright’s and my D-ring twisted wire snaffle. Trust me, I have some back up ammo when called for, though.
Characteristic you admire most in people: People who are honest and can be open minded. Friendly and humorous people are my kind of people.
Characteristic you despise: I try my best not to despise anyone for a behavior. Firstly, it is NOT our place to judge and secondly, we don’t always know the hand life has dealt them.
Attribute about horse you desire: Strong willed and big hearted. My mom told me something years ago when we used to buy a lot of horses off the track. She said she didn’t always necessarily like the horses that won, but instead the ones that fought for the race.
How many texts do you send in a day? OMG, like millions!
Goals? I am getting to a place in my life that is a little more balanced and stationary. I have been so fortunate to be able to travel and compete in so many places. I still have long-term goals of making the Finals and rodeoing, but recently I have realized my passion for the training side of the game. I have a real balance at home of rodeo, horses, family and other aspects of life. I see so many people put everything they have into rodeo, and lose sight of other roads in life. Those roads may not be important to those people, but they are to me. My goals have shifted towards teaching horses and people. I really like helping others.
Laura Lambert is a frequent contributor to Barrel Horse News. Send comments on this article to [email protected].