World standings leader and bride-to-be Mattie Little, 22, dishes about skiing fantasies, allergy shots for horses, and those pesky lemon seeds that suck up through your straw.
BHN: How did you find Buggin To Kill (“Buggs”)?
ML: Her trainer and owner, Alicia Smith of Georgia, called my dad [Jud Little] and told him about her, and his wife at the time, Tammy, thought I should try her. I was up at Stillwater at Oklahoma State.
BHN: What horses had you competed on prior to finding her?
ML: I really didn’t have anything else except a 2D mare, and I was ready to step up. As a kid, I got to run Streaker – Angie Meador’s NFR horse Hesa Classy Osage – but he bowed a tendon and then passed away. I had a bunch of good horses in youth rodeo, then in college I got really busy and didn’t even have a horse or trailer; I went to school and I had a job at school and a little car I drove around.
BHN: What kind of job did you have?
ML: I worked in a restaurant. And I had jobs all through high school. When I was 16, my stepdad was like, ‘You’re getting a job; I don’t care how spoiled you are!’ I worked at a Steak And Shake, at a coffee stand, at Duncan Donuts; I worked at all these little cheesy places and at a place in Ardmore, and at a bed-and-breakfast in Estes Park, Colo.
BHN: Did you click with Buggin To Kill right off the bat?
ML: I actually had issues with her being sick because she had allergies. And she was still giving it her all. I ended up giving her allergy shots. My vet, Robin Johnson in Springer, Okla., had done some blood tests and found out she was allergic to about every kind of grass hay and all kinds of wood shavings – and carrots! I always had her on antibiotics, but she really came around after those shots. I gave her the shots under the skin every three to four days for a while, then every week, and now I’m down to monthly.
BHN: What’s your favorite non-barrel-racing-related hobby?
ML: Skiing! We have a boat and go out on the lake and ski and wakeboard, but I also love to snow ski and snowboard. My mom has a condo in Steamboat [Colo.] and we go all the time. And any other sport…I love softball – I used to do intramurals. And I golf with my mom a lot.
BHN: Do you have a favorite rodeo?
ML: I haven’t been to enough to really know, but it would be cool to go to the Texas Stampede. I went and watched every year. My little brothers would love to go see me there – it’s where they watch the Stars play hockey all the time.
BHN: How many siblings do you have?
ML: I have an older brother named Penn Little who’s 25 and working in Tucson. And I have two half-brothers, John and James, who are 10 and 11.
BHN: What’s your mom’s name?
ML: Linda Reaman. And my stepdad is Mike Reaman. They live near Dallas, where I grew up. He worked in sales and advertising for Verizon and my mom is a hygienist.
BHN: What would you do for a job if it wasn’t running barrels?
ML: I’d like to own a bed-and-breakfast in Colorado…Crested Butte or Steamboat…and be a ski bum. My stepdad is from Crested Butte. And I fell in love with Steamboat. I could be a ski bum for the rest of my life. My dad thinks I’m crazy!
BHN: Something tells me Judd is not a skier.
ML: No, he’s afraid of heights. But horses don’t bother him. He used to play polo, so I don’t know how he can be afraid of heights after swinging those mallets.
BHN: Do you have a Significant Other?
ML: Carl Jackson. He’s from Ardmore; we met in high school; broke up for college and now we’re back together. We’re getting married October 10. He works at the [Jud Little] Ranch welding; shoes my horse and a couple for my friends and works for my dad so he can go with me on the road. He used to have nothing to do with horses; he used to be a dirt bike guy. Loved anything that had a clutch. Now he’s got his own horse.
BHN: Now for even more serious questions. What’s your favorite food?
ML: Um, carbs. Cookies; chocolate; anything sweet. Dad calls me Mattie Sweets because I love chocolate and anything bad for you.
BHN: Favorite store?
ML: Uh, American Eagle?
BHN: Favorite brand of jeans?
ML: Lucky Brand
BHN: Best tip to survive an all-night drive?
ML: I would have to say Lex & Terry on XM radio. It’s a funny show out of Dallas that I used to listen to all the time. They play it at midnight ’til like 4 in the morning. And I switch driving off so somebody can help me. Whatever rest I can get I’ll take. But usually I’m so nervous I just stay awake!
BHN: Cat or dog?
ML: I hate cats! My dog, Romeo, is a Westie.
BHN: Steak or chicken?
ML: Steak. Filet. Medium rare.
BHN: Texas or Oklahoma?
ML: Texas. It’s warmer and just in general it seems like at rodeos in Oklahoma, it always rains one night and I’m always up the night it rains. I just like Texas rodeos better.
BHN: Ratey or free?
ML: Automatic is what I like the most.
BHN: Pet Peeve?
ML: [Without hesitation] I hate lemons in my water. I hate when they do that because the little seed will fall to the bottom and when you’re drinking out of a straw it comes up through and chokes you. Put it on the side. It’s a waste.
BHN: Best advice for someone trying to do what you’re doing?
ML: I’ve learned that if you don’t keep going, you’re never going to get there. I remember not wanting to keep going and my dad telling me to go; that I could fill my permit. I’d made so many bad runs; it’s humbling and you want to give up, but you’ll get there. It’s so funny how barrel racing can be so up and down. It just takes time. If I didn’t have the people to make me do it and support me, I wouldn’t go as far as I should [laughing].