By Trisha Johnson, originally published in the June 2005 issue of BHN
A year ago this month, it was doubtful whether or not Terri Alexander, Carrollton, Ga., would ever be able to ride again, let alone win a Speedhorse Futurity championship.
Alexander spent two weeks in the hospital in May 2004 following a bad wreck at a Hattiesburg, Miss., barrel race where her horse rolled over her, breaking several ribs and bruising a lung. Suffering a loss of 90-percent sight in her right eye from the incident, Alexander has spent the last year trying to become accustomed to riding and barrel racing again.
Alexander’s Futurity winning mount is more than just another futurity colt to her. Having bred the gelding out of Docs Lucky Mandy, Alexander’s former champion rodeo mount, it was all the more special for she and her husband, Tony, to take home the Non-Pro Futurity win in Oklahoma City.
“Cowboy,” as Alexander calls the rambunctious colt, is not the first Hesa Gay Dreamer colt she has trained and been successful on. Rockets Daydream, Cowboy’s half brother, was Alexander’s stand-out futurity mount in 1998, the year in which she won the Barrel Futurities of America (BFA) World Championship.
“The Hesa Gay Dreamer horses that I’ve ridden, they’re a little different kind of horses, and everybody in the world doesn’t get along with them,” Alexander said. “They never miss anything, you don’t ever slip up on them, and they’re real quick reacting, but they’re smart horses. They aren’t a horse you are going to make do anything; you are going to treat them right and do your homework.”
The Alexanders sent Cowboy to friend, neighbor and fellow horseman Jimmy Williams, as a 2-year’-old to be broke out. Following the initial saddle breaking, Tony put the first barrel training on Cowboy at home. After Tony started the colt on the barrels, Cowboy was then sent off to Jeff Smith, for the “in-between times” in his training.
“Jeff rode him through the woods, because he was so skittish, and we were trying to get some of the spookiness out of him,” Terri said.
Terri is the first to say that Cowboy’s initial training was not easy.
“He was tough, I think both the guys that had him (for training) can attest to that,” she said. “He’s rambunctious and he’s into everything. Anybody that’s ever seen him would know he’s got a left nostril that is ripped pretty bad, he’s cut it twice. We’ve sewed it up each time, but he keeps tearing it back loose, so he’s got a big airway on the left side so he can run hard,” Terri joked.
Beside the recent Gold Cup win, Terri and Cowboy have won money at several other futurities this year. The duo placed in the 2D at the Clack A Drome Futurity, as well as the EBFA in Starkville, Miss., where Terri and the sorrel horse would have clocked the fastest time of the Futurity, but caught a late barrel. Terri, who also ended up ninth overall at the Speedhorse Silver Cup, was able to add $7,500 to the gelding’s win record, running the fourth fastest time of the finals.
The Gold Cup was another stellar performance for the pair. Alexander turned in the fastest time of the entire finals, both Pro and Non-Pro, with a wicked 16.230 second run, an over four tenths of a second improvement from her qualifying time.
Alexander’s love for horses started out as a young child in Georgia, where her next door neighbor put on frequent horse shows which she entered her pony in.
“I went to one of the shows, and won a ribbon,” Alexander said.·”From then on, I was addicted.”
Not having the opportunity to high school or college rodeo, Alexander didn’t get involved in the rodeo scene until her adult years.
“I went to a few futurities back in the early ’90s, but didn’t really seriously start until 1998,” Alexander said. “Of course, after my series of accidents, and my husband had some health problems . prior to that, we got sidelined a bit. The last year we’ve been before now was 2001. That’s how I got thrown back into the Non-Pro Division.”
Not liking to take more than five customer horses at a time, beside her own horses, Alexander has cut down the number of horses she takes in order to · concentrate more fully on a smaller string of colts.
“I used to take more, but I just got backed up, and I feel like I am doing a’ much better job with less horses,” Alexander said. “I entered rodeos prior to the futurities, and still try to really mix it altogether; I have been trying to concentrate on my riding again after the accident, and figuring out depth perception and different arena layouts, as well as trying to catch the colts up, so I’ve just been concentrating on the futurities.”
When not entering the big futurities that cause Alexander and her husband to travel far from Georgia, Terri prefers to stay and compete in the Southeast barrel races. Also selling Elite trailers in conjunction with training her colts, and giving riding lessons, Alexander still finds time to try and give back to the youth in her community.
“I enjoy working with kids and I hope that in some way I can influence them to stay out of trouble,” said Alexander. “Tony and I just feel like we’ve been e:lltfemely blessed to be able to do this together, and are allowed to spend so much time together doing what we love. We just feel that God had a plan for our life, and it wasn’t time to quit after that accident. It was a battle, and we decided that maybe there were more people and kids out there we could influence in a positive way.”
Alexander is quick to credit much of her success to her husband, Tony.
“I want to thank my husband for his support, because I wouldn’t be riding today if it wasn’t for him helping me throughout everything,” Alexander said. “He’s a big factor in me bejng able to go out into these arenas and be successful. He deserves a lot of credit, a lot more than words can say.”
Alexander plans to ride Cowboy’s futurity year out, continuing to enter the colt in good pens. Later on next year, Alexander plans on acclimating the sorrel horse to the rodeo arena, in hopes that he will go on to be successful like his dam and half brother.
“I’ll have two Hesa Gay Dreamer horses that I think pretty highly of to put on the trailer next year,” Alexander said.