Ann Thompson pictured here with clients Kelly Kaminski, Kassie Mowry and June Holeman. Photo by Kenneth Springer

Ann (Bateson) Thompson works behind the scenes, organizing the competitive itineraries of some of the top names in professional barrel racing. Thompson is a barrel racer’s best friend. The three-time Wrangler National Finals Rodeo qualifier resides in Nash, Texas, a suburb of Texarkana, and makes a living entering some of the biggest names in professional barrel racing in rodeos across the country. Her clients include Mary Burger, June Holeman, Kelly Kaminski and Kassie Mowry.

BHN recently asked Thompson about her experiences in and out of the arena and her advice for entering rodeos. Read on for her insightful answers.

Q – How did you become involved in this type of work?

A – In 1999 and 2000, SherryLynn Johnson qualified for the NFR, and she and her parents are like family to me. We’d talked about her plans to try and make the NFR, and I started to take care of her entries. From that point, my business has developed by word of mouth.

I’d never met Kelly Kaminski before she became interested in me handling her entries. Kelly was a friend of Cindy Woods from Oregon, so I began entering her. This keeps me involved in the rodeo world, and I feel as though I’m giving back to
the sport in a way.

I want everyone to make the NFR. Not everyone’s goal is to do that, because some people can’t stay on the road the majority of the time, so to make their circuit finals is a very good goal.

Last year, three of my riders were in the top 15 (Kaminski, June Holeman and Kassie Mowry), and Maegan Reichert was the runner-up rookie of the year. It was great to watch them at the NFR. Kelly and Mary Burger already appear to have the finals made for 2006, and several more of my clients should be there. We just have to hope for the best.

Q Do you take care of all the turnouts, trades and other related business that
goes along with the initial entry?

A – Yes, and I try not to run into that. When there’s a conflict and a trade is needed, I call Procom and get the lists of entries for other performances. At that point, we’d likely team up to call and find a trade. When someone has to vet or doctor release, I call Procom and take care of that, and let the barrel racer know when she needs to have her form turned in to the WPRA office. I handle the entries for several girls, whether they’re going all the time or on a limited basis.

Q – What’s the advantage of barrel racers not handling their own entries?

A – lt takes a load off them. They leave the entering up to me, so they can concentrate on the rodeos and not have to worry about entry closings, time change or mileage. I take care of the miles and how many hours it is from one rodeo to another. I keep a record of the number of entries, draw position and time that the rodeo starts. They just show up. Most everything is left up to me. We talk all the time, and work together to determine which arenas and ground are best for them and their horses.

Q – How long have you been involved in rodeo?

A – I qualified for the NFR three years (1977-79), when the finals were held in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. I finished seventh, eighth and l0th in the world those years. Those were the years I was able to rodeo the most. I’d always just gone to the amateur rodeo and had a full-time job. I had a really nice mare named Min Patty who placed well at a lot of the major rodeos, such as Cheyenne (Wyoming), Houston (Texas), Fort Smith (Arkansas), Oklahoma City (Oklahoma) and Odessa (Texas), to name a few. My mare was very consistent with a lot of heart.

My experience helps me with my entering, as I’ve been to most of the arenas. I think that mastering the entry process comes through experience. Plus, I’ve had people tell rile that they think I have a photographic memory, and I think that’s a gift.

Q – What type of system do you use to stay organized and keep track of rodeo dates and travel details for all your clients?

A – I have a master calendar I use, and I lay out all the performances and slacks for all the rodeos. Then I have a calendar for each girl. I enter each girl according to her goals, what my past experience tells me will work the best, and the arenas that her horses do the best in. Each person and I form a team.

Q – What’s the most challenging aspect of your career, and what are the toughest
experiences you’ve had?
A – The  most challenging week I’ve had in my life was when the entries were open for Colorado Springs (Colorado), Casper (Wyoming), Sheridan (Wyoming), Laramie (Wyoming), Estes Park (Colorado), Vernal (Utah) and all those mid-July rodeos where the dates could so easily conflict. The Fourth of July is always a challenge. I can’t afford any mistakes. I keep careful track of deadlines and make my game plan in advance. I know how they’re going to run a lot of these rodeos by heart now.

Of course, there are surprises along the way, but for the most part I know which ones will have multiple rounds and which will be back-to-back or flips. If you aren’t familiar with flips, back-to-back runs and the middle, you can really foul yourself up. I keep the WPRA News and Pro Rodeo Sports News close at all times. And, I’ll be honest with you, I don’t have many trades. But I work at it every day.

Q – What advice do you have for someone new to the Procom system?

A Be very, very careful. Get someone to help you who has been there and is familiar with a lot of the terms

Q – Do you still get a chance to ride and run barrels?

A – Less than I used to. I ran some last year, I had a really nice Dash For Perks mare that I sold, and I had an older horse named Harlan Joe Scoot (“Snickers”) that Kristen Woods, Cindy Woods’ daughter, is running now. I sold him to them last fall. I’m not going jump on something that’s 4 or 5 years old that’s not seasoned too much and run a lot of barrels. (For more on Snickers and Kristen,
“Fun in the Sun” in the April 2006 BHN.)

Q – What’s a common misconception about entering pro rodeos?

A – A lot of people look at the added money and forget to consider such things as the mileage, the miles on their horses, the number of rounds and how the money is split up. What I like to say is that just because they’re having the rodeo doesn’t mean you have to be there. I say that because I think putting too many miles on you and your horse is an important consideration. For instance, people might underestimate a $3,000-added, one-head rodeo in favor of driving farther to go to something larger. But say that rodeo gets 70 or 80 entries, it’s going to pay very well, and you make one run on your horse and don’t drive as far. Every situation is different, and some people have multiple horses to ride, but many don’t.


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