By Caroline Van Pelt, age 15, published in September 2011 BHN 

During her childhood, Vicki and her family moved to an equine friendly Texas neighborhood that developed from a local veterinarian’s idea for a horse community. It was horse heaven, with riding space galore and fairgrounds with an arena to work barrels only a short horseback ride away.

While most of the neighbors had horses, Vicki’s family did not. Vicki was like many others—young and horse crazy, continually asking for a horse for her birthday and Christmas. When Vicki was 11, one of her father’s friends learned about Vicki’s love for horses, invited her to ride with him and taught her the basics. She rode several different horses until she found a good fit. On Christmas eve, the friend called Vicki’s father and said that the next morning “Pal” would be tied outside as a present for Vicki. From there, Vicki’s horse dreams and barrel racing ambitions grew.

The second year that Martha and R.E. Josey started teaching kids, Vicki attended one of their clinics. The Joseys became like a second set of parents to Vicki. While Vicki was visiting with the Joseys at the Houston Rodeo one year, Martha and R.E. introduced her to her future husband, Dan. Eventually, the couple moved to Marshall, Texas, to work with the Joseys. After 13 years with the Josey Ranch, Dan and Vicki began teaching clinics on their own, following R.E.’s advice that word-of-mouth is the best advertising.

On the weekend of May 6-8, 2011, Vicki and Dan traveled to Dillsburg, Pa., to teach 23 barrel racers and their horses. I watched the Rienhardts work with several students during the individual training sessions on Saturday afternoon and caught up with Vicki for a chat between clinic activities.


Q: What advice would you give to youth barrel racers and their parents?

A: Fit a horse to your child’s ability. Don’t over-mount a child when they’re not ready for it, and don’t keep them on one that is too slow for too long.

It’s a process. You have stages where you may keep a horse six months, and then the child progresses past that horse’s ability, and then you need to be ready to find another one. There’s always someone looking for that horse you’ve got if it’s a good kid’s horse. Kid’s horses are very saleable.

A good, good, good horse that can go win in the 1D wherever you go is easier to find than that solid, good, well-patterned, safe, safe, safe horse for a kid to start on. Sometimes, you’re blessed to find that one horse that fits everything, and then, sometimes, you’ve got to go through two or three horses [or even] five or six horses.


Q: If a student had a young barrel horse in training and a finished barrel horse, which one would you advise that they bring to your clinic?

A: Bring the young horse because a young horse really relies on the rider. You have to pay attention a lot to what you’re doing—where your hands are, where you’re positioning them, where you’re directing them, everything. Then, when you get back on the finished horse, you’ve been working on your basics as much as you’ve been putting the basics in that colt.


Q: What do you want every student to take away from your clinic?

A: To have fun. The whole reason we start running barrels is because we love horses, and we like going fast. If there’s no fun in it, we’re doing it for the wrong reasons.” 


You can find more information about the Rienhardts and their ranch, Miracle 15, Inc., at This article was originally published in Youth Forum in the September 2011 issue of Barrel Horse News. Email comments on this article to [email protected].


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