When you hear Ashley Day talk about her win at the Gridiron Futurity aboard 5-year-old stallion ArmedNFamous, one word comes to mind—heritage. Ashley lives on the very ranch where she was raised in Volborg, Montana, and spends most days working alongside multiple generations on her family’s land. She has been barrel racing since she was 5 years old, competing on horses that were also bred and raised on her family’s homestead in Volborg. “King” was born on that same ranch—a cross between all-time leading barrel horse sire Dash Ta Fame and Ashley’s rodeo mare, Queen of Bullets.

King was one of those colts people dream of. Although Ashley was hoping for a filly, she knew from the very beginning that the brown stud colt had a bright future in store. 

“He has always had a presence around him,” Ashley shared. “He just did every single thing we ever asked him to do willingly, and he did it from a very young age.”

King was started under saddle by Ashley’s husband, Radley Day, and then patterned on the barrels by Ashley.

“When I started him on the barrels, he took to it naturally,” Ashley said. “He wanted to turn, and he was really easy to train. When it came to getting him on the clock, that was the only other piece—it was the only other thing I needed him to do, and he clocked well, even when he was making bobbles.”

Ashley says her futurity horses get a later start than many due to the weather and logistical challenges of seasoning a colt in Montana, so King didn’t make his debut until his 5-year-old year. Even with some solid runs under his belt, Ashley didn’t have high expectations going into the event. The Gridiron Futurity, which ran from June 9–12 at Seven Down Arena in Spearfish, South Dakota, was King’s first big win.

“You always want to win, but I didn’t go to Gridiron expecting to. I know he’s talented enough to win, but my futurity colts usually come on a little later. He’s been at the breeding barn, and I actually got him three days before the event. I was like, ‘It’ll be what it’ll be,’” Ashley said with a laugh.

The laidback approach worked for Ashley and King, who turned in a 14.017 in the first go-round and a 13.944 in the second go-round to place first and second, respectively, in both the Open and Breeders Futurities. The duo also swept the average wins in both futurities and left the weekend with $6,845 in earnings.

Ashley says King really applied himself during her time in Spearfish. 

“I felt him take initiative for the first time,” Ashley shared. “It’s a smaller pen, so my goal for both runs was to get him far enough into his turns that he could come back around them and stay clean. I honestly felt a little under-prepared. He had every excuse not to do his job, but he showed up and worked. He really stepped up.”

Ashley plans to finish the futurity year and then look toward a potential career in rodeo for the talented gelding, who also competes in team and breakaway roping with Radley. 

“I will definitely try to rodeo on him,” Ashley said. “I’ll go wherever he tells me he wants to be a great horse.”

In addition to a career in rodeo, Ashley hopes to continue the lineage that has carried her to success across the span of decades by breeding King and training his progeny.

She thanks her husband for training and shoeing King, her family for their ongoing support, and the Hanson family for producing a great event.

Gridiron Open Futurity Average Winners

  • 1D—Ashley Day on ArmedNFamous, 27.961 (14.017, 13.944), $1,249
  • 2D—Jodie O’Bryan on Sansugars Lord, 29.992, (15.162,14.83) $557

Gridiron Breeders Futurity Average Winners

  • 1D—Ashley Day on ArmedN Famous, 27.961, (14.017, 13.944), $1,372
  • 2D—Jodie O’Bryan on Sansugars Lord, 29.992, $613

For complete results, visit gridironfuturity.com.

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