Taylor Hildreth and 4-year-old mare Dashing French Belle took the win at the Red Rocket Futurity in Salina, Utah, from July 14-17 in impressive fashion. The pair clocked a 15.572 in the first go-round, earning a solid second-place finish and $2,439. But it was the mare’s blazing 14.927 in the second go-round that sealed her fate and secured her her first big futurity win.
“Her first run was a typical run for her,” Hildreth shared. “It was clean, pretty, and conservative. She’s a timid horse, and she’s had ground trouble a couple of times—no fault of anyone, just trying to figure out where to place her feet—so I’ve had to be careful with her. She’s been consistent, but she hadn’t had any big wins before [Red Rocket Futurity].”
While “Barbie” made a solid showing in the first go, Hildreth says she knew the talented daughter of all-time leading barrel horse sire Dash Ta Fame had more to offer.
“I told myself going into the second round that she was ready, and I needed to ask her for a little more,” Hildreth said. “She was prancing around before the run, which isn’t like her, and she felt ready to go. I think she was confident in the arena and in the ground, and I could feel her firing harder.”
When the clock stopped in the second go-round at a smoldering 14.927—besting her competitors by nearly four-tenths—Hildreth knew her hunch about the mare had been correct. The win solidified her top spot in the average, adding $5,709 in earnings between second go-round and average wins.
For Hildreth, the victory has been a long time coming on a horse that has always had the talent but has simply needed time to blossom. While she says Barbie has a good mind and isn’t easily frazzled, she emphasizes the importance of letting the horse set the pace.
“My goal is always to have a nice horse at the end of the futurity year, and I don’t get there by rushing things. I am in it for the long game, and sometimes that means I just have to be patient and let them find their stride,” Hildreth explained.
Hildreth, who trains full time out of her facility in Olathe, Colorado, started riding barrel horses when she was in elementary school. At age 11, she bought her first training horse from a sale barn, and that singular decision put her on the path to a lifetime of training horses.
“I think I’ve always had a strong desire to make horses and to learn something from it. People often ask me if I want to rodeo, and I say, ‘No,’” Hildreth said with a laugh. “I competed in rodeo in college but didn’t like it as much as I thought I would. I love the futurities. For me, it’s all about the young horses—I just love riding them and feeling the progress.”
Hildreth thanks owner Beth Laine and sponsors Excel Supplements, MVP, 3S Custom Tack (Shaun Sandoval), Zesterra, Nicki Seehafer with Horsefly Creek Veterinary Service, and Tiff Blum with Bemer.
Red Rocket Futurity Average Results
- 1D—Taylor Hildreth on Dashing French Belle, 30.499, (15.572, 14.927), $3,235
- 2D—Harlie Zehnder on Heavens Fantasia, 32.057, (16.314, 15.743), $1,386
For complete results, visit saddlebook.com.