Jill Atkinson topped the leaderboard at the Southwest Desert Classic Bust ‘Em Out Futurity from November 18–20 at Blackhawk Arena in Salina, Utah, aboard 2018 mare Snaps First Flash. Atkinson and “Snaps” made a clean sweep in the Futurity, turning in a consistent 15.976 and 15.906, respectively, to clinch the average with a 31.822. All totaled, Atkinson took home $2,198 aboard the 4-year-old daughter of First Moonflash.
Snaps, who is owned by Atkinson’s friend Mark Butler of B Spurn Ranch in Payson, Utah, joined Atkinson’s program two years ago as a 2-year-old. Atkinson says in spite of her young age, Snaps has always been a mature, business-minded mare.
“She’s been easy to train from the beginning,” Atkinson said. “I rode her mother [Dash Ta Fame daughter TS Snapn Ta Fame], and Snaps reminds me a lot of her. She’s confident, and even though she can be a little silly warming up, she gets down to business when it’s time to run barrels.”
Atkinson, whose father introduced her to barrel racing during childhood, says she prefers to let a horse come along on its own timeframe without adding too much pressure to clock early in the training process.
“I try to let them run at their own pace,” Atkinson explained. “I’ll ask for a little more when I feel like their turns are going to hold together, but I’m not in a hurry. I pay attention to what the horse is telling me. I don’t ever want to overdo it, because I want these horses to hold up not only for the season but also for their entire careers.”
Atkinson, who is traveling with Snaps to Arizona for the winter futurities, says she will hold fast to her plan in spite of the tough competition Snaps will face in Arizona.
“I really look at this as an opportunity to season and build confidence — she doesn’t necessarily have to go win,” Atkinson said. “I’ll let Snaps make her runs and judge what she feels comfortable with. My job is to help her come into herself and build her confidence so she can go on and be successful for many years.”
Atkinson thanks Mark Butler and the Butler Family, her family and the event producers.
Southwest Desert Classic Bust ‘Em Out Futurity Average Results
1D — Jill Atkinson, Snaps First Flash, 31.882 (15.976, 15.906)
2D — Shianne Winn, Miss America, 34.221, (16.898, 17.323)