Fresh off a 2021 West Coast Barrel Racing Association Finals win, Kristi Youngblood and Whateva Rocks You showed no sign of slowing down at the WCBRA California Cup in Salinas, California, from May 7–8. The 8-year-old buckskin mare was all business at the Salinas Sports Complex, turning in times of 16.523 and 16.422 to finish first and second in the rounds, respectively. The pair also picked up an average win with an aggregate time of 32.965.

Youngblood says she has to shift her running strategy on “Jewels” as an event progresses.

“I have a little different strategy per run, because each day she gets a little smarter and a little shorter,” Youngblood explained. “Each day I have to ride a little bit harder. She’s an overachiever—she wants to please, so I just have to ride her harder throughout the event.”

Youngblood, who rodeos and trains full time out of Spurr Ranch in Shandon, California, says that her purchase of Jewels was the result of a last-minute pit stop that she made before heading to the airport to catch a flight home.

“I went out to Texas and Oklahoma looking for barrel prospects, and it was actually the last stop,” Youngblood said. “I had already looked at 25 different prospects—seriously, I had ridden 25—and couldn’t find anything I was looking for. I found one, I made an offer on it, and they turned me down.”

Frustrated that she hadn’t yet found a horse, Youngblood reached out to her friend and professional barrel horse trainer Pete Oen in a last-ditch effort to make the trip a fruitful one.

“I called Pete and asked, ‘You got anything? I’ve got a flight to catch in about three hours,’” Youngblood said with a laugh. “And he said, ‘You know what? I think I have three you can probably ride.’”

Youngblood made the trip to Oen’s and was immediately drawn to a kind, forward-moving 2-year-old filly by Firewaterontherocks.

“She was strong even then,” Youngblood recalled. “She really wanted to move forward and stay up underneath herself. I like that feel of moving forward when you’re on a colt, not having to pedal—them wanting to move up on their own and use themselves. I had another Firewaterontherocks mare that I really liked and was successful on, so I ended up buying her.”

Jewels stayed with Oen for another six weeks before making the long trip home to California, where Youngblood continued the filly’s training and began to haul her.

“I feel like it was meant to be,” Youngblood shared. “I really wanted this other horse [I had made an offer on], and those people turned my offer down. If they would have accepted my offer, I would have been without this mare. Some things are just meant to be.”

Youngblood says she is grateful for the unfolding of events that led her to Jewel.

“She is all in,” Youngblood said. “She gives 110% every time I ask her. She’s a little hotter type of mare and she’s all business when it’s time to make her run. But when you take her back to the trailer, she’s pretty much like a dog. She wants her cookies, she loves attention and she’s easy to haul.”

Youngblood, who fell in love with horses as the quintessential little girl whose dad bought her a pony, says she inherited her passion for all things horses from her father, Ted Youngblood. She grew up competing in junior rodeo before moving to high school rodeo and then made the leap into futurities and professional training in her twenties.

She’s come a long way since those early days with her pony, but two things have remained steadfast—her love of the sport and the unwavering support from her dad.

“It takes a team to do this,” Youngblood said. “It’s a lot of work, and my dad has been there 100% by my side—my traveling partner, my pit crew, my barn guy. We share our passion for horses together. Sometimes I think he loves this even more than I do.”

Youngblood also thanks Lame Away and the family and friends that have supported her throughout her journey.


1D Average – Kristi Youngblood on Whateva Rocks You (16.523, 16.442)

2D Average – Ariane Kuhnert on AOK Ziggy Stardust (16.757, 17.212)

3D Average – Morgan Peterson on Clancy (17.531, 17.673)

4D Average – Codi Campoli on Larados Bedashzzling (17.91, 18.211)

5D Average – Shawna Miller on Colonels Que Diva (18.488, 18.483)

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