Barrel racers started off the National Barrel Horse Association tour season with the NBHA Arizona Super Show in sunny Buckeye from January 18–21.

Article by Blanche Schaefer | Photos by Lexi Smith Media

The NBHA brought a total payout of $67,845 to Buckeye for the Arizona Super Show from January 18–21. With $10,000 in added money and 111 Wild Cards for the NBHA World Championship show up for grabs, in addition to Circle Y Saddle certificates for Open average winners and tons of awards, barrel racers had plenty to run for at the Buckeye Equestrian Center.

NBHA Open 1D Average Champion Kailee Murdock and MP Hay Its Hotn Here

Kailee Murdock received a pleasant surprise with the NBHA Open 1D average championship, posting the fastest time among NBHA members and finishing third in the overall Open 1D average (including non-members) on her 11-year-old mare MP Hay Its Hotn Here.

“It was a bit of a shock,” Murdock explained. “The two gals in front of me didn’t pay their NBHA memberships, so they were announcing that I won it, and I was like, ‘But I’m third!’ I wasn’t going to turn it down; my little horse just ran tough all weekend.”

Murdock and “Nala” ran a 17.639 in Friday’s Open for sixth and $294. On Saturday, their fast 17.250 finished eighth for $323 behind Doskie Edwards’ and “Bailey’s” blistering 16.871 on a standard pattern. Sunday saw Murdock’s main rodeo horse Little Dashn Nick win the Open with a 16.956 for $1,150, placing Nala’s 17.465 in the perfect position to win the 2D and $702.

Their average of 52.354 earned the NBHA Open 1D average championship saddle.

“Friday night I thought she was running pretty tough, and I knew I could get a 17.5 out of her. I ran four horses all weekend, and I only had a run between my runs because I didn’t pre-enter. I won all my money back on Friday, so Saturday and Sunday were ‘YOLO’ days,” Murdock said with a laugh. “Saturday, that little horse just worked her butt off and clocked a 17.250. She ran to the fence at the first a little, but we got to two and she spun around it and got around three by a hair. She was cooking. On Sunday, I laid down a run on Little Dashn Nick, so she won the 2D, but it wasn’t for lack of effort — he ran the perfect time for her, and she was still the sixth-fastest horse out of 200-something runners.”

While Murdock knows how special Nala is, the little mare sometimes takes a backseat to “Sherlock” due to the success Murdock has had on the big sorrel gelding at the rodeos with more than $61,000 in EquiStat reported earnings.

Nala, whom Murdock got from National Finals Rodeo barrel racer Jana Bean, has won more than $18,000 in EquiStat reported earnings. The Litchfield Park, Arizona, barrel racer says the gritty mare has a presence that’s larger than life.

“She’s definitely a whole personality. She’s held her own, but it’s been shadowed by Sherlock’s success because he’s my main rodeo horse. This win has been a long time coming,” Murdock said. “She’s so much shorter than Sherlock, and she gets lost at the trailer because you can’t see her between all my big horses. That doesn’t mean she’s low man on the totem pole — she definitely dominates everything that she does. She runs like a big horse. If you get behind, she will leave your butt in the dirt and not feel bad about it for even a second. She has a huge stride and makes it so effortless. She’s a smoking fast horse.”

Nala’s independent, ‘my way or the high way’ attitude has also made her a jam-up youth horse for some of the young girls Murdock teaches and mentors.

“That mare likes to work her way. You can tune her, but then she’s going to run how she wants to run, and you either fall in line or you don’t, which has honestly made her a great youth horse,” Murdock explained. “I’ve stuck youth girls on her, and she’s placed reserve at the Sherry Cervi Youth Championships on jump rides. She likes it when you just hang on. She’s a great addition to my team.”

Murdock thanked her farrier Kyle Deaver for keeping her horses sound as well as her idol Jana Bean and team of sponsors: Optiwize, Cactus Rose Boutique, Re-Vita + CBD, Sport Innovations, Sport Horse Chiropractic, Circle M Custom Hides, Finishline Horse Products and CSI Saddle Pads.

Open 1D Average Champion Karsen Jackson and Frenchmansmagicmike

Frenchmansmagicmike strutted his stuff in Buckeye. Though not eligible for NBHA awards due to membership requirements, jockey Karsen Jackson and the 10-year-old stallion still laid down the fastest average time of the show for owner Tonya Wiertzema.

“He’s pretty magical, so any time he runs we’re like, ‘Let’s see the magic!’” Jackson quipped. “It was pretty special. Before I started riding him, a girl in Wickenburg (Arizona) had him and did pretty good on him, so for me to take over on him, I just really wanted to make her proud and his owners proud. I’ve known Tonya since 2021 and rode for her on and off, so it’s really special to be up there with some of the best on that horse.”

In the first race Friday, Jackson and “Magic” posted a 17.471 on the big standard pattern to finish third for $552. A 17.188 placed fifth in a fast Saturday race for $613. Consistency paid for the team Sunday with a 17.405, worth $718 and the fastest average on three of the race, 52.064.

“I haven’t ran him on a true standard yet, so my first run I really wanted to be a 17.5. I was off him for two weeks when I was in Texas for the rodeos, and when he ran the 17.4, I was pretty excited. And, we finally nailed the first barrel,” Jackson said. “The second day when he ran the 17.1, I was so stoked. I think that’s his fastest time on a standard, and it’s one of my fastest times on a standard too. I knew when he turned the first barrel he was on one. On Sunday, I knew we just had to get around them to get in the average.”

The Cornville, Arizona-based barrel horse trainer plans to keep Magic in her program for the big barrel races and professional rodeos and to showcase the stallion for his owners.

“I want to pro rodeo, so we’ll show him all the ins and outs of rodeo too,” Jackson said. “I train, start and finish barrel horses, and just jockey. I’m not much of a futurity rider, I’ve never futuritied, but I love jockeying and starting horses and running.”

Jackson added special thanks to her mom and dad as well as Magic’s owners.


Blanche Schaefer is an avid barrel racer and managing editor of Barrel Horse News. Email comments or questions to [email protected]

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