The Chalee Gilliland Memorial Barrels and Bling Barrel Race is an annual favorite for many in Indiana and surrounding states, drawing top competitors from across the region every year who come to take their shot at the cash payout and a slew of great prizes. The event, which ran from July 1–3 at C Bar C Expo Center in Cloverdale, Indiana, saw more than 2,500 entries vie for their share of the bounty, but when the lights went out Sunday, it was 12-year-old Colton Layton who rode away with the fastest time of the weekend. The Colfax, Indiana, cowboy and 2011 mare Indy Go Moon bested a field of 423 during Friday night’s Open when they turned in a 14.593—a time that clung to the top of the leaderboard throughout the weekend in spite of the onslaught of tough competitors who came after it.
Horses and barrel racing come naturally for Colton—his dad, Gary Layton, and his mom, Brandy Daggett, are both accomplished barrel racers. Gary is also a world champion flag racer. Colton’s sister, Adaya, can usually be found running the peewee class aboard the horse she has affectionately dubbed “Rainbow.” Wherever the Laytons go, a horse is never too far behind.
Colton started running his dad’s horse “Indygo” two years ago at the Chalee Gilliland Memorial when the horse he had been competing on turned up lame with an abscess.
“I didn’t really know what to do,” Colton shared. “[My parents] said, ‘You can just take Indygo.’”
Colton admits that competing on Indygo didn’t come easily at first. She was fast, powerful and good at bouncing him out of the saddle when she fired out of her turns. Initially, it was also tough for Colton to keep the barrels up.
“I trotted her through some barrels in exhibitions and then tried the Open on Friday night. I hit two barrels,” Colton said with a laugh. “Then I hit all three barrels [Saturday] in the Young Guns.”
Not one to be easily discouraged, Colton came back with a vengeance the following year, winning the 1D in a tough Young Guns class and taking home the trophy saddle. Still, he says he felt he wasn’t doing the best job keeping up with Indygo, and Brandy pulled the plug on competing on her altogether after Colton had several falls during his runs. But if Colton is anything, he is determined.
“He’s had to work awfully hard,” Gary said. “He’s spent a bunch of time riding bareback and working on sitting better so he can stay with Indygo.”
The hard work and long bareback miles have paid off, and the evidence could be seen during Friday night’s applause-inspiring run. In addition to spending lots of time riding, Colton relies on a simple motto as the foundation for his barrel racing success.
“Have horses that are willing to do it,” Colton said. “And then don’t overdo it.”
Chalee Gilliland Memorial Barrels and Bling Open Divisional Winners
- 1D—Colton Layton, Indy Go Moon, 14.593
- 2D—Regan Henning, Flitting To Georgia, 15.115
- 3D—Nancy Frazier, Oso Fine Bulzeye, 15.604
- 4D—Tayler Smith, Stickumupred, 16.596
- 1D—Baily Belcher, Pocket Coin Five, 14.903
- 2D—Ron Sullivan, BB Color Me Special, 15.405
- 3D—Judy Bortner, Rare Irish, 15.907
- 4D—Jayne Ann Moriarty, Ima Mga Scotcha, 16.403
- 1D—Cindy Patrick, Flit Ta Heaven, 14.874
- 2D—Debby Elliot, Horse, 15.374
- 3D—Billy Hatzman, Nonstop Cat, 15.878
- 4D—Allie Ramage, Bella, 16.912
For complete results, visit sgpevents.net.