By Kailey Sullins, BHN Managing Editor

As promised, I’m going to show you the good and the bad parts of training a 2-year-old, but in order to do that I need to backtrack just a little bit so that you can all take this journey with me properly.

I purchased “Kitty” in July and for the most part started from the ground up. She was broke and had been ridden when I purchased her, but she only had about 10 – 15 rides on her, so we still had a lot of learning to do. Thankfully, the previous owners did a wonderful job getting her started, giving her a great foundation and teaching her the little things like how to stand tied solid, how to pick up her feet and the sort. She even took the haul from Oklahoma to Texas like a true champion.

But, there’s always those little things that you take for granted after you’ve had a seasoned horse for a long time. For instance, when we made the trip home that first day it was pretty late in the evening and I made it to my Texas home around 10 pm. She had to then unload in the dark (she’d only been hauled a few times). I knew this wasn’t going to be as easy as unloading my finished horse, but I really didn’t think much past that.

When she took her first step out of the trailer with her hind leg she was apprehensive to say the least. It took about a full minute for her to actually set her foot on the ground from the wavering place in mid-air where it hung. Ever so gently she set her foot on the ground only to come hurling forward back into the trailer and almost on top of me from fear of the scary footing underneath her – Earth.

ShinersSmartycatShiners Smartycat after a well deserved bath.

‘OK, let’s try this again.’

Round two she was even more apprehensive about setting her foot down. It hung in mid-air for what seemed like minutes until once again she jumped back into the trailer, but this time I was ready and wasn’t almost knocked down. We sat there for a few minutes in deep discussion, me assuring her that everything was OK and nothing was going to hurt her outside. She’d taken a few deep sighs and relaxed and I thought ‘OK, she’s got it now.’

Round three. I smooched to her followed by a soft tug backwards on the halter. She took one step, then two and stopped. Back feet firmly planted at the edge of the trailer floor.

“Nope, sorry lady there is no way I’m stepping foot outside of this trailer.”

I kept trying to boost her confidence with pats of encouragement as she took steps backwards until she was balled up at the end of the trailer. Back feet still firmly planted on the edge and her front feet now directly in front of her back feet. There was no budging her. She was camped out for the long haul. I’m not actually sure how she stayed balanced like that.

Finally after oh about 20 minutes she clumsily half stepped and half fell out of the trailer only to realize “Oh, I have seen this thing called ground before. Everything’s fine now, I wasn’t scared.”

It took about five trips in and out of the trailer before she really got it figured out and backs out with ease in the day or at night now, but that first night I thought for sure I was going to have to spend the night in the trailer with her.

Until next time,


 In case you missed it, get to know Kitty and how we began our journey together here:


About Kailey KaileySullinsKailey Sullins. Photo by Blanche Schaefer

Kailey Sullins is the managing editor of Barrel Horse News. She joined the BHN team in 2014 and has enjoyed being apart of a team dedicated to not only the barrel racing industry, but the equine industry as a whole.

Kailey grew up in rural Oklahoma where her family owns and operates a cow-calf operation in the small town of Red Rock. Rodeo was a family affair around her place and as such her love of horses began at an early age. Growing up Kailey competed in junior, high school, college and amateur rodeo competing in barrel racing, pole bending, team roping and breakaway roping. After graduating from Oklahoma State University with a bachelor’s degree in agricultural communications with a double major in animal science, Kailey began pursuing her career in journalism.

Currently, Kailey lives in Texas with her 14-year-old mare, 2-year-old filly and a 2-year-old black-tri Australian Shepherd named Macy. When Kailey’s not on assignment for BHN or working in the Fort Worth office she can be found training her filly, spending time with Macy or competing in breakaway roping with her mare in professional and amateur rodeos in Texas.



“What Do We Do Now?” is a blog series written by BHN‘s associate editor Savannah Magoteaux, managing editor Kailey Sullins and associate editor Blanche Schaefer, where they discuss the struggles, joys, and rewards of training young barrel prospects as amateurs juggling full-time jobs, all from a real-life perspective. Read more at under the “Blogs” tab.


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