ALVA, Okla. â€“ When Lauren Barnes arrived in Weatherford, Okla., last weekend for the Southwestern Oklahoma State University rodeo, she was intent on winning the womenâ€™s all-around title.
â€śI think I really had a chance, but the draw didnâ€™t help me very much,â€ť said Barnes, a junior at Northwestern Oklahoma State University from Buckeye, Ariz.; she finished No. 2 in the all-around race. â€śIn breakaway roping, I donâ€™t know if Iâ€™ve ever had a calf that ran that fast (in the championship round). That made it difficult to do anything in breakaway.
Barnes finished seventh in breakaway roping and fourth in goat tying. That helped her to 135 points, which moved her to the runner-up position in the all-around, just behind Oklahoma Panhandle State Universityâ€™s Randi Buchanan.
More importantly, she helped the Northwestern womenâ€™s team to a third-place finish in Weatherford. She joined Micah Samples of Abilene, Kan., to secure 195 team points â€“ Samples finished fifth in breakaway roping. Northwestern sits second in the season standings with just two rodeos remaining on the 2013-14 schedule: this coming weekend in Hays, Kan., then the final weekend in Guymon, Okla.
â€śThis region is really tough,â€ť Barnes said. â€śYou have to have your game face on every weekend. My plan was to win the all-around this weekend. I was just happy, because our team needed some points.â€ť
Barnes needs points, too. She is off the pace to qualify for the College National Finals Rodeo in June.
â€śIt was very important for me to do well,â€ť she said. â€śI had some tough luck in Durant (the weekend before); I drew a calf that ran left, and my goat didnâ€™t cooperate very well either. I knew I needed some points, so I was kind of angry at myself. At Weatherford, I went out there and did what I wanted to do.
â€śThese next two rodeos, I plan on getting some points. Iâ€™ve got some ground to make up, but Iâ€™m going work on it.â€ť
While the Rangers women sit comfortably in second place in the Central Plains Region â€“ only the top two teams advance to the college finals â€“ there is a sense of urgency in the final two weeks of the regular season.
â€śI think we need all of our girls on the team to get points this week, for sure, and Iâ€™d like to see it the week after that,â€ť Barnes said. â€śI think the girls can do it. They have a lot of heart and determination to get it done. They want it bad.
â€śI have faith in every single girl thatâ€™s on that team. They have the try, and they definitely have the talent.â€ť
The Northwestern men had three cowboys qualify for the final round in Weatherford: steer wrestlers Stephen Culling (third) of Fort St. John, British Columbia, and Brock White (fourth) of Earlville, Iowa; and tie-down roper Trey Young (seventh) of Dupree, S.D. The menâ€™s team is fourth in the region and needs to make up ground over the final two weekends.
Thatâ€™s something coach Stockton Graves has been working on all season with both teams.
â€śWhat I really like about having Stockton as a coach is that heâ€™s been there and done that,â€ť she said, noting that Graves is a seven-time steer wrestling qualifier to the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo. â€śHe knows how we need to practice to get it done. He knows how to put us in those situations where you have pressure on you so you can perform when you get to the rodeos.â€ť
CHAMPIONS SELECT TO OFFER USER-FRIENDLY PERFORMANCE HORSES FROM RODEO’S ELITE
Paul Tierney knows what it means to have a high quality performance horse.
In his lifetime, Tierney has utilized great horses on the ranch and at rodeos all across this land. You see, heâ€™s a two-time world champion from Oral, S.D., having earned the tie-down roping title in 1979 and the coveted all-around gold buckle a season later. In 2008, he was inducted into the ProRodeo Hall of Fame.
But his admiration for performance horses runs even deeper, and he sees the need for many others who can benefit from the powerful equines. Thatâ€™s why he is working with Nate Morrison of The Breeders Connection to produce the Champions Select Performance Horse Sale, set for Monday, May 12, on www.TheBreedersConnection.com. The preview will begin Monday, May 5, on the website.
â€śI believe there are a lot of people out there who have never been exposed to a better horse,â€ť said Tierney, whose sons, Jess and Paul David, are among the elite cowboys on the rodeo trail today. â€śYouâ€™re going to be able to subject yourself to possibly buying this horse. Somebody from California who wants to rope calves but has never been exposed to my horses will now have that exposure.â€ť
Tierney is just one of several legendary horsemen who are part of this sale, joining several elite cowboys from the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association, including world champions like Clay Oâ€™Brien Cooper, Jake Barnes, Rope Meyers and Jhett Johnson. They will be joined by National Finals Rodeo qualifiers Beau Franzen, Bill Parker, Kyle Lockett and Cody Cowden, as well as Jess Tierney, a three-time qualifier to the National Finals Steer Roping.
Cooper and Barnes were the marquee tandem in team roping for many years, earning seven world championships in the 1980s-90s. Cooper, a heeler, has qualified for the NFR 27 times, while his longtime partner, Barnes, has 25 appearances on ProRodeoâ€™s biggest stage.
Meyers qualified for the NFR seven times and earned the gold buckle in 2001; he followed in the footsteps of his world champion father, Butch, who won steer wrestling gold in 1980. Johnson, a heeler, won the world title in 2011 during his fifth NFR qualification.
Parker qualified for the finals in both tie-down roping and team roping, while Cowden and Lockett were finalists in team roping. Franzen is a two-time NFR qualifier in steer wrestling.
â€śI think itâ€™s a great opportunity with the marketing tools that Nate has for us to be able to expose ourselves to the whole gamut of people who are looking for horses,â€ť Tierney said. â€śTheyâ€™re looking for a good calf horse or any type of rodeo horses.
â€śNate has established his website as a great marketplace. I think itâ€™s very advantageous to anybody in the horse business that needs to expose their horses to the market. Weâ€™re not just exposing our horses to the people who are reading the magazines, but from all over with the internet. Weâ€™re able to have more exposure, which helps you open up to a bigger audience.â€ť
What will potential buyers see when they log on? They will see horses that have been trained and developed by the professionals who know what it takes to compete on these amazing animals.
â€śWhen youâ€™ve done this for as long as Jake, Clay and myself, we know the aspects of the horses we have,â€ť Tierney said. â€śWe know what that horse has to do. What we want these horses to do most is have a connection with anybody.â€ť
Training an animal to be able to perform like that is easier said than done, but thatâ€™s what makes the Champions Select horses special.
â€śWe really believe weâ€™re going to have the kind of horse on the video that anybody will be able to ride and use,â€ť he said. â€śThis isnâ€™t just the high performers who are looking at these horses, but weâ€™re going to say that a person of less ability will be able to ride these horses because thereâ€™s a great amount of control that the horse has in him.â€ť