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Junior Division News


No Surprise: Hunter and Fuzz are Winners Again
by Jolee Lautaret
8/24/11

Caldwell, Idaho-The only one truly surprised on Saturday night, August 20 in the Caldwell Night Rodeo Arena was Nancy Hunter.

The reigning champions of the barrel racing from the 2010 CNR, Hunter and her great horse Flit N Fizz made the trip to a second consecutive CNR short go round matched against some of the toughest horses of the WPRA including six 2010 Wrangler NFR qualifiers, two 2009 Wrangler NFR qualifiers and 2006 WPRA World Champion Mary Burger.

According to Hunter, the pack brought the heat in the short go.

"The girls were getting after it," says the Neola, Utah cowgirl who ran near the bottom of the ground at ninth position. "They were stomping our heads."

Hunter almost never earned a single CNR championship aboard Fuzz, as he is affectionately known around the barn. In 2008, Fuzz had trouble negotiating Caldwell's corner gate, scattering the bull riders by Hunter's description. Only at the urging of her husband - and trainer - Fred did Hunter agree to ride the son of Dr Nick Bar at Caldwell in 2010.

"That get in is hard for everyone but especially for me," she says. "At least we didn't scare the bull riders this year. But we didn't walk across the pen; I think I was the only one who ran from the gate!"

The start proved a little tough for the reigning champions during the first go round in slack on Tuesday morning.

"I ran from too far back and we were too straight into the first turn," Hunter says. She finished 12th in the round. Wrangler NFR qualifier Brenda Mays and the 2010 AQHA/WPRA Horse of the Year Jethro won the round with their time of 17.45 seconds.

As she often does, Hunter leaned on her husband of 35 years for adjustments. He told her to aim for the second barrel through the gate and, once clear of the gate, to come back to the first.

It worked well for the second round run which produced her first 2011 CNR check, fourth in the round with a time of 17.41 seconds. Trula Churchill posted the rodeo's fastest time of 17.29 in the second round for the win; Churchill definitely needed the win, the Nebraska cowgirl is ranked 18th in the world standings, less than $2,000 out of 15th.

In the short go round, Hunter did something she never does.

"Fuzz wasn't running home. Kim Schulze's husband told me to whip him. I told him the last time I did that, he bucked me off! Kim said she wouldn't whip him either."

Calling him "a lot of drama," Hunter says Fuzz has quit bucking for the most part now days. "But if his tail is twitching, I will sure lope him some more!"

Hunter opted for a pair of spurs in the second go round at Caldwell but after Fuzz made adjustments at the first two barrels during the short round, she needed a little more go for the run home. She used the over-and-under.

"I told Fred I would probably clear the gate if I hit him. He said, 'you've got to be famous for something,'" she laughs. "He caught about five gears running home. We tested the gate but we got stopped. I am not sure I would ever do that again!"

Hunter stopped the clock at 17.38, her fastest run of the rodeo and good enough for second in the short round behind the red-hot Jeanne Anderson who equaled Churchill's second go time of 17.29.

When the tallies were made, Hunter rose to the top of the average heap with a 52.56 on three runs, just .06 seconds ahead of Anderson.

"I am really surprised," says Hunter, the 2008 Wilderness Circuit Champion. "I'm still so excited. As always, Fred fixed me after the first run. And we got lucky."

Better to be lucky AND good. Hunter collected $5,128 for the win, pushing her two year total to $11,732 at Caldwell. Hunter moved to second in the current circuit standings, an excruciating $11.35 behind Sammi Bessert who earned a round check at Caldwell but failed to make the short round.

Hunter would love to close out Fuzz's 2011 with another Wilderness Circuit title and trip to the Ram National Circuit Finals Rodeo. She is planning on entering the remaining circuit rodeos along with Albuquerque.

Hunter is ready for Fuzz to slow down his rodeo career, saying she is only planning on running the 11-year-old gelding at a few rodeos next year while she turns to 6-year-old Cash Register, who recently won his first pro check at Coalville, and another young horse.

"He's been good for me. He's not a patient horse but he taught me to be a better rider," she says. Fuzz will eventually end up in the hands of Hunter's 4-year-old granddaughter, Haley. Meanwhile, Hunter is looking forward to riding the young horses. "It's challenging and fun. They are all different but have a similar ride because of Fred's training."

"We're moving from this adventurous life to another one," she laughs.

The 2011 CNR paid out nearly a quarter of a million dollars, making it one of the most profitable rodeos on the schedule for pro rodeo contestants. For more information on the Caldwell Night Rodeo, visit them on-line at www.caldwellnightrodeo.com.




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