By Amy Wilson
It keeps getting faster, and this time it was Nancy Hunter and Flit N Fizz "Fuzz" who clocked a 13.62 to win Round 5 of the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo.
The impressive run came after Hunter made some changes recommended by her husband, "Well Fred and I reviewed the tapes, and I have to admit the Thomas and Mack is not like [Rodeo]Houston for Fuzz. It's a different set up. Fuzz isn't very courageous running back in that alleyway and was struggling a little bit on the ground. So Fred said, ‘You need to ride him more on the left side, not so straight to that first barrel where he has to stop so hard. Just sit quiet on him through the alleyway." Fred's advice was to not hustle Fuzz as much to be able to get a good first barrel. Hunter admits that Fred's solution for helping her 15 year old gelding worked, but it wasn't easy for her to do, "He took off and it was hard - sometimes I bump him with that inside leg and then he'll pick up a gear and that's what I've been doing. I had to tell myself ‘Fred will probably break my leg if he sees me kick him'. So I sat real quiet on him." Hunter said showing her sense of humor.
PHOTO BY: Greg Westfall
The two-time Wrangler NFR qualifier is always quick to credit Fred for being everything from her horse trainer to her farrier, "Without Fred, I wouldn't even be here. He helps me with everything. When I listen to him, things always work out best." She also said, "I think he was given a God-given talent. He does a great job. I don't want to be a trainer, I just want to get on and ride them. It really works good - we work as a team and enjoy being together." Hunter went on to say, "I just have a great family. All four of my boys are here. My grandkids are here. And that's really what it's all about."
Another change is coming for Hunter as she will be riding a different horse for the next two rounds. She explained, "I'll be 15th and 13th out on the ground, and it does make a difference - that happens anywhere. Plus you have to stand in that alleyway a long time which just kind of washes Fuzz out, and he's an older horse. I felt like last year he got tired in 10 runs, and I'd really like to finish strong so Fred and I decided that we would get on a horse that was offered to us by Gary and Merilee Maxfield. He's an amazing animal and his name is Nova." According to Hunter, he has a little different style, and can handle running on that kind of ground. "I worked him this morning, he's ready to go so I'm going to step on him. He's an easy transition," Hunter said confidently. There's also an added benefit to riding Nova for a couple rounds, "I feel really blessed to get on him, plus that will give Fuzz a couple days rest and that'll help him."
PHOTO BY: Larry Smith
And Hunter has been helping others by raising awareness for childhood cancer research here at the Wrangler NFR, "The support has been outstanding. My son is a cancer survivor and I wanted to take the opportunity to let people know that there is such a great need for the money to do research to find a cure." More information is available at NFR Glitter Like Gold.
With a 13.71 second run, current WPRA World Champion Barrel Racer Fallon Taylor claimed second place. WPRA Barrel Racing World standings leader, Lisa Lockhart was third with a 13.75. Plus, that run helped her move up to No. 1 in the average race. Taylor Jacob turned in a 13.76 for fourth place, while Callie duPerier was one tenth longer to earn fifth place with a 13.86. Rounding out the top six was Sarah Rose McDonald for running a 13.97.