By Jolee Lautaret
Riverdale, California — Ruth Haislip is no longer working full time as a veterinarian but don't think that the cowgirl from Acampo, Calif., is slowing down. If anything, she has got her hands fuller than ever.
After making three appearances at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo in 1998-2000 aboard the great mare Go Royal Scarlett, Haislip slowed her competition schedule, focusing on the veterinary clinic that she owned and managed and putting her efforts into building a breeding program with Scarlett as the anchor.
Working with her husband Jim, Haislip had already proven a knack for breeding with Scarlett; the Haislips had bred the mare Wild N Groovy to the racehorse Royal Go Go to produce the 1992 sorrel mare which made many of Haislip's rodeo dreams come true, finishing a career best fourth in the WPRA World standings in 1998.
Scarlett quickly proved to be just as great as a broodmare as she had been as a professional barrel horse. Her earliest progeny stormed the 2013 Barrel Futurities of America competition in Oklahoma City with Royal Star Commander (by AR Star) setting a new arena record en route to winning the BFA Derby while Famous Scarlett (by Dash ta Fame) took Reserve honors in the BFA Futurity. Both horses were ridden by Erin Ricotti-Hice.
Meanwhile, things began to change for Haislip. She sold her practice to VCA — Veterinary Centers of America, relieving herself of the management functions of the business.
"Now I work for them," she says, "but I only work three days a week."
Her youngest son went off to college as well, leaving Haislip with more time than ever before to concentrate on her growing horse herd.
"I'm getting old so if I wanted to start competing again, I figured it was time," Haislip laughs. She notes that she now has 14 of Scarlett's foals.
"I've got too many," she adds. "I need to sell some but I'm too picky about where they end up. I want it to be a good fit."
"And I need to sell them when they're younger because I get too attached," she admits.
Over the years, Jim Haislip has been the one to start the colts and put the early foundation of the pattern on them. More recently, the Haislips have relied on outside help for the first 60 days of riding before Jim takes the reins.
"He is a real foundation type; he rode with John Hoyt in Arizona doing reining, really getting them working off their hind end," she adds. "So they are started that way."
"When they're bred to run barrels, that helps too."
In the past, the Haislips would send their horses to other trainers once the foundation was in place.
"When I was working full time, we always had someone else finish them out," Haislip says. "I was always more the jockey. I don't like to ride colts; I prefer to just get on and go fast."
With more time now to ride, Haislip will take on more of the finishing and seasoning than in the past. Still in the hopper are a six year old full sister to Royal Star Commander, two five-year old full brothers out of Scarlett by the great Frenchmans Guy, and two three-year old full siblings to Famous Scarlett, the mare she calls Jewel. Plus, she has a yearling A Smooth Guy out of Jewel and a brand new baby by Slick by Design out of Jewel.
Though it had been awhile since she rodeoed, Haislip has looked as comfortable as ever since returning to the rodeo arena last fall. She mainly rides the now six year old Jewel for the rodeos.
"I love her so much . . . she is just like Scarlett, maybe a little higher but that's the Dash ta Fame coming out," Haislip says. "She's so easy, though she is having a little trouble adjusting to rodeo ground."
The adjustments have looked more seamless than not in the past month. While facing many of the WPRA's current top 25 riders and horses at the California spring run of rodeos, Haislip has been winning steadily, including a big weekend to kick off May.
Jewel dominated the competition at the Riverdale Rodeo, clocking in at 17.21 seconds to win first by better than two tenths over her closest competition. She took second in Stonyford to make her weekend total $1,455.
Coupled with placings at Oakdale, Springville and a huge win at Lakeside two weeks back, Haislip has picked up over $5,000 in the last month to land fourth in the current California Circuit standings.
"She worked really good at Stonyford," Haislip says, noting that the pair had a little trouble at the WPRA Tour in Bakersfield to start their weekend. "And Riverdale was just really, really good. I thought the committee did a good job; the ground was good and safe."
Haislip is not making big plans to hit the road hard, saying she has too many horses at home to ride, but is thinking about a Fourth of July run along with remaining California circuit rodeos.
"I'm venturing out a little bit."
"My main goal is to win enough to get into the bigger rodeos next year," she says, noting that this year is also about seasoning for Jewel. "I haven't gone in eight years and the biggest change is the qualifications and the different tours and standings. I think I need a secretary along to help me keep up!"
Haislip is planning on futurities next year and hopefully a berth into the Ram California Circuit Finals Rodeo in October.
"They said it's going to pay a lot this year so it definitely makes it worthwhile to go."
For now, the former college rodeo champion who says she has ridden horses "forever" is enjoying the ride and looking to market her horses more extensively, including a Facebook page that her oldest son will manage.
"One reason I'm enjoying it so much is that Jewel is so much like Scarlett," she admits. Scarlett is now 23 years old and still producing embryos. The Haislips only lost Scarlett's dam, Wild N Groovy, a few years ago. She was 32.
"We've really been blessed with nice horses and I'd love to get more of them into the hands of people who will go on and do well with them."
For more information on the Riverdale Rodeo, visit them on-line at riverdalerodeo.webs.com. Information on the Stonyford Rodeo can be found at www.stonycreekhorsemen.org.