and Movin race to the finish line in Pendleton. Photo
by Dan Hubbell
Ore.-Christy Loflin really didn't know what she was getting
herself into when she entered the Pendleton Round-Up. After
she was entered, she pulled up a few videos on YouTube from
past Round-Ups and was even more unsure.
"I thought, 'holy cow,' what did
I do?" laughs the Franktown, Colo., cowgirl. Pendleton
has the most unique barrel race in the ranks of the WPRA,
probably anywhere in the world. For 100 years, the rodeo-where
their motto is Let 'Er Buck!--has been contested on a football
field which has a dirt track surrounding it. To accommodate
a fair and safe barrel race, the committee and the WPRA
Board devised the biggest pattern in ProRodeo by placing
the barrels on the dirt about 280 feet apart when it was
first approved in 2000.
Fully a dozen years later, the adrenaline
rush of racing across the grass infield, making a final
turn which is slightly uphill into the barrel and downhill
home makes Pendleton a favorite of many barrel racers and
a place to avoid for others. Love it or hate it--there seems
to be no in between-but there is nothing like it.
"I have never seen anything like
it in my life," Loflin says. "Just walking in
there took my breath away."
Blame it on the Walkers. Loflin has
had a tremendous season in 2012, ranked 21st before Pendleton,
and says that Byron and Mary Walker took her under their
wing in the final stages of the summer run.
"Byron told me, if I was going
to have any shot to make the Finals, I had to enter,"
she says, adding that she turned the entering choices over
to the World Champion Steer Wrestler.
Needing about $8K to close the gap to
the top 15, Loflin considered running her young horse on
the grass and sending her good mare, Sheza Blazin Move,
to Texas where the Walkers had her entered at Abilene. "Byron
told me that if I rode my good mare in Pendleton, I was
putting all my eggs in one basket," she says. "I
need a good check to even have a shot at the Finals."
Despite the misgivings, Loflin started
her first Round-Up off with a bang, running a 28.84 that
would hold up for second in the long round. Another bubble
cowgirl, Kim Schulze won the go with her 28.77.
"I was in the Monday slack and
I was supposed to run 10th. But there were several turnouts
and I ended up about seventh so I didn't get to watch many
go," Loflin says. "It was probably good because
I didn't have time to think."
Loflin started running barrels about
the time the first Round-Up WPRA barrel race was approved
after years in the hunter-jumper world. She got advice and
help from her neighbor up the road, four-time WPRA World
Champ Kristie Peterson.
"She suggested to me when I started
to go to the jackpots, then try the CPRA (Colorado Pro Rodeo
Association) rodeos and work my way up," Loflin remembers.
"But nope, I wanted to rodeo so I got my permit. I
did it the hard way."
Loflin got to travel some with Peterson
and has high praise for the champion, relaying a story of
traveling to Phillipsburg when Bozo, Peterson's great gelding,
came out of the arena sore. A group of kids came to Peterson,
asking for autographs and the ever amiable cowgirl obliged
each one before tending to her horse.
"That still sticks out in my mind,
how cool and how gracious she is."
Loflin has found her own great horse
with Movin, the 7-year old daughter of PESI stallion Blazin
Jetolena out of Sheza Cashanova MP. She bought the mare
two years ago and seasoned her in 2011, making the Mountain
States CFR. In 2012 the pair has run off with the title
in her home circuit with a big win at Greeley and a second
place finish behind Walker in Cheyenne.
"I'm really proud of her and so
blessed to have her," Loflin says. "She is good
inside and outside, big pens, bad ground. Nothing bothers
her. I'm not sure how I got so lucky to have her."
An adaptable horse is definitely an
advantage in Pendleton. Facing a tough field in the short
go on Saturday afternoon, September 15 which included the
last two Round-Up Champions (Nikki Steffes and Jody Sheffield),
the reigning Columbia River Circuit Champ Pam Capper and
the reigning world champ Lindsay Sears, Loflin knew she
needed a big run not only for the rodeo but for her season.
Movin responded with an even faster
run at 28.80 seconds. She would take third in the round
behind Steffes' 28.75 and Lee Ann Rust's 28.79 but she took
the average win over Rust by .15 second.
"It was really exciting; I am just
thrilled," says Loflin, adding that the required victory
lap on your new saddle is almost more exciting than the
run. "I watched Bobby Mote make his lap and his horse
was this neat buckskin. For mine, they brought this horse
that was spooking at everything! When I made my lap and
a half and came by the roping chutes, he just froze. The
pickup man had to help me get him going!"
"I'll never, ever forget it as
long as I live."
Loflin banked $9,416 for the win along
with an impressive prize line including the Severe saddle.
She was thrilled that representatives from Roper Apparel,
one of her sponsors along with MVP Products, were on hand
handing out jackets to the winners.
"I also promised Byron that if
I ever got interviewed for winning something that I would
mention Big B's Pro Team as a sponsor," she laughs.
The big win puts Loflin into 15th in
the World standings as of September 17; there is just $2,122
separating Loflin at 15th from Robyn Herring, who was also
in the short round at Pendleton, currently ranked 19th.
That means Loflin is running down the road from now until
September 30 when the regular season draws to a close.
"I came home for about 24 hours
to see my kids," Loflin says. "They are so cool,
they are really behind me. I think they just want to get
to miss school for 10 days in December!"
Loflin's daughter Randi Timmons is a
senior in high school and was winning her own titles last
weekend. The cowgirl won two rounds at the CPRA Finals and
was named the CPRA Rookie of the Year.
"I have missed a lot of things
rodeoing this year," says Loflin, adding that 10-year
old son Cole is quite the hockey player. "Whenever
I am about to make an important run, my daughter emails
me these quotes and inspirational things. It's pretty cool."
After the short visit home, Loflin is
heading for Albuquerque, Amarillo, El Paso, Texarkana and
maybe even the California rodeos during the last weekend
of September, just in case.
"I still can't believe it,"
she says of the Pendleton win. "It was a blast."