Wash.-There is definitely a challenge in starting each
season fresh with a brand new mount . . . or mounts.
For many futurity trainers across the country, that
is just part of the job. A new season means a new set
of horses to campaign while the previous year's crop
goes on with other riders.
Hallie Melvin knows this cycle very
well. The Hermosa, S.D., cowgirl has been highly successful
as a futurity trainer in her career and trained a Reserve
World Champion in the WPRA Futurity division back in
2006, a palomino daughter of Pro Elite Sire Incentive
(PESI) sire Frenchmans Guy named Silky French Pie.
Melvin is back in the mix in 2012
with another Frenchmans Guy baby, a 5-year old gelding
named French Gold Charger, aka Eddie. After a tremendous
run at the Sand Cup Futurity in Pasco, Wash., on Easter
weekend, the duo leads the WPRA Futurity standings by
"She'll be happy," Melvin
says of Eddie's owner, Minnesota barrel racer Ashley
Gustafson. Gustafson sent the gelding to Melvin in July
Melvin describes Eddie as "a
natural" on the barrel pattern, even in the earliest
days of training.
"He is kind of a worrier .
. . at the first couple of futurities in Arizona, he
was looking around a little bit," she says. "But
he has a lot of ability that showed up right at first.
I just had to show him the pattern."
In Pasco, Melvin took home $3,496
after runs of 17.553 and 17.233. She placed eighth in
the opening round and second in the second round to
finish third in the average. She earned 43 points toward
the WPRA title.
"He's got tons of run,"
Melvin describes Eddie, noting that many of Frenchmans
Guys' progeny are known more for their rate to the turns.
"I campaigned a full sister to Eddie last year
and she made really pretty runs and could clock but
if you made one mistake, your time would be really affected.
"With Eddie, he is a free roller;
he can make mistakes and still clock."
Eddie has earned $9,163 at WPRA
sanctioned futurities in 2012.
Melvin has been training barrel
horses since high school and grew up in a family that
raised horses. She campaigns four to five futurity horses
"They are so different and
they are just colts. It is a bit challenging,"
she says of riding so many different horses at once.
"The last couple of years, I have tried to have
at least one of my own, too."
Eddie has already earned PESI bonus
money at the PacWest Barrel Futurity in Buckeye, Ariz.,
and the Diamonds and Dirt Futurity in Bryan, Texas,
and will no doubt add more to his bank following the
event in Pasco. The Sand Cup had $2,000 PESI bonus money
to the Futurity, $1,500 to the Derby and $500 a day
to the Open 4D races. Results are still pending.
"I have a lot of owners who
ask me about prospects and I tell them to buy horses
eligible for the breeder's incentives. There's more
money to win with no entry fees. It's definitely a bonus
to have," Melvin says. As a stallion owner - she
stands a son of PESI sire Dash Ta Fame called Famous
Charmer - Melvin can certainly appreciate the added
benefit to owners and breeders alike.
"We have Famous Charmer in
the Future Fortunes and 5-State Breeders' Futurity.
As more of his colts get out there, we will add others
like the PESI."
As for Eddie, Melvin will continue
his season this weekend at Walla Walla, the Barrel Daze
Futurity, before hitting another WPRA co-sanctioned
event, the Better Barrel Races (BBR) World Finals Futurity
in Oklahoma City at the end of April.
"After that, we will probably
just go to some jackpots and then hit the fall futurities.
We will definitely go to Lincoln for the WPRA Finals."