By Jolee Lautaret
Sonora, California — Mother's Day weekend can be a tough one to be on the rodeo road and away from your kids and home. Winning can take the sting out of it but it's still tough.
Utah barrel racer Kimmie Wall has two kids back home in Roosevelt, 13 year old Brylee and 11 year old Stran. Brylee has recently hit the junior rodeo trail and can't wait until the day she gets to rodeo with Mom. Stran is a big sports fan in addition to following in his parents' footsteps as a horseman.
"I plan to stay around the Utah rodeos more this summer, stay closer to home," says Wall, adding that the kids can't miss school enough to travel with her. "They're busy so it's hard to keep them out of school."
The kids did get to fulfill a big wish, traveling to RodeoHouston with Mom for about a week this winter.
"I think they just wanted to come to the concerts; it wasn't about seeing Mom run barrels, it was about Pit Bull and the Zac Brown Band," Wall laughs. "But we had a great time, they got to see all of my rodeo family."
In her rookie season in 2014, Wall competed at 100 rodeos and spent much of the year on the road. She won better than $60,000 to finish 20th in the WPRA World standings, narrowly missing the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo (NFR) in her first season as a pro.
"As a rookie, you're kind of stuck . . . you have to go," Wall says. "You don't get to go to the big rodeos [with limits]. This year I'm going to try to rodeo smarter not harder."
"I hope it works out for me."
The plan so far has great potential. Wall has only competed in 12 rodeos through mid-May but has won $13,399. She plans another week in California before heading home again.
Wall has made the most of her California spring, beginning with Clovis during the last weekend of April.
Wall had traveled to Kissimmee, Fla., to compete in her first Ram National Circuit Finals Rodeo (RNCFR) in March but her great mare Foxy pulled a shoe and bruised her foot, forcing the cowgirl to ride a borrowed horse to complete her competition there.
"We came home and rested," she says, adding with relief that Foxy was ready to go again after three weeks. TKW Bullys Famous Fox is Wall's primary mount, a daughter of Bully Bullion out of Gateway ta Love, a daughter of Dash ta Fame. Along with her husband, Travis, Wall raised and trained the now seven year old mare.
"He starts them and I finish them," she laughs. In fact, Travis is back home breaking colts from their herd while she's rodeoing this spring. "We've got some nice young ones that I'm trying to get out this year and I'll campaign them at the futurities next year."
Foxy is the flagship of their breeding program to date and the Walls have offered embryos out of the great mare for sale through Royal Vista Southwest's Equine Embryo Exchange.
"That's another reason for me to stick closer to home, so we can get some babies out of her," notes Wall, an endorsee for Platinum Performance, Cactus Saddlery and T.J.'s Tire Pros. "It's amazing what shipped semen and embryo transfer has done for our program and to make the industry better."
Foxy was the Wall's first product using advanced breeding technologies now available. In addition to horses still in their barn, they have sold others including the stallion TKW Runaway Fame.
"Obviously, we hope to prove Foxy [as a broodmare]; it just makes her more valuable," she says. "With shipped semen and embryo transfer, we're getting better quality horses."
"It's really anybody's game," says Wall, as a result of new breeding practices. "There are so many great horses out there."
Wall and Foxy kick started their spring run in Clovis, winning third, before going for two victories in two weekends. She shared the win at the Stampede Days Rodeo in Bakersfield, a stop on the WPRA Tour, before topping it with a big win at the Mother Lode Round-Up in Sonora over Mother's Day weekend.
Running in the first performance on Saturday, May 9, Wall posted a blistering 17.13 second run. Ruth Haislip would come closest at 17.34 seconds, giving Wall her first title at the Mother Lode Round-Up, a play on the city's history as a gold mining camp in the 1850's and the fact that the 58 year old rodeo is always held on Mother's Day weekend.
Wall has now banked $6,064 in three weeks in California.
"I hope and pray it won't be the end," she says. "I'm so proud of her; she has grown up so much, even from last year. Her maturity level even from a year ago is improved."
Noting that she is sometimes a "stinker," Wall says she got held up at the gate before her run in Sonora due to a downed barrel. In the past, Wall has had some gate issues with her gritty mare but not in Sonora.
"She just waited and then went in and did her job," she says. "She couldn't have been any better."
"California has treated me well."
After coming so close to a trip to Las Vegas for the Wrangler NFR in 2014, Wall is hoping to make the dream a reality in 2015.
"Every year changes. I think, next year will be easier but it seems like every year comes with new challenges," she says of building on her rookie experiences. The cowgirl is well positioned at 41st in the current WPRA World standings with so many great rodeos coming up in the summer, many close to her home in the Wilderness Circuit.
For more information on the Mother Lode Round-Up, visit them on-line at www.motherloderoundup.com.