By JimiBeth Myers
Behind the Scenes
Rodeoing from the Other Side of the Fence
When rodeo competitors rise to the ranks of the National Finals Rodeo they are used to being in the arena, but sometimes they are on the other side of the fence watching their horses or loved ones compete. We talked to a few NFR Qualifiers about how it feels when they watch instead of ride.
Sherry Cervi has a Special Reason to Watch Hailey Kinsel
Hailey Kinsel set an arena record at the Thomas & Mack with an astonishing 13.11 second run in Round 3 of WNFR on DM Sissy Hayday that she calls “Sister” because she also owned her half sister, who she lost earlier this year.
Hailey said, “she’s by Dinero, who is one of my all-time favorites. I’ve loved watching Sherry on him growing up, so it’s a blessing to have Sister from him.”
She is referring to the 1995 palomino stallion PC Frenchmans Hayday (“Dinero”) from the Potter Ranch. Dinero helped World Champion Barrel Racer Sherry Cervi reach third place in the aggregate in 2005, which was the same year he was 3rd place in the voting for AQHA/PRCA Heeling Horse of the Year. Cervi’s famous barrel horse, Stingray, is by Dinero, and she set an arena record at the NFR in 2010 with a time of 13.49 seconds.
We asked Sherry Cervi what it was like to watch one of her horse’s legacies break the arena record from the stands at the Thomas & Mack where she herself has competed in 19 NFR’s. She said, “It was amazing. I went and sat with my dad to watch. It was a pretty exciting night of barrel racing. Kassie [Mowery] made an awesome run [when she broke the arena record clocking 13.36 seconds]. I thought then that if Hailey got her third barrel that it was going to be pretty fast. When she turned the third and didn’t step off like she had in the first two rounds I knew it was super fast. She did an awesome job riding. She didn’t panic, which can happen when you know you have a good run going. I am very happy for her and her family.”
Matt and Bendi Dunn Have Watched Sharpie Take Stevi Hillman to Cheyenne and Las Vegas
Matt and Bendi Dunn have some experience in watching the horses from their breeding program from the stands. They started back when the bedrock of their barrel horse breeding program, Mulberry Canyon Moon, took Angie Meadors to the WNFR in 2010 and 2011. Most breeding programs are built on stallions, but they took a chance and built theirs on a mare.
The Dunns first met MCM ImASharpGuy, known as "Sharpie”, in a petri dish because they were there the day the embryo was flushed from Mulberry Canyon Moon. They were also there the day he was born. Back in February of this year, they entrusted the now 6 year old with WPRA barrel racer Stevi Hillman with big hopes for the pair. They haven’t been disappointed.
Matt and Bendi were in Wyoming for the famous Cheyenne Frontier Days Rodeo when Sharpie and Stevi won the rodeo. This earned them just over $22,000 and made a nice contribution to paving her path back to Las Vegas for a second consecutive year.
Bendi Dunn said, “It was very special to be in Cheyenne. We had our kids with us. So, it was pretty awesome. Now we are at the NFR.”
When asked about the challenges that Sharpie has faced by hitting barrels at the Thomas & Mack Dunn says, “ This horse business is humbling that is for sure…one week you’re on top of the world, the next you are hitting barrels. [The NFR] is his icing on the cake. We don’t have to win here to say that things were successful this year. We are over the moon proud of Sharpie and Stevi and what they’ve done. It's been an amazing year.”
Sitting amongst the 17,000 rodeo fans in the Thomas & Mack fills anyone with excitement, but it is different when you literally have a horse in the race. Bendi says that when she was at the WNFR the first time with Mulberry that she was nervous watching her run. With Sharpie “it has been more emotional and more proud than anything. He is just so young and we are so proud that he has been able to have the year that he has at this age. We know that the future is bright with so many more years to look forward to.”
Watching an Arena Record Set on your Horse
Bendi Dunn’s statement about the barrel racing business being humbling hit home in Round 3 as Martha and Jeff Smith watched their horse, FirewaterMakeMeHappy, affectionately dubbed “Junior”, carry jockey Kassie Mowry to an arena record run of 13.36. The roar from the crowd had hardly subsided from Junior’s smokin’ run before Hailey Kinsel stole the thunder by clocking a blistering 13.11 only 2 horses later.
“Watching that run was a life changing experience”, stated Martha Smith, “even though it only lasted a matter of a few seconds it is something that can never be taken away from him. Just placing at the NFR is a big deal. I feel very blessed. I have total confidence in Kassie because she is a master. It’s exciting. It's a once in a lifetime thing.”