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Barrel Racing

Futurities Are Not The Finish Line

Every year, we see numerous stallions compete at futurities across the United States.  Many of these go straight to the breeding barn, while few get the opportunity to continue on with their barrel racing careers.  Many questions can affect the career choice for these stallions;  Will the stallion be more valuable standing full-time to the public, can he continue to win enough to validate not standing him or will he handle the pressure of both breeding and competing?  With big incentive races popping up yearly, slot race opportunites at an increase, and rodeo being televised for all to see, stallion owners are left with a variety of options on which path to take.  

In the past years, we have watched only a couple stallions graduate from futurities and go on to the National Finals Rodeo.  JL Dash Ta Heaven, Slick By Design and Freckles Ta Fame proved to the world that it can be done.  At the Ruby Buckle at Guthrie, OK in April, we watched numerous stallions shine in both the futurity and derby.  Seis On The Chase, ridden by Ashley Schaffer, won second in the futurity average.  In the first round of the derby, three of the top six were stallions.  We have been watching World Champion, Lindsay Sears win at rodeos all spring on her stallion, SME One Of A Kind.  Al Cappone, better known as Banker, is also making a name for himself at the rodeos.  Shali Lord, from Lamar, Colorado, has partnered up with Nickelbar Ranch to start another chapter for this stallion.

Lord is a veteran of knowledge when it comes to hauling stallions.  She rode, Freckles Ta Fame, known as Can Man, to numerous rodeo wins and an NFR qualification.  “Can Man had gone to the futurities with Ashley Schaffer.  He had a successful futurity year, but they didn’t want his barrel racing career to end there.  We did not know what he was going to be, so we took him to a few small circuit rodeos to get his feet wet.  He placed at his first rodeo I took him to,” said Lord.  “Joe and Carla Spitz are family friends.  He called and asked if I would take him to season him to see what would happen.” This leap of faith from Spitz’s and Lord eventually landed Can Man and Shali at the 2019 NFR. 

Banker and Shali are starting out their journey together in a similar fashion.  “I got Banker back in October and took him to some jackpots to get with him.  Denver Stock Show & Rodeo was his first rodeo and he did well.   We plan to continue to circuit rodeo and go from there.  We will see how June goes and plan accordingly,” shared Lord. The duo is headed into the summer run with a lot of confidence as they just posted two sub 17-second runs at the Ruby Buckle on a standard and won third in the derby average.  Both Banker and Can Man are easy to haul and be around.  They are laid back and relaxed in the warm up pen.  

Al Cappone, was trained by Jana Brown and futuritied by Dustin Angelle.  He is owned by Radley and Crystal Nichols of NickelBar Ranch.  Crystal Nichols is excited about the pairing of Shali Lord and Banker.  Nichols is particular about who she sends her horses to.  She shares, “I have a couple of girls that have been there, done that, so I call and ask them a lot.  We have certain trainers that like a particular breeding over others. We try to pair our prospects up with what each trainer might like.  I try to find trainers with soft hands, a good reputation and honest personality.  When pairing up Banker, we knew it was a lot to ask for someone to take on a stallion.  We had a good friend recommend Shali Lord.  We wanted to see Banker transition from futurities and derbies into the rodeo scene.  We knew he could do it as he handled a lot of different ground conditions, is sound and loves his job.  Dustin Angelle, his futurity rider, told us that he has all the tools and feels like he has what it takes to keep going on.  With all of the studs coming up and the industry changing, we felt he needed to be in the public eye and needed to keep going.  Shali has been very honest with us and agreed to take him to see where it would go.  So far it seems to be working.” 

For the owners, it is very exciting to watch these young horses transition into the rodeo world with success.  Nichols said, “We were watching Denver on TV and the whole family came in to watch.  It was his first true rodeo experience and he handled it like a champ.  The whole family was screaming and cheering.  Shali said that he was quiet in the back.  This is all you can ask for.  It is an honor and exciting to see him go on and do well.  We still have a long ways to go, but he has been right there and is being consistent.  He is just getting his feet wet and Shali is doing a great job.” 

Lord shared advice for stallion owners wanting to extend their stallions careers beyond their futurity year. “When looking for someone to take your stallion to rodeos, try to find someone with experience.  It is important to find someone with small numbers, so they can keep enough focus on the stallion.  It’s crucial to pay attention to the stallions mind to see what they can handle and take.  I always keep them on a short reign to keep them ruly. Keeping them fit and focused helps when trying to give them the best opportunity at the rodeos.  Neither of the two stallions I have hauled were collected on while competing.  The owners offered frozen semen contracts only during those years.  If they are successful at the futurities and derbys, they will have a higher chance to be successful at the rodeos.  This is not always the case, but it gives them a better shot.” 

There are things to look for when deciding if a stallion is a good rodeo candidate. “If they are good to be around and easy to warm up around, I think that is a good sign to go on.  If they can handle different arena set ups and ground conditions, your odds are better at succeeding.  It is never a sure bet until you try,” says Lord.  She fortunately has not had to send one back home yet.  “If a stallion doesn’t progress in the rodeo scene, it does not mean that they won’t excel in jackpot settings and don’t necessarily have to be confined to just the breeding barn.  By being able to succeed at both futuritites and rodeos, it extends your breeding capabilities to two different worlds:  both the rodeo scene and those that only do futurities.” 

Lord hauled two stallions to the 2019 NFR in Las Vegas. She had Can Man, but also hauled Streakin Boon Dox.  She doesn’t usually take two stallions at the same time, but had to make an exception.  To keep them content, she would tie them far away from each other.  They didn’t stay stalled next to each other to keep them from trying to out pride the other.  “When hauling a stallion, you have to work hard and plan accordingly.  You need to have a plan on where you will stay or unload and always be paying attention to everyone else around you,” shared Lord. 

Shali feeds her horses Purina Performance Feed.  She uses a Bemer blanket to keep them feeling good.  She always ices their legs, uses Simply Equine poultice and Kahm poultice.  They get CBD Kahm pellets, Simply Equine Full Bucket and Purina Strategy Healthy Edge.  She keeps the stallions conditioned by riding them on the ranch a lot.  She will work the pattern if she feels there is something from a previous run that needs to be worked on to keep them sharp. 

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