Montana Barrel Daze a success for qualifiers | TSLN.com

Montana Barrel Daze a success for qualifiers

Lana Tibbetts, Carrie Stadheim
for Tri-State Livestock News

With the rugged Yellowstone River as a backdrop, barrel racers from across the country congregated in the big sky state to compete for big cash.

The Montana Barrel Daze/American Qualifier, held Oct. 18-19, at the Cottonwood Equestrian Center in Silesia, Montana, paid out over $72,000.

Contestants from Canada, California, Florida and in between vied for jackpot payouts, plus many competed for a chance to run barrels in the second annual "American" rodeo. Known as the world's richest one-day rodeo, the American will return to AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, March 1, 2015. According to the website, rodeo greats will compete for $2 million that day.

While the world's top ten cowboys and girls from the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo automatically qualify for the event, those who claw their way up through a "qualifier" are eligible to win bigger money. In a bit of a David and Goliath style competition, the PRCA/WPRA top ten take home $100,000 to win their event, but if a "qualifier" comes out on top, they may lay claim to $1 million, depending on how many "qualifiers" win different events said Lana Tibbets, Montana Barrel Daze/American Qualifier organizer.

Ten qualifying competitions are held around the country for each rodeo event, said Tibbetts. The top ten contestants from each qualifier have the chance to compete in the semifinals, she explained, and for $500, any barrel racer could enter a qualifier for a chance to compete at the American semi finals. Competitors can qualify twice on two different horses, which North Dakota's Britta O'Keefe did. Tibbetts said the same horse can also be used to qualify two different riders, but two riders can't use the same horse at the semi-finals.

There are two barrel racing qualifiers remaining – one in Texas and one in Arizona.

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Tibbetts said that five contestants from each event advance from the semi-finals to the March rodeo.

"But we might have 10 barrel racers at the finals because we've had so many competing in the qualifiers." Tibbetts said 116 riders entered the Montana American qualifier, and over 200 are slated to compete in the one to be held in Texas. Over 1,000 barrel racers will probably compete in a qualifier, Tibbets said, explaining that half of their entry fees go into the pot to be paid at the American. A fourth of the entry fees are paid out the day of the qualifier, and the other fourth go for payouts at the semi finals.

Robin Hoffman of the Better Barrel Racing Association approached Tibbetts about hosting a qualifying event in Montana and Tibbetts grabbed the chance. "We did a lot of extra things to make it special, we had a patriotic opening ceremony, interviews with contestants and we had a live webcast that was free thanks to our sponsors." Tibbetts said they believes their webcast enjoyed 20,000 plus views over the weekend.

In addition to the Qualifier, cowgirls showed up in droves to compete in the jackpot. "We had 386 one day and 375 one day," Tibbetts said, adding that probably at least 10 of the contestants were aged 19 and under.

The big weekend money winner was Cassidy Kruse. This Wyoming young gun should have a good good memories of Montana, with a weekend to the tune of $6,577, said Tibbets.

The American qualifiers each received horse coolers donated by Classic Equine, vests from Plains Horizon Equine Insurance, caps from Love Life Rodeo, Ariat Jean gift certificates, and MVP gift certificates for product. 321 Action Video provided the live webcast on Barrel Horse World and shared footage to RFD. Jackie Jensen photography was on hand for the pictures.

Tibbets said she appreciates the Better Barrel Racing Association for inviting them to be a part of the American rodeo qualification process. "It takes a team to put on an event like this and the team of Ross and Casey Wagner and Carrie Parker help make it all happen." She also appreciated sponsors Copper Spring Ranch, Barclay Construction, American Legion Prairie Post #42 Terry, Montana, Green Acres, Ingram Quarter Horses, J & L Pitliners, Most Wanted Well Service, Lafleur Equine, Rivers Edge Assisted Living, and Western Ranch Supply. "Great things are in store for 2015. Bigger and better," Tibbetts said.

Complete results are available at CopperSpringRanch.com

Oct. 18 results:

Lisa Anderson of Copper Spring Ranch aboard Jess Shiften took top honors and $481 in the the Wrangler Divisional Circuit Finals, with a time of 15.07.

The Saturday Open 5D and WPRA sidepots was won by Cassidy Kruse with a 14.642 riding Dash To Tim for a total of $1,501.

Canadian Sierra Shields atop Firey Hot Coco clocked in at 15.14, for $372 to be the WPRA Permit race winner.

Senior sidepot winner was Vicki Carter with a time of 14.96, riding Blazin Ta Fame for $269.

Saturday's futurity sidepot winner was Kelsey Lutjen 14.86 aboard standout futurity mare KN Fabs Gift of Fame

Oct. 19 results

Sunday morning was a packed house.

Kathy Grimes, Washington, aboard KG Justiceweexpected with a 14.667 for $2,175 punched her ticket to the Semi-Finals in Fort Worth. The runs for the American qualifier were accepted in the jackpot in order to prevent the horses from having to run a second time in a day. With the American qualifiers rolling their times into the 5D jackpot, Kathy won an additional $1,094 for first in the Open 5D for a weekend total of $3,650.

The Sunday WPRA winner was Cassidy Kruse, this time aboard the great JKR Assured Win with a time of 14.77 for $421, on whom she previously had acquired an American spot in Loveland, Colorado, in Sept. The WPRA permit winner was Kaylee Burnett with a smoking time of 14.87, which would have qualified her for the American had she been entered. The Senior sidepot was won by Carmel Wright aboard Sweetheart Special, with a 14.82 second run for $255. She had ridden that horse to qualify for the American in Loveland.

The futurity winner was Tami Semis, Oregon on her standout Ninnekahs Guy, 14.942 for $143. F

American qualifiers from Montana Barrel Daze

Kathy Grimes, Washington

Amber Moore, Oregon

Cassidy Kruse, Wyoming

Britta O’Keeffe, North Dakota

Shelly Anzick, Montana

Britta O’Keeffe, North Dakota

Kelly Conrado, Colorado

Megan Lewis, Idaho

Megan Swint, Florida

Cayla Melby, Oklahoma

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