Top horse: 2014 Black Hills Stock Show Ranch Rodeo | TSLN.com

Top horse: 2014 Black Hills Stock Show Ranch Rodeo

A pretty, bald-faced sorrel used by one of the members of the 2014 BHSS Ranch Rodeo champion team caught the eye of many in the arena that day. Handy and quiet as a rope horse, "Barbie" was just as comfortable sorting cattle and displayed excellent manners throughout the competition She was selected by the judges as the "Top Horse" for the 2014 BHSS Ranch Rodeo.

Jake Poppe hauled Barbie from Fallon, Mont., to Rapid City to compete in the BHSS Ranch Rodeo. Riding in a trailer is nothing new for the ranch and rope horse who has carried Poppe to check-earning placings and many saddles at ropings including The Spencer Miller Memorial, the Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame Championship, the Commissioner's Classic Roping, USTRC, WSTRC, local jackpots, and the World Series of Team Roping Championships in Las Vegas, Nev.

Poppe bought the mare as a started four-year-old from Chris Rigali, of Firestone, Colo. He saw promise in Barbie's interest and ability in roping and he started taking her to the arena the summer of her fifth year. A future as a heel horse looked to be in the cards. She's naturally cowy, light and sure footed, with a tenacity for working cattle, he said. An appreciable bonus to her cattiness and competitive nature is her personality. While she can be a little snorty around a dark barn, she carries the keen common sense of a more maturely-aged using horse.

While Poppe credits Barbie for cash as well as many saddles he's taken home after heeling steers, Barbie is even more of an asset as a family ranch horse. The family operation is run from the back of a horse, and Barbie's been a mainstay from the beginning. She has trekked spacious lease country east of Colorado Springs, hunting and doctoring cattle. She continues to work regularly on the Montana ranch, also being used to check and doctor cattle in Wyoming and Colorado. She's never stepped a lame step, will go day after day, and shows up with the same good attitude every time.

Barbie is gentle natured, and likes to pack kids and grandmas. Poppe's own mother had been hurt in a bad horse wreck years ago. She only trusted one horse after the accident. She agreed to get on Barbie to move some cattle one day and, "She loved her, just as anyone does that swings a spur up over her," Poppe said.

A few years ago, Barbie was intent on stealing an orphan stud colt from his surrogate mare. Sure enough, after making a few calls, the family learned that Barbie had had a 'catch colt' as a two year old. Someday, when the ranch can get along without her, and when Poppe has another good one going in the roping pen, she'll be a fine broodmare, no doubt.

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Barbie's registered name is Taris Smart Bar, out of a Doc Tari Stud and a Smart Little Lena mare. She's a 2006 model, bred by Kellie Jo Kolvek-Wine of West Virginia. F

–staff report