After 7 years of not entering rodeos today marks my “comeback” but I wouldn’t have been able to make “The Texas Felon” with out the horse that defined my training style and my complete failure all-in-one. Befuddled! He was a high bred Thoroughbred that on paper showed a great talent. He was purchased out of the Washington Bred Sale for $16K as a yearling and was paid into the Breeders Cup Races. His original owners told my Step-Dad that he was so smart that in the morning he would bring you his grain pan to be fed, he showed early promise, but he just didn’t do it for his owners. A few transactions later he ended up in our Race Barn where once again he showed great promise, but like Papa said, “small head small brain.” Instead of sending him down the road, Papa sent him to Nevada where he worked the wild horse corrals until another cowboy had an opening- which is where he got his fancy handle. By the time we got him back, he was bridle-horse-spin-a-hole-in-the-ground-broke, and I was fresh faced High School Graduate who knew it all!
I have asked myself many times over the past 15 years why my parents would turn me loose with such a nice horse? He was easy to pattern on the barrels and I used him to try out for my first queen contest. Now looking back, this is where it started to fall apart.
Rookie move #1 – Not listening to my horse! He had started refusing the gate. At first, I chalked it up to me being nervous, but steadily it was getting worse. It also didn’t help that all I was wanting to do was run barrels. Zero slow work! Zero taking him to do other things! Zero common sense!
Rookie move #2 – Not taking pride in my feed program. I was definitely more interested in my own social life then making sure my horse had the best feed program (i.e. feed at the same time daily, making sure he got grained and buted daily) but honestly, I was an 18-year-old kid at college having the time of my life. Again, who thought this was a good idea?
Rookie move #3 – Not listening to advice! I can’t tell you how many people tried to tell me I was going to blow him up and I needed to slow down and give him time. Unfortunately, I was hell bent on being “Betty Barrel Racer” regardless of the consequences.
This all finally blew up that March 2003, after trying out for the DNCFR Queen contest I took Befuddled home and turned him out. I was frustrated and so was he. After a week off, I went to check on him and found him pushed up in the corner of the corral with Strangles. I was frantic and called my stepdad. Had I caused this? Was he going to die? If you have never experienced Strangles, it’s the horse equivalent of Strep Throat except worse. The glands underneath the jaw become puss-filled pockets and is extremely contagious.
Papa explained that time off was what it was going to take and BAM! just like that I was horseless again. I waited two months for him to get better and we started slow work again. Just like a kid in a candy store, I was hell bent on going rodeo’n. I entered up in Mackey, Idaho – toted as “Idaho’s Wildest Rodeo” and off we went. Of course, like an idiot, I changed bits the day of (we actually didn’t have the worst run of our lives) had we not gone up the fence at the first barrel. However, it was the trip home that was the career ender for us. I had put a hay bag in with him and I am not sure if he got hung up or if he was messing around with it, long story short, he cut his head open. Needless to say my stepdad wasn’t impressed and I was once again without a horse.
This was one of the first hard-life lessons I learned that eventually became a blessing in disguise. Without Befuddled, I wouldn’t have learned and accepted what I did wrong and I would’ve of never purchased that horse that changed my life.
So cheer’s to the “lesson” horse- we all have one (even if we don’t want to admit it)!
The Rodeo Gypsy turned Jr Rodeo Mom