After years on the rodeo circuit, two trips to the National Finals Rodeo and a win at the Calgary Stampede, Tana Poppino is doing something right when it comes to picking her mounts. Rodeo is Poppino’s passion, and only a select few barrel horses can ever truly become rodeo greats.
“I’m a romantic,” she admitted. “Rodeo is rodeo. That’s where it all started. There’s nothing like running in the middle of the wide open spaces in front of a crowd of ten thousand on a Sunday afternoon.”
Rodeo shows who’s the best horsewoman over an entire year on all different types of ground,
weather and arena size, Poppino said. While barrel races require specific types of ground, relatively uniform alleyways and consistently sized patterns, rodeo is always changing, requiring the cowgirl and the horse to stay on their toes.
“Rodeo forces the mental game. When set-ups are constantly changing, you have to deal with it. It forces you to be stronger mentally,” she said of her sport.
Finding a horse to handle all of that is not easy, and keeping them healthy is even harder, Poppino said.
A rodeo horse has to be, first and foremost, mentally tough. The horse has got to want to run barrels.
“Until Amigo came along, I never had one that would run at that top level,” she said. “He has grit and heart, and you can’t get that from breeding.”
Poppino bought Amigo as a four-year-old already broke. She usually buys her horses that way because she does not enjoy the slow work that young horses require. She doesn’t mind them making mistakes as they gain their speed, as long as they are trying.
To keep her horses going, Poppino takes a “hands-on” approach to their health. On Amigo, she uses everything from chiropractics, acupuncture, ice boots massages and joint injections regularly. She also believes in using Adequan on a regular basis. Really knowing her horses is important to her, because that way he can tell when something is off before it becomes a major problem.