Laura Lee Thomas, aboard Verily Six Bugs, placed second in the first go-round at the IPRA’s St. Tite last night. We’ll have more from Thomas on her performance at St. Tite when she gets back to the States, but for now enjoy reading about Tanner’s banner year in the APRA and IPRA, as Thomas walks us through her summer.
Talk about Tanner this year. This is the second time you’ve won the APRA on him, how has he changed since 2007?
I think he is more like the seasoned veteran of rodeo now. He doesn’t seem that different but is more solid. He’s 8 now and he was only a 5 year old with one year of hauling when I won it the first time.
What was your favorite rodeo this year? Why?
I think I’d have to say Attica, NY. Even though I’m from PA my family used to go to the Attica area to rope and barrel race when I was growing up. We used to spend the whole weekend at Attica for the rodeo back then and I got to have fun with kids my age. We still have a lot of friends there. Attica isn’t too far for me either so it’s kind of like my home town rodeo. This year I didn’t win it but I did get 2nd and I was only a few thousands off of first. It was nice to have a real good run there were a lot of people know me. I never was able to run Tanner there yet either due to a QH show that Rita likes me to take him to in Sussex, NJ.
What was your least favorite rodeo? Why?
Honestly I didn’t do that bad or have that bad of an experience at any of them. I knocked a barrel once so far right before I left for Texas for Mandi’s wedding. I would’ve place too. Another time on a tiny race track pen, I think in Oak Harbor, OH, Tanner got lost. As my 5 year old son said, “Tanner just freaked out”! He went so fast he got lost even on the 1st , but turned it, then couldn’t find the 2nd barrel, we actually were off pattern. I don’t think that’s ever happened except the time when he was young that I worked him on all right turns! I guess I’d have to say that rodeo then.
Benton, PA wasn’t too fun for me. Mandi was home from Texas so she went with me and was going to ride my gelding for some seasoning. We thought it’d be fun to actually get to go together to a rodeo since it’d been since last summer. The gate people were really mean, not only to us. They came over and told Mandi she couldn’t ride at all and she’d have to tie up the horse and go sit in the stands since she didn’t have a contestant armband! They didn’t even want her in the back to help me or anything like that either! They also had marked me off for armbands even though they didn’t give me any and told me I could ride in the arena without one, in other words I couldn’t compete! I might mention that my family always rides or comes to the back with me and Mandi is working as a trainer herself right now. I placed 2nd at the rodeo for a pretty decent pay check, so that part was good.
What was your game plan going into this season? Were you hauling with the goal of winning the APRA and qualifying for the IFR?
I had hoped to get to go to the good rodeos in my area, the ones with nice pens and decent added money. Most of them are IPRA/APRA so I could get points with both associations. I thought I’d try to make the AFR at least and just see how the summer went and decide from there. I didn’t start rodeoing until the end of June and Tanner had a bad abscess brewing, he even placed at one of the first two but I knew he wasn’t quite himself. We finally had to go to my vet, Dr Genovese of Cleveland Equine Clinic, where he dug most of the inside wall of his right front out and drilled a drain line for it as well. I left the vet and went to an IBRA super show and had to leave Tanner standing in a stall! Doc told me to wait about 9 days until I tried shoeing him, due to the fact the foot was still draining and I was packing it etc. I said but that ruins “Cowboy Christmas” (rodeos over the 4th of July). He said try putting a shoe on the night before I had to leave (which was only 5 days) and see how it goes. We did just that and I loaded him to leave with my back up horse “Tater” belonging to Teresa Quay and thought I’d see how Tanner was when we got there. After the shoeing he was probably 65% better, but by the time of the rodeo he seemed fine. I ran him all weekend and won or placed all three I ran him at. I ran Tater at a PBR that weekend and placed on him too. Since then Tanner has been running fantastic! Part way through July, I thought why not go to a few more IPRA’s too and see what happens. Pretty soon I was in the standings there too! As of now I still am and we qualified for St. Tite, QU, Canada probably where am at as you read this. If I do well I sure should be making the IFR too.
What are your goals for the rest of the year and on into the rest of Tanner’s career?
For now I hope to do well at Congress. We haven’t had him there since he was 5, I think. I hope to make the IFR and see how he does in Oklahoma City! I think he’ll handle the ground there and is consistent. I have been there since 2001, IFR 31 so it’ll be cool if I get to go back. I hope for him to stay sound and continue to run him for many years to come!
What are your pre- and post-race routines/rituals?
I always use “Cool Pack Green Jelly” under my wraps and wrap before I load to go or even sooner. Basically I am not too into a “rituals” but I do check them over well before I load (especially when I’m wrapping the legs) also before and after I ride/run each time. When I’m at a rodeo it’s easier to know what to do and when to be ready, since barrel racing is most always shortly after intermission. I find that horse shows are harder to know when to be prepared because you never know how long it’s really going to take. When I’m done running I get them cooled out and then brush or sponge them off. Once they’re cooled down I’ll wrap them again with the green jelly. I use a magnetic sheet when hauling etc. not at home much. I have magnetic bell boots that I like as well. I also like having bell boots on in the trailer too as I’ve had many horses step shoes off and that really eliminates that problem.
What are you thinking running down an alleyway to the first barrel?
Mostly I think I make sure I’m keeping my space going to the first and hustling my horse. However when I am running poles I always think that Tanner is going faster than I’ve ever gone and then in my mind I’m saying to myself “wow is he fast…is he going to turn…of course he is” – really!
What are you thinking running home?
Usually not that much, just hustle all the way out and listen for my time.