West Coast Barrel Racing Association gave its members $321,000 reasons to show up to the 2019 finals in King City this year. The king of barrel racing associations had a shocking $173,745 dollars in added money to the open 5D three-day finals along with multiple side pots. Running over 600 contestants through the gates each day with lightning speed and great ground was only part of this amazing race. It was an action-packed weekend. On top of the open race they had a producer appreciate dinner, gave away 4 motorcycles, had a youth class Saturday and Sunday, the Pendleton Whiskey Men’s Barrel Race and the Pendleton Whiskey Shot Race.
Friday night the wonderful owners of WCBRA, Taylor and Bailey Nahrgang, graciously host a free spaghetti dinner for everyone wanting to attend, to show appreciation to all the event producers who worked hard all year putting on barrel races to raise that incredible amount of added money. Without these amazing people willing to produce these races this spectacular finals would not be possible. Bailey & Taylor generously hand out token gifts to their top 50 producers, recognizing each of them for their support.
Saturday, day one of this exciting event saw a smoking 17.138 ran by Kristin Weaver-Brown on JW Freeze Frame setting the pace for the weekend. Not only did she win $3,498 but she also received a beautiful Montana Silversmith buckle. The 2011 Palomino mare by Frenchmans Guy out of a Dash Ta Fame mare is owned by Kristin Shoppa, Shoppa Ranch. The mare has been with Kristin Weaver-Brown for 2 years now. The mare was purchased by Shoppa as a derby horse through Joy Wardo and hit the rodeo trail. Shoppa decided to send the mare to Kristin to get seasoned and more experience under her while she took a break and traveled the world. The two women have known each other for over 20 years and are very close. “It’s so fun for me to be part of her life and I love her,” Weaver-Brown exclaims. Kristin started training Shoppa when she was only 13 years old so it was the perfect place for Shoppa to send her mare knowing Kristin’s riding style would match her own.
Shoppa also had the opportunity to purchase JW Freeze Frame’s full sister, JW Miz Guyded and decided to send her to Kristin as well. On Saturday Kristin ran a 17.12 to win the round but hit a barrel. “It would have been very exciting to have placed 1st and 2nd on Saturday with the two sisters,” said Kristin. Shoppa plans to take the two sisters home at the end of the year to rodeo on in 2020.
Kristin Weaver-Brown ran 4 horses including two futurity horses, SR Fame Has Perks (King) and TheDarkSideOfTheMoon (DK). Running a fast 17,475 on Saturday, DK took first and SR Fame Has Perks came in with a close 2nd place. While both horses were in the top of the 1D each day, DK came back in the 3rd round winning the Futurity side pot once again with a 17.228, securing the Futurity average win. King, the 2014 stallion by Dash Ta Fame out of a daughter of Dash For Perks came back in the final round strong but got the 2nd barrel. Kristin has been on the futurity trail with the stallion owned by Dave & Missy Spurr of Spurr Ranch. She plans on taking him to the Nolan Watters Memorial race and the Chasin Dreams Futurity to finish out his futurity year before the hit the Derby races in 2020.
Kristin took home $12,847 and has nothing but great things to say about the WCBRA team and finals. Kristin says, “WCBRA finals was just amazing. This is such a big competition with lots of tough horses running for a lot of money and everyone is there for each other and helping. We all are there having a great time and even though we all want to win everyone is cheering each other on. It’s a really neat atmosphere you won’t find anywhere else. I had so many people ask me if I needed help in the final round, it was really nice. The WCBRA crew did an outstanding job running this huge race.”
Saturday night was the top 25 awards banquet for the year end and Michelle Silva took this year’s title by storm, coming in with a total winnings of 26,386 points, nearly 14,000 points ahead of second! The 2019 Year-End Champion won a beautiful Diamond J saddle & a prize pack valued over $10,000. To obtain this goal Michelle went to a race or two every single weekend with her trailer full and said, “I try not to look at points early in the year and never aimed to win the year-end saddle specifically. I love the sport of barrel racing and go to as many races as I can. I also have a large string of horses that I am able to take to a variety of races so I was able to go to a lot of races this year.” Lacey Lockard came into the reserve champion spot for the year with 12,428 points, while Seanna Inderbieten took the 3rd spot with 12,160 points.
The second round on Sunday was no exception to fast times! Michelle Silva and Samson fired off an incredible win with a 16.916 taking home $3,650. Michelle ran a total of 6 horses each day and made all 18 runs clean. She won $13,434 in total being the 2nd highest money earner for the weekend. Michelle says, “To come back Monday in the short round in the top 100 is a pretty cool feeling. I ran 3 of my own Samson, Dalila, and Nikki. The other 3 were friends horses Danny, Chance, and Stoney! They all placed! They were in the 1d and 2d!” Samson ran the fastest time of the weekend! She exclaims, “Pretty good feeling I’d have to say! I just love this horse! I was so nervous while I was running him, while going through the gate he was a fire breathing dragon when I went to step into the arena he was too close to the fence he hit it with his hip. When he took off he kind of stepped funny. I was so worried that he was hurt, the whole time I kept telling myself should I pull up? I just trusted him to tell me if something was wrong. After they announced I ran a 16.9 all I could worry about was if he was ok! He didn’t care he was still a fire breathing dragon coming out of the arena and cooling off as if he knew he was a big deal!”
While it is hard for Michelle to choose a single favorite aspect of the WCBRA finals she says, “It was one of the most professional, exciting, and well-organized races I have ever attended. However, I believe that this was all possible because of the amazing people who put this race on. The entire crew did an absolutely fabulous job from start to finish. Running a barrel race of any scale is hard and often thankless work. I am amazed about how efficiently and professionally this crew was able to put on this huge, amazing event! The crew really is what made this race the great success that it was! Bailey and Taylor Nahrgang should get some kind of special award. They put their heart and soul in this great association to let us all run up against all this great money with these awesome awards couldn’t be done without them two, so hats off to you guys! You sure do ROCK! I can’t thank them enough! Thank you for going above and beyond!”
The third and final round was an exciting event to say the least. They ran each rider from slowest to fastest average times. Building up the excitement towards the last 50 riders to see who was going to be victorious in taking home the Average Champion title. The stands were packed as everyone watched and cheered on each runner going through the alley trying to clinch that top spot. Shelley Holman on Red Hot N Burnin had hit a barrel in an earlier round so were up early but were on a mission to get in that top spot for the round. They nailed it with a blistering 17.073 winning $3,460 but it was Kelsey Hayden and Buhbye that secured the weekend 1D average honors with a 51.619, winning $1869 and making her the highest money earner of the weekend with over $16,000.
Kelsey and her 5 year old Goodbye Lane out of a Holey Sox/ Tiny Patch Bay mare didn’t go in to the first round with much confidence. She explains, “I was not very confident coming in because the last time I ran her in that pen, she was a wild animal. So in my first run at the finals, I just wanted to cruise her through and see what kind of horse she was going to be. I just sat back and let her work, and she surprised the crap out of me clocking her personal best on a standard! She was a 17.1 which was good enough for second in the round. In the second round, I pretty much pitched her the reins and whispered “don’t mess this up” repeatedly to myself until it was over… and she clocked a 17.2! The third round was by far the most anxious/excited/nervous I’ve ever been. I knew I had a shot at it coming into the third round 4th in the average. I decided to just lay it all out there, no regrets. Sent her to first and she inhaled it! Then it was on. I don’t think I took a breath after that cause when I turned third, I was panting and my legs wouldn’t work! She clocked another 17.1 and secured her 1D average win. I wish I could bottle up all the emotions I was feeling and take it home with me to save for later. I’ve never been more proud of myself or my horse than that moment! “
Kelsey and her resilient mare had a rough start getting to this point. Kelsey bought her from Dawson Seeley with Northeast Quarter Horses out of Spanish Fork Utah as a 2 year old and started the mare herself. She ran her as a Futurity horse in 2018, but she got in a wreck February of that year. Kelsey recalled, “I was hauling her to a jackpot and when I got to the race, the back door was open and she was gone. I swear my heart fell out onto the floor. The latch had broken and she had fallen out of the trailer on the way. It was a nightmare. I had to go find her, and that was the scariest moment I’ve ever experienced. I wasn’t sure if she was dead, alive, had broken legs or what! She was running through an orchard and was very beat up. She was off for 6 months after that, which was heartbreaking because she was doing so well! But I was just happy she was alive! She still has some rank scars on her left side, but she is 100% sound! I got her healed up in time to run her at the first Pink Buckle Futurity, and she won about $5,000 out of there. That was a huge win for me, especially because I turned out of my Circuit Finals, which was the same weekend, to run her there. Then I did run her this year at the American semifinals, where she made it back to the second round in the top 35! That was a huge deal for me and that’s when I started to really take her seriously. She came back from her injury stronger, and wasn’t very seasoned at that time! She just wants to win. “
Kelsey ran 4 horses over the three-day competition, and all of them picked up some large checks! Aside from the great ground and efficiency, Kelsey loves the third round and how crazy it gets! She said, “They run everyone slowest to fastest average off the previous two rounds, so the last 50 runs are great watching. The stands are packed, people are screaming, the energy is tangible. It feels like you’re running in a rodeo! It’s hard to get that kind of feeling at a jackpot!” When asked why do you race at WCBRA and what do you think of the organization Kelsey replied “WCBRA is the go-to association to run with. They have so many races in a variety of locations and set ups, so you really have a ton of options. It’s easy to get qualified, the point system for the year end makes sense and is simple to track, and their finals pays ridiculously good. I can’t really say anything bad about it! It’s so easy to co sanction with WCBRA, which is probably why it’s so successful. It would be awesome if more states Co sanctioned with West Coast so more out of state contestants could participate in the finals!”
Serious competition is not all that WCBRA Finals offers its members. Saturday night they host the Pendleton Whiskey Men’s Barrel Race and Shot Race. 15 brave men on someone trusty barrel steed vied for the chance to show off their barrel racing skills hoping to win that champion title. They break them into 3 teams of five and Calcutta them off to the crowd. It gets pretty wild as the stands bid against each other trying to win their favorite team. They take the total time of each team’s runs and add them together with the fastest team’s Calcutta owner winning over $3,200. This fun race never disappoints and is definitely a crowd favorite. After the men’s race the shot race contestants came in. They place a shot of Pendleton Whiskey on each barrel and the rider has to make the barrel pattern while taking each shot. Fastest rider who completes the pattern correctly wins the race, a cash payout and some fun Pendleton swag. The crowd goes wild cheering on each rider as they come running, but only one can be the winner and that was David Lawson this year. David went in there on a mission and he did just that with precision and apparent shot taking skill.
This huge event is not just about the fastest horses on the West Coast. Over 600 riders show up to compete in 5 divisions. Young horses, older horses or just inexperienced horses all have a shot at a lot of money. Each division pays 25 spots and it can be a tight race to claim one of those spots in all 5 D’s. Missy Buchanan on I’m A Regal On Credit (Visa) took home $2,519 on Saturday winning the 4D spot. Missy bought Visa as a three year old from a lady she calls a friend, Kris Gadbois, not really knowing if she could ride that caliber of a horse. Missy explains, “I think I was in shock on Saturday when my friends told me I won! I was so happy, this was our first real win …and at an event like that I can’t even describe how proud I am of my girl. I started entering races when she turned 5 years old and just this year I started asking her for a little more speed, she is seven years old and out of A Regal Choice. She has turned out to be an amazing partner, I am so proud of her and blessed to be able to throw a leg over her.” Missy’s has two favorite parts of the weekend. This was the first buckle that her and Visa have won and watching Missy Spurr ride out into the arena with her family’s support after everything they have gone through recently. She says, “God is good! I just love the entire family and work crew that West Coast Barrel Racing has this is my fourth year attending and they put on an epic finals, to say the least. Bailey and Taylor Nahrgang are amazing people! I just love them.”
The West Coast Barrel Racing Finals is definitely one event that you did not want to miss and it’s obvious that each and every competitor was happy to be there and able to have the chance to win huge checks, great prizes and make memories with friends that will last a lifetime. If you aren’t a member or have not gotten to go to their finals, now is your chance to sign up for a membership and hit the barrel racing circuit so you have the opportunity to see for yourself in 2020 what an amazing event this is.