Dec. 5th UPDATE: Competition at the NFR kicked off last night in Las Vegas, and the results of Round 1 are in! Click here to see where Michele and Slick ended up in the standings.
By: Brittany Bevis
Our readers are familiar with Highpoint Performance Horses for their success in the all-around pen, specializing in events like western riding, trail, pleasure driving, and hunter under saddle. However, what some people might not know is that their reach extends into the rodeo world as well.
Two of Highpoint Performance Horses’ barrel racers, Slick By Design and Kellies Chick, will be running under the expert guidance of Michele McLeod at the upcoming National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas. Fresh off their Thanksgiving break, Charlie Cole and Jason Martin, are headed to Sin City this evening to meet up with McLeod and “Slick” to prepare for the first set of practice runs.
For those not familiar with the NFR, it is considered to be the richest rodeo on earth with over 5 million dollars in prize money to be paid out over ten rounds of competition. Events include barrel racing, bull riding, tie-down roping, saddle bronc riding, team roping, steer wrestling, and bareback riding.
Not only did Highpoint Performance Horses’ 2007 stallion, Slick, make the Finals, McLeod will be riding another one of their horses, that has had considerable success this year, as well.
“We actually have two horses running this year,” Cole says. “We have Slick, and then we have a really great mare that won the Sweepstakes at the Congress [Kellies Chick].”
McLeod piloted Kellies Chick to a win in the second go-round of the Wenger Barrel Racing Sweepstakes and a second place finish in the Finals to win the average and Congress Champion title at the recent 2013 All American Quarter Horse Congress.
Not to be outdone, Slick has been having an amazing year as well claiming nine Pro Rodeo Championships and seven Pro Rodeo Reserve Championships in 2013. Although Slick is only six years old, he has already accumulated lifetime earnings over $185,000. That total is only expected to grow if McLeod and this dark horse can rise to the challenge during the ten-day event.
If early predictions are any indication, McLeod may very well race home with a World Championship title at her first trip to the NFR. Spin To Win Rodeo recently released their picks for the barrel racing competition, which list McLeod and Slick in the top spot.
“She had a stud that she did very well with in the past, so I knew she could handle riding a stud,” Cole says. “Their styles fit together very well. There are 15 girls and 15 horses, and they can only ride one horse a night. We will start out with Slick, because he’s been having such an amazing year.”
“They ride in reverse order, so since Slick and Michelle came in third, they will be the thirteenth to run on the first night [Thursday]. It pays $20,000 to win each go-round and $50,000 to win the average, and the average pays to eighth place. The lady that won the barrel racing last year walked away with $140,000.”
How did all-around aficionados like Cole and Martin become interested in the world of barrel racing? As it turns out, competing against the clock was a welcomed change from showing solely in judged events.
“We’ve always done the all-around, and I was getting a little bored,” Cole says. “In 97 or 98, I was thinking about getting a reining horse, but then all of the events I do are judged… I had a friend that had a barrel racer and thought that might be fun. I’ve had several barrel horses over the years that have been very successful.”
“It’s fun to go fast. It’s a rush. I do barrels and Jason and I both do pole bending, but this is just a hobby, we don’t train other people’s horses. It’s amazing that Slick and Michele could take home a World Championship at the NFR…”
Stay tuned to find out how Slick and McLeod fare during the first night of competition and root for them live by watching the NFR on Great American Country, December 5-14, at 10/9 C. Click here to learn more about Slick by checking out his ad in the most recent Equine Chronicle. Also, visit his Facebook page by clicking here to keep up with Slick’s adventure at the NFR.
Good luck Slick, Michelle McLeod, and Highpoint Performance Horses!