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Three Barrels, Two Hearts, One Dream

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Leigh Livingstone. Photo by Desire Aguirre Leigh Livingstone. Photo by Desire Aguirre

Area barrel racing association continues to grow

The Bonner County Barrel Racing Association started in 2002 with five members. According to Rhonda Livingstone, the Bonner County Fair Manager, it keeps getting better every year. In fact, this year, 45 barrel-racers have joined, including six from Bonners Ferry, five from Priest River, and three from Coeur d’Alene. Racers can sign up to run in the Northwest Barrel Racing Association or the National Barrel Horse Racing Association, or both, and compete in the youth (5-18), open, or senior classes.

“We have a senior division,” said Rhonda Livingstone, “but no one will say they are 55 are over, so they ride in the open.”

Lenora Norton, 17, said she has barrel raced for over three years and loves the speed factor. A dedicated participant, Lenora rides almost every day and takes lessons every other week.

“We greatly appreciate everyone who comes out and supports us,” Lenora said. “There’s a saying I really like. It’s three barrels, two hearts, and one dream. The reason I like it is there’s three barrels you turn around, and there’s two hearts, one in your horse and one in you. The dream is to go pro.”

Last year two girls, Mikaela Timmins, 17, from Sandpoint, and Teatta Montgomery from Bonners Ferry went to the national competition in Gillette, Wyoming.

“I know they went because I set 350 barrels at the finals as a director,” Livingstone said.

The girls competed with 540 other barrel racers from Montana, Wyoming, South Dakota, Nebraska, North Dakota, Kansas and Idaho. Makaela won D4 on a pony named Coco, who broke his own record. Teatta won reserve champion youth on a pony named Buck.

“So we walked away with two top awards,” Livingstone said.

Jan Hays, Makaela’s mom, often serves as the announcer at the races. She said that Makaela has done a little bit of everything, including serving as Junior Rodeo Queen for Eastern Washington. Makaela often rides more than one horse, but did best on Coco, a Montana pony.

Shanna Wilson’s 11-year-old daughter, Makaila, began barrel racing this year on a thoroughbred quarter horse cross in the youth NWBRA and NBRA.

“Everybody is so nice and it is very family oriented,” said Shanna Wilson.

BCBRA isn’t just about girls on fast horses chasing cans. Every barrel race has a theme and a cause, like breast cancer. Last year, the riders donated $114 of their earnings from one evening to breast cancer patients in Bonner County. They also sponsored food drives and gave 100 pounds of food to Priest River and almost 200 pounds to Bonner County.

“We give back to something every barrel race,” Livingstone said. “Last year we sent boxes and boxes of supplies to the troops in Afghanistan. These people do a lot to give back to the community. The parents and kids are great people.”

This year, every participant will donate 50 cents to breast cancer.

Livingstone’s 17-year-old daughter, Leigh, rode for breast cancer during her reign as the Rodeo Queen for Bonner County in 2007. Leigh donated all her winnings in the rodeo to breast cancer. This year, Leigh is Miss Pro West, representing all the Pacific Northwest and Canada. She writes articles about cancer and animal rights and is a positive role model for young girls.

The excitement begins almost every Tuesday evening at 6:30. The horses can be a bit high strung, and one rider had to perform an emergency dismount when her horse decided to throw a fit and roll over instead of running around the can. The rider waited for her horse to get up, remounted, and finished the race. The audience cheered her on, and the announcer praised her for taking charge and reminding the horse who was boss.

The barrel racing finals will be held at Bonner County Fairgrounds on August 19 at 2 pm Everyone is invited to come out and enjoy this exciting event.

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Author info

Desire Aguirre Desire Aguirre lives in Sandpoint with her daughter, DaNae, and numerous pets. An LCSC student, she plans on graduating May, 2009, with a bachelors in communication. Her favorite sport is riding her horse, Splash-of-Paint, into the wilderness with Cholo, her son's faithful dog.

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