EDITOR’S NOTE: This story appears in the October 2011 issue of Women’s Pro Rodeo News, the official publication of the WPRA.
Arena records are starting to become a regular occurrence for Sydni Blanchard and Firewater Fie.
Can arena records get old?
“No, not at all,” said a smiling Blanchard, whose most recent conquest came at the Ellensburg (Wash.) Rodeo, the final
stop on the 2011 Wrangler Million Dollar Tour, where she and Shotgun posted a 16.91-second run in the short go-round en route to the average championship.
It was the second arena record set at a tour rodeo this season – Blanchard had a 16.99-second run to win the Lea County Fair and Rodeo in Lovington, N.M.
“Lovington and Ellensburg are a lot alike,” said Blanchard, who is fighting for her second straight qualification to the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo. “None of the barrels are in the walls, and the ground was similar.
“I just think my horse feels good, and it shows. He gives me all his heart. He tries with all his heart every time he runs.”
Blanchard won the first go-round with a 17.36-second run on Shotgun, her 9-year-old gelding out of Whisper of Magnolia by Nonstop Firewater. The tandem didn’t earn a check in the second round, but they blew away the field in the short round, a half second ahead of second-place finisher Tammy Fischer.
The exclamation point came in the form of a 51.95-second total on three runs to win the average. Oh, and then there’s the matter of the $6,400 Blanchard used to move into the top 15 in the world standings.
Fischer, meanwhile, moved a little closer to this year’s Wrangler NFR. Besides finishing second in the short round, Fischer and Roundpen also placed second in the aggregate in 52.73. Named Easy Dash Oak, Roundpen is a 16-year-old gelding out of Easy Little Oak by Victory Dash.
“He worked great,” said Fischer, a five-time NFR qualifier from Ledbetter, Texas. “He got a little better every time. The first time it was pretty deep. The second round the ground was a little hard, but he adjusted.”
It worked out quite well for Fischer, who won $4,247.
“Ellensburg was a very important rodeo for me,” she said. “It kind of counted double, because it’s a tour event and I wanted to get to Omaha. Plus it’s crunch time, and we’re doing everything we can to make the NFR.”
Fischer said her year has been filled with highs and lows. Roundpen had gotten hurt, so she rode her main horse, MP Quick Money, until June. Then Money, an 8-year-old gelding out of Quckern A Wink by Frenchmans Hayday, got hurt at about the same time Roundpen came back to healthy.
“So I had a fabulous summer,” she said.
The time in the Northwest has meant being away from her southeast Texas home, but Fischer kept tabs on the nasty wildfires that had damaged so much. Her home was still 40 miles from the blazes, so she kept her mind on her business; of course, it helps having two outstanding horses.
“I have never wanted a backup horse in my life,” she said. “I feel like I have two good horses when I ride. I decide what horse I want to use when I enter a rodeo, then when I get there, that’s the horse I use. Money’s young and a lot less experienced than Roundpen, but he’s a great horse.”
While Fischer has two great partners, Blanchard relies on Shotgun. That turned out pretty well in Ellensburg.
“I know a lot of people who say that when they have a really good run, it just feels smooth,” she said. “Sometimes you can make mistakes in an excellent run like that and still clock fast because it’s so smooth.
“That’s the way it is with him. The main thing I really notice is when he’s fixing to do well, he can pick up another gear on the way home. He just makes up a lot of lost time. In Ellensburg, he just took off out of that third barrel, and I knew it was going to be fast.”
The tour is important primarily because those events offer a large prize purse, but also finishing well means qualifying for the Justin Boots Playoffs in Puyallup, Wash., and the Justin Boots Playoffs in Omaha, Neb. For Blanchard, the entire rodeo season is more about living a dream.
“This is such an experience, and I’m so happy,” she said. “It’s something I’ll always have. This year has been phenomenal with him. It’s something we’ll be able to keep forever. I’m not thinking about having to win to make the finals. I just feel that I’m blessed and happy to be here.
“It’s not in my hands, really. It’s in God’s hands, so I let whatever’s going to happen happen. Ultimately I’m just having fun. If it’s not fun, then why do you do it?”