Beisel, Chongo ready to run

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Emily Beisel rides her gray horse, Chongo, to the finish during their Round 4 victory Sunday night at the National Finals Rodeo.

Cinch cowgirl, her horse have two go-round wins so far at this NFR

LAS VEGAS – Familiarity breeds content, and Emily Beisel’s main mount Chongo is sassy and happy at the National Finals Rodeo.

Despite knocking over three barrels over the course of the first six go-rounds, the two have sped their way to $82,051 in Las Vegas earnings, with a big boost coming from their Round 4 victory Sunday night and sharing the Round 6 title Tuesday. Tipped barrels mean five-second penalties for each, so Beisel has had to adjust her game plan now that the average bonus is out of the question.

“I haven’t had to make much adjustments on his end,” the Cinch barrel racer said of the 12-year-old gray gelding. “He’s felt great all week. He wants to do things right. He’s super honest. He’s trying hard to do right by me.

“The biggest thing to change is me. I was trying too hard to be fast, and when you have a horse like Chongo, most of the time smooth is fast. You can’t outrun a five-second penalty. I should have learned that after Round 2, but I didn’t. Even if it costs me a 10th (of a second) on the clock, I’ve got to get him around the barrels and avoid the penalties.”

They did that Sunday, rounding the cloverleaf pattern in 13.60 seconds to win $28,914 and proved that the NFR atmosphere is the perfect fit for them. Beisel has earned more than $480,000 in her 36 go-rounds. They were 13.57 Tuesday to share the go-round with two-time world champion Brittany Pozzi-Tonozzi.

“When a horse likes an arena, it’s awesome, and Chongo really likes the Thomas & Mack,” said Beisel of Weatherford, Oklahoma. “There is nothing more reassuring than that. When your horse is loving it, all you have to do is your job; you don’t have to worry about theirs.

“As he’s matured and gotten a little older, he’s just being really honest; I’m not having to help him quite as much. I’m having to ride through my turn more. In 2019, you guys saw me pulling a lot more on him. I had a lot different headgear setup on him, (and) I did have to help him finish. His third barrel has been incredible all week long, and that used to be the worst barrel we had together. He’s handling these situations better.”

Now in their fourth trip to the finale, they’ve matured together.

“That experience here makes a world of difference,” she said.

It also helps the jockey’s mental approach to the richest rodeo in the sport. Legendary cowboy Joe Beaver offered Beisel advice years ago about how to handle the highs and lows of rodeo: One must have a short memory; make the appropriate adjustments and move forward.

“You can’t have a horse working like Chongo is working and not get a win at the Thomas & Mack,” Beisel said. “He’s been amazing this week. I just needed to make sure I did my part. He feels as good as he’s ever felt out here, and that’s really important.”


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