By Jolee Jordan
Stonyford, California — The Northern California ranching community of Stonyford is only about 40 miles off Interstate 5, the largest freeway in California, but it’s a drive that can seem a lot longer, especially when pulling a horse trailer, thanks to twists and turns in the very scenic and winding road.
In fact, that short, not-so-short, drive can be a lot like a rookie road for new members in the WPRA, facing highs and lows of competing as a professional for the first time.
Santa Cruz cowgirl Megan Brint has experienced some of those twists and turns already in her new WPRA journey as a rookie in 2017. Riding a horse named Moneys Superman, Brint found the gelding to be more Clark Kent in their first months together than the superhero mentioned in his AQHA name.
“I haven’t owned him very long, maybe six months,” notes Brint. “I bought him sight unseen.”
Though the now 11-year old gelding was an aged and rodeo competition winner in his younger days, he had been spending more time out to pasture in his home in Canada when Brint purchased him.
“I just started entering and ran into lots of trouble,” Brint admits of the early going of their partnership. “He made some good runs but we just weren’t consistent.”
Originally buying Superman with an eye for him to back-up her rodeo horse, Brint was forced to change plans when her mare suffered an injury.
“It really was a blessing in disguise because I was able to focus on him more and figure things out,” notes Brint. “I bought him as a back-up but now he is totally outrunning my mare.”
“He’s a freak,” Brint laughs, struggling to describe the gelding who is by MRH Fancy Money, a stallion by On the Money Red, who has produced multiple NFR qualifiers. “He doesn’t look fast or feel fast but he loves to shut off the clock.”
That fact was evident when Brint braved the long, snaky road to compete in the 74th annual Stonyford Rodeo, hosted by the Stony Creek Horsemen’s Association.
The rodeo is a weekend long celebration that sees the population of about 200 increase considerably; in a town with less than three miles of total incorporated area, the visitors swamp town and, as there is no hotel, everyone camps out at the rodeo grounds. With live music and dancing every night at the local restaurant/bar, the whole town takes on a big party atmosphere.
As a WPRA rookie in 2017, Brint had never been to Stonyford.
“I kept thinking, ‘when are we ever going to get there?’” laughs Brint of the challenging drive. The trip was more than worth the effort, however, as she and Superman posted a run of 17.33 seconds as the third runners in the opening performance.
“I got on too early and he was being bad, just a nervous wreck,” says Brint of her gelding’s behavior during warm-ups. She eventually just dismounted and waited out her chance in Brother Moore Arena.
“He checked up on the first and I almost thought he was going to duck but then he turned it,” notes Brint. After working hard to ensure the gelding made his way all the way into the second barrel, which sets closer to the arena wall, Brint said she actually heard the announcer. “I usually don’t hear anything when I’m running but I heard him say, ‘this horse really loves his job,’ and I knew he was really laying down a run.”
Competing so early, Brint had no way to know how her time would stack up as she exited.
“I didn’t know anything, I hadn’t done any research to see if the pattern was standard or what won it here last year,” she admits. But with a couple of tough cowgirls following close behind her in the competition order, the rookie wouldn’t have to wait long to see where she stood.
In fact, WPRA sixth ranked cowgirl Nellie Miller—who is leading the California WPRA/PRCA Circuit standings currently—ran just a few ladies later, putting up a time of 17.36 to slot behind Brint on the leaderboard.
“That’s when I knew he’d made a good one.”
Having to sweat out a section of slack as well as the final performance, Brint soon learned she’d earned her first pro rodeo victory and $826. She is the leading rookie in the California Circuit standings and moved to 24th in the overall standings as well.
“My goal . . . and I just made this a goal a couple of weeks ago, but my goal is to make the California Circuit Finals this year,” she says. Brint is on a roll with the win in Stonyford but asserts that earning her card was a struggle.
“I actually bought my permit a couple of years ago. I was winning lots before I bought it but then I couldn’t win anything! That was the hardest $1,000 to win but once I filled it, it’s been good.”
Despite her rookie status in the WPRA, Brint is no stranger to competition. She grew up with horses and competed in multiple events in high school rodeo. She was working as a vet tech for a couple of years but took time off to run barrels before she heads back to school in the fall with an eye on becoming an equine veterinarian.
Brint next turns her sites on the Mother Lode Round-Up in Sonora, Calif., and will be competing in another performance.
“I love running in the perfs,” she says. “With my mare, I used to say that she feeds off the crowd but then I hopped on Superman [at Stonyford] and he did the same so my boyfriend and my parents said, ‘yeah, we think it’s you feeding off the crowd!’”
Sonora will be another first-time for Brint as her twisting rookie road continues. She enjoys the support of her family and boyfriend Wyatt to help her through it all.
“He goes with me everywhere. I’m so thankful for that; he’s always there. He’ll drive and I sleep,” she says. Her parents, Andy and Mary, often come to watch her compete as well but Brint insists they drive on their own. “My mom always tells me how to ride. They psych me out a lot so they drive up on their own and don’t come talk to me until after I run,” she teases.
Brint will continue to compete around California, noting that she loves all the little rodeos.
“I’ll probably venture out a little too, enter some bigger ones like Salinas and hopefully Pendleton,” she says. “We’ll see how my horse lines out against the toughest ones.”
For more information on the Stonyford Rodeo, visit them on-line at www.stonycreekhorsemen.org.
Courtesy of WPRA