By Jolee Jordan
Eagle Mountain, Utah — The little town of Eagle Mountain is nestled in a big pretty valley just over half an hour south of Salt Lake City. It is a quiet stretch of sage brush and high desert that seems far removed from the very busy Orem-Provo metro area that is just a short drive away.
Though the town has only been incorporated since the mid-1990’s, there is a great deal of history here. Eagle Mountain was once part of the Pony Express Trail and each year the community pays homage to its history with its 10-day Pony Express Days Celebration.
Beginning in 2010, part of that celebration has included a professional rodeo sanctioned by the PRCA and WPRA. Though no facility for a rodeo existed when the idea to host one first surfaced, the community came together in a short time and built a permanent arena in 2014, so that the rodeo and other related events can continue to grow.
The eighth annual edition of the Pony Express Days PRCA Rodeo in 2017 included an added level of excitement as the event was chosen to be one of the Days of ’47 Cowboy Games Trial Events. The Days of ’47 is held annually in Salt Lake City in July and in 2017 will be a million dollar event limited to just 32 competitors; following four performances of semi-final action, Gold medals and $50,000 will be awarded to the winners.
While some barrel racers have already earned their spots in the Cowboy Games through circuit championships, the rest will work their way into the lineup by either being in the top 10 of the WPRA World standings on July 5, being the leading rookie, or earning a spot through the Trial Events or the WPRA qualifying event to be held in July.
Though anticipation for this new event is high—and it will be held just about an hour from Meka Farr’s home in Farr West, Utah—Farr did not have Days of ’47 on her mind when she posted her entry to Eagle Mountain through Procom nor when she competed there on Saturday night, May 27.
“I just try to make it to the rodeo and stay awake,” jokes Farr.
Farr grew up riding horses and found her way into barrel racing because she loved the speed and preferred the clock to a judge. And though she keeps several horses around and trains her own for the most part, she actually works a full time “regular job” during the week.
“I am a customer service rep for Autoliv,” she notes. “We make airbags for cars and I’ve been at the company for 22 years.” In fact, Farr started at the company, which is based in northern Utah, right out of high school, attracted by their offer to help with college tuition. “They have a lot to offer [their employees].”
In addition to her job and her horses, Farr is also mom to five year old Maycie and recently got married as well.
With her plate quite full, Farr missed the fact that the Pony Express Days Rodeo was a Trial Event for Days of ’47 but after posting a smoking fast 17.28 to win in Eagle Mountain, Farr may need to do some more digging.
“My friend who hauls with me some, Stephanie Kunz, was telling me about it,” she admits. “I guess I need to look into it more. I’d like to get qualified.”
In fact, Farr may want to just keep with her current strategy which has the cowgirl focused on a return trip to the Ram Wilderness Circuit Finals Rodeo in Heber City in October. She went to her first as a rookie in 2016 and was blown away by the experience.
“It was a wonderful experience, just phenomenal,” she gushes. “The activities they had for the cowboys and cowgirls and everything they did for us was just amazing.”
“I really hope that I will be able to go back.”
Because of her job, Farr is unable to travel far, concentrating on Wilderness Rodeos closer to home, a fact that may help in an attempt to qualify to Days of ’47 as all Trial Events held in Utah are worth double the points.
The win in Eagle Mountain was special to Farr as it was the first rodeo she attended last season with her gelding Woody.
“I had joined the WPRA several years back but didn’t have a horse consistent enough to go much [before Woody],” she says. Woody is an eight year old who is registered DD Dee Cee; Farr bought him as a yearling from a sale in South Jordan, Utah. She named him Woody because of his personality.
“He was just really goofy,” she laughs. “He could be so naughty and he could be so good. He was so lethargic as a colt that he truthfully was not my favorite to ride. It was such a workout to keep him going and I just thought, he is never going to do this.”
The light bulb went off for the gelding when Farr began adding speed to his pattern.
“He really excelled then,” she says. “He’s got a great gait, he is so smooth. He looks like he is just loping.”
After doing well in aged events and lighting up the super tough jackpot circuit in Utah, Farr decided that Woody had what it takes to go on to the rodeos and bought her card last year, hitting Eagle Mountain as stop number one.
Unfortunately, it was a slightly less than stellar debut: the pair hit the second barrel.
“I think it was a lot of jitters,” admits Farr. “I was thinking, ‘here we go, hope we make the pattern!’”
“It was super tight and we caught that second. But we had a good run.”
After earning more than $11,000 in 2016, the rookie jitters were non-existent as the pair ran in Eagle Mountain for the second time this year. Beating a field that was packed with cowgirls ranked in the current standings and past Wrangler National Finalists, Farr and Woody simply dominated.
“It was super fun,” says Farr. “We got up there early and enjoyed the concessions. The people are all really nice and they do a great job with their rodeo.”
When it came time for the competition, however, Woody was pulling out his less than perfect side.
“He was kind of naughty in the warm up,” Farr says. “I thought, ‘oh boy, hang on!’ He did good, I was really proud of him.”
Farr won $1,332 to kick start her season, landing her in the top 10 of the Wilderness standings with just one rodeo to her total. Perhaps more importantly, she picked up 200 points in the Days of ’47 Trial Event standings, landing second in the current standings.
After a third place finish in Eagle Mountain, coupled with a second in Hayward (CA) a week ago, Ivy Conrado leads the standings for a trip to Salt Lake City with 270 points.
Farr is now gearing up for the busy summer season; the bulk of the Wilderness Circuit rodeos happen across the three months of June, July and August. She has another good horse to run at the rodeos, a gelding she calls Shorty, but says that Woody’s consistency makes him her number one.
“The more he goes, he is starting to turn really hard and he is just so consistent. He knows how to do his job and he just loves running barrels.”
Farr loves his attitude as well and says he will become Maycie’s when he is retired from the rodeo trail; Farr’s daughter can already ride him but has her own horse for now.
“He is such a good, kind natured little guy,” she says.
Farr also gave praise to her network of support on the road.
“I have to say thanks to my friends and family who support me,” she notes. “All the kind words from everyone … it’s so nice because sometimes it gets tough. It’s so kind everyone who congratulates me.”
“The summer is just getting started but I am really looking forward to it. It should be a fun year.”
For more information on the Pony Express Days Rodeo, visit them on-line at www.ponyexpressspecialevents.com and find them on FaceBook.
Below is a list of remaining Trial Events for the Days of ’47 Cowboy Games and Rodeo.
Days of ’47 Cowboy Games Qualifying Trial Events
Schedule as of May 31, 2017
|Old Fort Days Rodeo (Fort Smith, AR)||May 29-June 3|
|74th Annual Santa Maria (CA) Elks Rodeo and Parade||June 1-4|
|Fort Herriman (UT) PRCA Rodeo||June 2-3|
|Days of the Old West Rodeo (Delta, UT)||June 8-10|
|Gladewater (TX) Round-up Rodeo||June 8-10|
|Cedar City (UT) PRCA Rodeo||June 9-10|
|Sisters (OR) Rodeo||June 9-11|
|West of the Pecos (TX) Rodeo||June 21-24|
|Lehi (UT) Round-Up Rodeo||June 22-24|
|Edgewood (IA) Pro Rodeo Days||June 22-24|
|Crystal Springs Rodeo (Clear Lake, SD)||June 22-24|
|World’s Oldest Rodeo (Prescott, AZ)||June 28-July 4|
|Mid-Western Rodeo (Manawa, WI)||June 29-July 1|
|Oakley Rodeo and 4th of July Celebration (Oakley City, UT)||June 30-July 1, 3-4|
|98th Black Hills Roundup (Belle Fourche, SD)||July 1-4|
|Annual Fourth of July Celebration & PRCA Rodeo (Window Rock, AZ)||July 2-4|
|Home of Champions Rodeo (Red Lodge, MT)||July 2-4|
|Killdeer Mountain Roundup PRCA Rodeo (Killdeer, ND)||July 3-4|
For more information visit www.daysof47cowboygames.com.
Courtesy of WPRA