Phil Goosetree, husband of 1979
World Champion Carol Goosetree, is critically ill. Phil
has long suffered from the autoimmune disorder myasthenia
gravis. He is currently in critical condition the ICU
at St. Antony's Hospital in Oklahoma City. Please keep
him and his beloved wife Carol in your prayers.
seems that Dobre was destined to be a champion. When
the coal black gelding arrived in Carol Goostree's barn
as a 2-year-old, he was known only by his registered
name: Mister Flicka Bob. Out of Miss Flicka Bob, a mare
by Bobs Folly, and owned by Goostree's father-in-law
Floyd, Mister Flicka Bob went into barrel horse training
without a barn name.
"I was trying to think of something
to call him and Mister Flicka Bob just didn't come off
the tongue right," says Goostree.
Goostree, not yet a member of the
Girls Rodeo Association (later to be renamed Women's
Professional Rodeo Association), was friends with GRA
members Gail Petska (1972-73 WPRA World Champion) and
Martha (Tompkins) Wright (a qualifier to the 1971 NFR).
She greatly admired both ladies' horses, Petska's Dobie
and Wright's Breeze. She decided to combine the two
"I wanted him to be great,"
she explains naming Dobre (pronounced Doe-bree) after
two other great barrel horses. "He certainly lived
up to all my expectations."
Dobre was a fast learner and Goostree
says the colt was "basically ready" to start
entering at the age of three. In 1972 the Texas Barrel
Racers Association (TBRA) had just begun hosting futurity
competitions and Goostree had intentions of entering
her young horse, until an injury prevented the pair
"I couldn't take him but that
was actually very fortunate," she admits. "It
gave him time to fill out and grow."
In the colt's 4-year-old year, Goostree
began competing at some TBRAs and finished the season
in that association's top 20. She would continue to
dominate at the TBRAs for several years.
"We went to the TBRA round
up and Dobre ran with and beat some of the toughest
horses out there," Goostree remembers. "That's
when I knew I had a gold mine."
Describing the 16 hand gelding as
alert at all times, gentle (if handled correctly), and
willing to please, Goostree says Dobre was phenomenal.
"Wonderful!" she describes
his personality. "He just wanted to do what you
wanted him to. He was the kindest horse."
After several years in the TBRA,
Goostree made the decision to join the GRA.
"I probably ran Dobre longer
than I should have at the TBRAs," she says. "My
husband and I both worked and we really couldn't take
off to travel far to rodeo. And I was making money at
Goostree and Dobre made an immediate
impact on the ranks of the GRA, although the transition
was not 100 percent smooth.
"I had to season him to running
in buildings, because he just hadn't been in very many
in the TBRA," Goostree says. The gelding was known
to be outstanding in the outdoor arenas but he soon
figured out the indoor set ups as well. Goostree remembers
that he could run in any conditions.
"I never worried about ground
with him; he would change his style to fit the ground,"
she says. "He could run on grass."
In 1978, she collected more money
in the regular season than any other barrel racer. With
$29,651 in regular season earnings, Goostree was named
the GRA Rookie of the Year.
For three years from 1976-1978,
World Championships were determined only on money won
at the NFR. Though she had a $6,500 lead over second
place entering the NFR, a huge lead at that time, Goostree's
advantage was wiped away in the sudden death format.
"I had won more than anyone
ever had but we all started from scratch," Goostree
remembers. "We had 11 go rounds that year and in
the 10th round, Dobre just barely brushed the second
The penalty cost Goostree the world
championship. She finished second behind Lynn McKenzie,
another rookie and the only WPRA member to win the world
championship as a rookie without winning the rookie
"It really left a bitter taste
in my mouth, to be honest," Goostree describes
her disappointment with the format. In fact, she nearly
quit professional rodeo. But prorodeo leadership soon
announced that they would return to adding NFR winnings
to regular season winnings for championships in 1979
and she decided to stay with it.
In 1979 Goostree and the incredibly
consistent Dobre hit the road. Goostree recalls entering
around 110 rodeos and placing in over 100 of them on
her then 10-year-old partner.
It's understandable that Carol Goostree
gets emotional when she talks about her equine partner.
"People will never know what
a thrill he was to ride at the first barrel," Goostree
says, choking up. "You could take it at any angle,
just as hard as you could drive him, and you knew he
was going to turn.
"He was just phenomenal. He
was almost in a class all by himself."
In fact, Goostree was becoming well
known on the rodeo road for her hard drive into the
first turn. She remembers running from the top of the
hill at Albuquerque (when it was run from the rough
"I always needed a good run
to the first, especially in the buildings," she
says. A group of saddle bronc riders were moving back
and forth in the alleyway, saddling their horses in
preparation for their competition. "When they called
my name, all of them just sucked back against the wall
because they knew I was going to come running."
Goostree developed a style of riding
to accommodate the big gelding's power in the turns.
Saying that many people questioned why she looked down
at the ground in the turns, she says she did it to save
"He was so quick leaving the
turn, and so stout that if I didn't keep my head down,
he would jerk my head and neck," she explains.
"I didn't keep my head down once and I got whiplash!
I still have neck and back trouble."
Goostree and Dobre charged through
the 1979 season and the NFR. They collected $43,100,
the first to earn more than $40K in a single WPRA season.
They were the WPRA World Champions.
Goostree began her title defense
in 1980 but it would prove to be a difficult year. She
and Dobre collected $2,054 for winning the Houston Livestock
Show and Rodeo, beating 100 entries. On March 5 of 1980,
she became the first woman to be featured on the cover
of the ProRodeo Sports News (PSN).
In April, she competed in the Copenhagen
Skoal Rodeo Superstars, a bracketed competition that
matched competitors over two runs. Held in Fort Worth
with 16 participants, it took eight runs to win the
championship, four of which came on the final day. She
emerged the champion and pocketed $18,500-the largest
single check in professional rodeo at that time.
At the start of the summer, Dobre
became sick with a virus. Though hauling was limited
for half the season, Goostree still finished with nearly
$35K won and was third in the final world standings.
1980 would mark Dobre's last appearance
at the NFR. In an era before laser therapy blankets,
joint supplements, and injections, Dobre ran on "good
feed, good care, and heart." Goostree remembers
that the only "maintenance" that barrel racers
used was to run a horse on Bute, something she only
tried once with Dobre.
"He no doubt would have lasted
a lot longer with injections and supplements, everything
that's available today," Goostree says. "I
retired him at the age of 13 because of his hocks. I
didn't want to run him on Bute and take chances with
Goostree retired from full time
hauling along with Dobre but she didn't leave the sport.
She continued to train great horses, including I Mite
Be A Bug and Red Pepper Baron, owned and ridden by Melissa
Hubier, who qualified for the NFR in 1996, 1998-99.
Goostree also trained for 1994 NFR qualifier Mindy Schueneman.
"I still compete a little,"
says Goostree, "and I love to train horses. But
I didn't haul down the road after I retired Dobre. It
just wasn't nearly as much fun as it was when I had
Dobre lived out his life with Goostree,
passing away in 1997 at the age of 28. In his professional
career, Dobre amassed earnings of $322,000 and won nearly
every major rodeo, including the Cow Palace, El Paso,
San Angelo, Houston, and two wins at the Cheyenne Frontier
"I was definitely attached
to him," Goostree says. "I've had lots of
good horses in my life but they just weren't Dobre.
He was my one great horse. I will never have another
one like him. He was the kind you dream of."