By Ted Harbin (courtesy San Angelo Stock Show and Rodeo)
SAN ANGELO, Texas—Amberleigh Moore has a lot of faith in her young partner, a 7-year-old mare she calls Paige.
“She’s taking me for the ride right now,” said Moore of Keizer, Ore. “Ever since I fell off, she’s hit a new gear. The rodeos I went to this week – Jackson (Miss.), Belton (Texas) and here – she’s taken off like she did in Vegas, and I’m literally just hanging on for the ride.”
She held on pretty well, circling the cloverleaf pattern Sunday afternoon at the San Angelo Stock Show and Rodeo in a rodeo-best 13.99 seconds. She owns the second-round lead and also sits No. 1 in the average with a two-run cumulative time of 29.90 seconds. It’s all been a whirlwind since she took a nasty spill last weekend in Fort Worth, Texas.
As she came around the third barrel on the afternoon of Feb. 4, the latigo broke on her saddle. Shortly after Paige crossed the scoring line, Moore hit the dirt hard. She is still sore, but she’s been riding with a huge smile on her face. She won the rodeo in Belton this weekend and leads Jackson.
All this coming shortly after her inaugural run at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo, where she earned more than $187,000 in 10 days and catapulted to the No. 2 spot in the final world standings.
“The momentum from last year is carrying over,” Moore said. “After Vegas, she got a month off. She hasn’t slowed down since the first run I put on her. That mare has not backed off one bit.
“This is our third year on the trail, so this is the third time she’s been in these pens. She knows what she’s doing and where she’s at. From 2016 to 2017, she’s just a year older and a year stronger. She’ll be 8 years old in May, and I’ve just let her do this on her own.”
It’s working, and now she’s made her plans to return to San Angelo on Friday for the championship round.
“She took off from the alleyway, and she was smooth and fast,” she said of Sunday’s run. “Last year, I ran a 13.99 and (knocked down) the third barrel to win the second round and take the lead in the average. This year I made up for it. This year I was determined to run clean around the third barrel.
“Last year I didn’t do any good at the winter rodeos. I tipped a lot of barrels. This year is setting up so it’s not so hard later in the year. If you can do well at these winter rodeos, it can set you up so that your summer run is easier.”
In 2016, Moore scrambled to finish the regular season 15th in the world standings, taking the last qualifying spot for the NFR. She’d like to have an easier time making it back to Las Vegas in December, and she knows the road she needs to take. More importantly, she knows that Paige is the right speedster to get her back. She is 14th in the world standings with nearly $11,000 in earnings.
“She’s one in a million,” Moore said her mare. “She gets bored being at home. She likes being out on the road with me.”
It shows in every run the tandem makes.
San Angelo Stock Show and Rodeo
Feb. 3-5, Feb. 10-12, Feb. 15-17
Barrel racing: First round: 1. Tiany Schuster, 15.79 seconds, $4,988; 2. Carmel Wright, 15.84, $4,275; 3. Alexa Lake, 15.85, $3,563; 4. Sharin Hall, 15.89, $3,088; 5. Jill Welsh, 15.90, $2,375; 6. Amberleigh Moore, 15.91, $1,900; 7. (tie) Tammy Fischer and Stevi Hillman, 15.92, $1,188 each; 9. Abby Penson, 15.93, $713; 10. Kassie Mowry, 15.95, $475. Second round leaders: 1. Amberleigh Moore, 13.99 seconds; 2. Brooke Rix, 14.03; 3. Sammi Bessert, 14.15; 4. Cassie Mowry, 14.20; 5. Laura Kennedy, 14.24; 6. Lindsay Sears, 14.24; 7. Kellie Collier, 14.32; 8. Jennifer Arnold, 14.35; 9 Trula Churchill, 14.36; 10. Hailey Kinsel, 14.37. Average leaders: 1. Amberleigh Moore, 29.90; 2. Kassie Mowry, 30.15; 3. Sammi Bessert, 30.16; 4. Brooke Rix, 30.18; 5. Carmel Wright, 30.23; 6. Kellie Collier, 30.37; 7. Morgan Breaux, 30.44; 8. Trula Churchill, 30.47; 9. Hailey Kinsel, 30.48; 10. Shelby McCauley, 30.53; 11. Brittany Kelly, 30.60; 12. Kelsy Lutjen, 30.68.