By Jolee Jordan
Denver, Colorado — The National Western Stock Show and Rodeo has a long and colorful history beginning with the first show all the way back in 1906. Events were held in tents for several years and the rodeo was added to the lineup in 1931. The Denver Coliseum, home of the rodeo today, was built in 1952.
Today, the NWSS hosts the professional rodeo, one of the world's largest horse shows, livestock shows, and Colorado's largest western trade show but one thing that hasn't changed is the mission of the show: to provide college scholarships in agriculture and medicine for rural areas.
Ivy Conrado grew up just north of Denver and lives in the community of Hudson now, just a short thirty minute drive from the NWSS complex. Though she no doubt had been to the Denver Coliseum many times, she came with her own horse for the first time in 2016 as a competitor in one of the year's first big rodeos. The cowgirl took full advantage of the hometown edge in her two runs on Sunday night, January 17 and Monday afternoon, January 18.
Conrado's mount is homegrown CFour Tibbie Stinson, a seven year old mare by Eddie Stinson out of Little Fancy Granny, a mare that Conrado grew up riding and called Racie.
"She was born on our place and my dad trained her," says Conrado of Tibbie, who collected many wins in the futurity ranks with Kelly Conrado before moving to the rodeo world with Ivy. Conrado won the finals in Reno last summer en route to finishing 36th in the WPRA World standings in her rookie season.
Conrado is already ranked fifth in the 2016 WPRA World standings and she's likely to add to the position after her performance in Denver. She posted very consistent runs of 15.35 and 15.33 to push current leader Shelby Herrmann's lead. With 30.68 on two runs, Conrado is second by just three one-hundredths of a second.
The National Western Stock Show and Rodeo is limited to 108 WPRA barrel racers. The cowgirls are split into 9 sets of 12 and each contestant gets two full rounds of competition held during back-to-back performances. The top 12 on two runs will return on Sunday, January 24 for the short round.
Running in the same group with Conrado was Idaho's Kali Parker. Parker rides Tuneful, another highly successful crossover from futurity competition. Tuneful is known by the French name Bonet' around the barn, a name that Parker kept from the mare's previous owners.
"I just never changed it because it's bad luck," laughs Parker. "Plus, I like original names and I'm pretty sure no one will have that. But she gets called "bonnet" a lot!"
Reigning WPRA Reserve World Champ Lisa Lockhart also moved into contention for a trip to the finals with two solid runs on An Okie with Cash, aka Louie. Lockhart is 31.26 on a pair.
Competing during Military Night on Tuesday, January 19, 2006 WPRA World Champ Mary Burger posted the best run of the night. Riding Sadiesfamouslastwords, better known as Mo, Burger ran a perf-best 15.50, good enough for fourth in the first go round.
The team is currently leading the WPRA World standings with better than $13,000 won since the start of the 2016 season back on October 1. They showed the crowd in Denver why they are leading the way, taking the victory lap for the Wednesday afternoon perf as well with their time of 15.61 seconds.
Burger's two run total of 31.11 landed her in a tie for fifth with 2012 WPRA World Champion Mary Walker.
Reigning Badlands Circuit Champ Calyssa Thomas was the star of the Wednesday night performance. Riding D.J., aka TRcashenbadger, Thomas posted a run of 15.54 on her first effort in the Denver Coliseum. She is currently sixth in the opening go round.
Thomas stayed consistent on Thursday, stopping the clock at 15.57 to move into a three way tie with Walker and Burger inside the top 12.
Pueblo, Colorado cowgirl Kelley Schnaufer also moved into contention for a berth in the finals with her two run total of 31.36 seconds. Winning the performance of Thursday afternoon was former Wrangler National Finals Rodeo barrel racer Shelly Anzick. Anzick and Scooter, who is registered Scooten ta Fame, posted a perf best 15.43 to land in a split for fifth for the second run.
The National Western is now past the halfway point with just thirty-six ladies left to run before the field is finalized for the short round. Among the cowgirls yet to compete are the reigning Rookie of the Year Jackie Ganter and Wrangler NFR cowgirls Taylor Jacob, Sherrylynn Johnson, Cassidy Kruse, Jackie (Dube) Jatzlau, Britany Diaz, Jane Melby, Sabrina Ketcham, Kaley Bass and Christine Laughlin.
For more information on the National Western Stock Show and Rodeo, visit them on-line at www.nationalwestern.com and for continuing results, stay tuned to www.wpra.com.
Current Standings: Jan. 20
1/2. Shelby Herrmann, Tees Cee Dees, 15.30
1/2. Dena Kirkpatrick, Kates Always First, 15.30
3. Ivy Conrado, CFour Tibbie Stinson, 15.35
4. Mary Burger, Sadiesfamouslastwords, 15.50
5. Carlee Pierce, 15.52
6. Calyssa Thomas, TRcashenbadger, 15.54
7 Kim Couch, Easy French Alibi, 15.57
8. Lisa Lockhart, An Okie with Cash, 15.59
9. Megan Mariluch, Mr. JB FireFame,15.65
10. Ashley Day, 15.67
1. Parker, 15.27
2. Conrado, 15.33
3. Herrmann, 15.35
4. Couch, 15.38
5. Walker, 15.43
6. Shelly Anzick, Scooten ta Fame, 15.43
7. Jessi Fish, 15.50
8. Thomas, 15.57
9. Kelley Schnaufer, Jess Undeniable, 15.60
10. Burger, 15.61
1. Herrmann, 30.65
2. Conrado, 30.68
3. Parker, 30.95
4. Couch, 30.95
5. Walker, 31.11
6. Burger, 31.11
7. Thomas, 31.11
8. Lockhart, 31.26
9. Mariluch, 31.31
10. Schnaufer, 31.36
11. Dice, 31.47
12. Johnson, 31.51