By Ted Harbin
Johnson Wins San Angelo, Moves to Top 3 in World Standings
Three runs over three weeks and spread over two arenas served Wenda Johnson well at the San Angelo Stock Show and Rodeo.
A year ago, she finished second in the aggregate, and it was one of the key ingredients to her Wrangler National Finals Rodeo qualification. This year, she did one better by winning the title, which helped shoot her up to third in the world standings as of the end of April with only two rodeos competed at thus far in 2021
“Each time I step on a horse, I work toward the development of the horse,” said Johnson of Pawhuska, Oklahoma. “The monetary gain is an added bonus but not the main focus. However, it was a nice surprise to have additional added money to the San Angelo rodeo this year.”
The committee increased its purse for the 2021 event, which was postponed until April from its typical dates in February. With that, Johnson was the biggest barrel racing beneficiary. She placed in all three go-rounds, winning the second round outright, to win the average. In all, she pocketed $20,856. That’s why she shot up so many spots in the world standings so fast.
Of course, she was running a first-class speedster in Macgyver Moonflash, an 8-year-old bay gelding she calls Mac. He is out of Touched By The Moon by First Moonflash.
“It is an accomplished feeling to win a rodeo like San Angelo because of how well Mac has developed over the last couple of years,” she said. “No matter the outcome, I feel it’s important to be grateful for these opportunities to find joy while doing what you love.
“For me, that is the chance to ride a horse and go fast.”
How fast? She and Mac finished the opening round in 15.81 seconds, just one-hundredth of a second behind round winner Brittany Pozzi Tonozzi. When the second round moved to Foster Communications Coliseum for the performances, Johnson and Mac adjusted nicely. They posted a 14.11 to win the round.
They got even faster in the championship round with a 14.09, but they settled for third place, just two-hundredths behind Carly Taylor and Dona Kay Rule, who finished third and second in the average, respectively. Rule, who also placed in all three rounds, earned more than $17,000 in the west Texas town of 103,000 people.
“San Angelo is an amazing rodeo, and I was grateful to attend,” Johnson said. “It was a fun atmosphere, a wonderful committee and provides the opportunity for any member to advance and compete because it’s not limited.
“It’s great to see the support the fans provide at rodeos. They bring additional energy and encouragement.”
In the 14 months since Johnson’s runner-up finish in San Angelo, she and Mac have been to many places. He’s taken it all in and learned. He even handled some of the challenges that come with competing in the coliseum, which has a holding pen that leads to the alleyway; once there, a large video screen shined brightly on the arena
“The previous year Mac made both rodeo runs at San Angelo as his first rodeo appearance,” she said. “He saw the live video of himself and about stopped but easily moved through the alley and made two solid runs.
“This year he went in focused and ready to run with confidence. It’s an accomplishment to feel how well he is handling the added pressure from the crowd and rodeo setting.”
Of course, when one competes for money, the typical end goal is to qualify for the NFR and eventually win a world championship. That’s not in Johnson’s thought process. Ever the horsewoman, she focuses on the other things she finds important, and that’s working with her horses.
“To me, it’s important to continue to work toward personal goals as well as focusing on the development of myself and horses to stay mentally consistent through the process,” Johnson said. “Consistency is unbelievably important. It plays a big role no matter the competition setting. Most of the time, if you catch a barrel, you lose the opportunity to advance. Efficiency, accuracy and speed are needed to compete at the highest level.”
Wenda Johnson is doing just that, and her win in San Angelo is just further proof of what she and her horses are doing in ProRodeo.