In The Arena

Barrel Racers on Fire: Meghan Johnson



If you are just now joining us for this series “Barrel Racers on Fire”.. read more interviews here.

So lets start with your background.. tell OTRR Fans about your history in the arena?

I started barrel racing when I was 6 years old on an old foundation bred ranch horse. We were far from fancy, we had a suburban and a white bumper pull. At that age I was having fun and just wanted a ribbon. After I got my first ribbon though the competitive edge set in fast. I progressed onto 4H rodeos when I was 9, I even competed in dressage and hunter jumper for a few years which I believe is where I really learned to ride. I went back to the fast paced events and competed in NM High School Rodeo then right on into college rodeo at New Mexico State University. I have had my WPRA card since I was 18 and this was my first year being a career barrel racer.

Tell us about the horses in your trailer and your relationship with them?

My main horse, Nellie Laveaux “Nellie”, is a 14 year old mare that my mom trained and I seasoned. She is so easy to ride that it really spoiled me. She is a dark chestnut color and has a big white blaze on her. When we bought her as a 4 year old her tail looked like it was cut off. We have tried everything to make her tail grow, but it’s funny when people ask me why I cut her tail all the time.

My palomino mare, Flying Frenchman “Sister”, is 7 years old and is my bad ground horse. She really has an advantage in the shifty, trashy ground because she stands upright on the barrels. Sister is the horse with all the attitude in the trailer. She’s a diva but she is connected at the hip to Nellie, it drives me crazy sometimes!

My new horse is French Dream “Kickin”. He is 13 and has done really well in the rodeo world, even in Canada and at Pendleton. For the rest of the 2015 season I’m trying to just have fun and start clicking with him because Nellie got hurt at Kennewick. But Kickin is a cute little sorrel gelding that has a soft eye but lots of go.

There are many highs and lows on the road, how do you deal with those mentally?

I’m still trying to figure out how! This summer has not been the best compared to winter and spring. I’ve learned that a bad attitude isn’t going to change the situation, whether it’s a blown tire on the side of the interstate or your best horse goes down with 4 weeks left of rodeo. All you can do is pick yourself up and get back in the truck and head to the next one with positive thoughts.

All horses have quirks, what are some of the quirks you put up with from your horses?

Nellie has racetrack quirks, she will start swinging her head around and bob up and down with her front end. It’s nothing scary she just knows when it’s time to start getting ready.
Sister hates closed gates, she will stop but when she wants out of the arena and that gate is still closed she gets pretty sassy. And when she comes out of the arena she is going to go and find a spot she feels comfortable before you get off. But she will always wait until you’re ready before you take off to first barrel.  Kickin hasn’t showed me any quirks yet! He’s pretty easy going!

What do you feel is one of the hardest things about being on the road?

The hardest part about being on the road full time is when it’s not going good, you can’t go home and take a break. You have to show up at the next one and face all these tough girls again and give it your best shot. When you’re just a weekend warrior you can go out for one weekend, make one or two runs, and go home for five more days before your next run. Out here it’s an everyday thing and you don’t get to practice your mistakes all week because you’re driving your tail off across states. That’s what I think is hard to overcome the first year out here.

Stay tuned.. there is more from Meghan! 

Check out the Top 15 Barrel Horse Pedigrees! 

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