PHILIPSBURG – When it comes to running barrels in the Northern Rodeo Association, nobody does it better at the junior level than Philipsburg’s own Rachel Ward.
Ward claimed the 2019 NRA Junior Barrel Racing title last weekend, beating second place Paige Palin by more than $200 in the final standings
Ward – who is also a member of the Granite Lady Prospector Volleyball Team that claimed the No. 1 seed in the 12C District Tournament this weekend in Twin Bridges – has been with her horse Cricket for four years. She first rode her out during the fall of the 2014 season before riding her full time starting in 2015, the same year she got saddled by the NRA.
“She tries her hardest every time you get on her,” said Ward of her relationship with Cricket. “She kind of protects me so I take care of her.
“Not many horses can keep their energy and consistency as they get older, but they’re out there. Cricket it one of them.”
Ward indicated that the bond with Cricket was deep as they two see each other daily. When they practice, they do so in a barrel patch across the road from their family ranch.
Ward’s title was won as she made a mad dash over the final three rodeos of the NRA season. Palin was leading Ward $1779.84 to $1,669.20 before the Hamilton Rodeo Aug. 30-31. Ward claimed second in the event with Palin not cracking the top four. Her winnings of $194.40 slipped her into first place with two events to go.
A day later Ward was riding to a first place finish at the season-ending Helmville Rodeo. Toss in her seventh place finish at the NRA finals last weekend in Kalispell while Palin sat dormant and the title was hers.
The Helmville Rodeo, held annually over Sunday and Monday of the Labor Day weekend, won two honors at the season ending awards ceremony. The local event was recognized as the Gold Rodeo of the Year and as the Most Improved Rodeo.\