Original Publish Date April 2015.
Allison and Jeremy Young have three barrel-racing daughters: Hannah, 15; Kallee, 7; and Jolee, 5. They live on 240 acres in Benton, Louisiana, in the northwest corner of the state. They run 26 head of cattle, including a “nice bull,” according to Kallee, and 7 head of horses. Dad Jeremy owns a dredge company and helps to keep the Red River navigable.
The Youngs came to the Louisiana Barrel Horse Association championships in Gonzales, Louisiana, in March. All three girls and their mom Allison run the barrels. Dad Jeremy doesn’t compete, but, as he says, “I’ve owned horses all my life!” The family camps in their living-quarters, 4-horse trailer.
Why would the Youngs travel long distances and put wear and tear on a rig, haul and care for four horses, and pay fees for four riders to enjoy a few seconds of thrills?
Allison answers: “We love the family time together. It’s a very good experience for the girls and myself.” She explains that Hannah, Kallee, and Jolee learn valuable life lessons. “They learn responsibility: how to care for their horses. They learn to be athletes. They learn to be fearless when it comes to trying new things. It keeps their minds off boys, drugs, and TV. And getting ready for competitions keeps them occupied during the week. They know they have to train.”
The girls are eager to talk about their horses. Jolee rides Tilley, a sorrel with a flaxen mane and tail. Tilley can be naughty. “She bucks,” says Jolee. “And sometimes rears!”
“No, she doesn’t rear!” says Allison.
Jolee insists that Tilley bucks, at least. “I don’t fall off,” she says.
Kallee’s horse is actually named Buck, but he’s a buckskin, not a bucker. “He does nothing naughty,” says Kallee.
Hannah rides Snickers, a bay. She outgrew her old horse and received Snickers as a Christmas present last year. She says that what she loves about barrel racing is “the rush.” She admits to being a little nervous just before she gallops in: “I’m just scared I’m going to hit a barrel.” Hannah says that the horse’s shoulder or the rider’s knee is what usually knocks over the barrel. “In DeRidder in 2009 I hit the third barrel and it made an indentation on my leg. I didn’t feel it until afterwards!” She still has that groove.
Hannah’s most memorable run was at “Gobble Up the Cash” in Marshall, Texas. “I was a few holes out of the money, but I got my fastest time ever, a 15.3.” Allison explains that a fast time in one arena or under one association’s rules for situating the barrels might be a slow time in other circumstances. “Last night, for instance, in this arena, I ran a 15.1 with a few mistakes,” says Allison. “I compete against myself. Today I hope I can make a 14!”
Hannah says that her dream is to go to the National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas someday. She has already competed at the Youth World in Georgia and at Better Barrel Races in Oklahoma City. Allison says that Martha Reyenga, also of Benton, puts on big barrel races in Marshall, Texas, and gets them “BBR approved.” “She does a great job,” says Allison.
Hannah admires barrel racing stars Charmayne James and Sherry Cervi. Allison looks up to Jolene Montgomery and Patricia Duke. Allison, who trains and tunes up all the Young family horses, is interested in accomplishing what the futurity trainers do: giving 3 and 4-year old horses a solid, winning foundation. “Most futurities are a ways away from Benton,” she says. “The main futurity is in Oklahoma City, but going there is worth it!”
Allison sums up the lessons she hopes her daughters are learning: “Have big dreams. If you don’t try, you’re never going to do it! Have fun and do what you love.”