Ashley Lowery, Deseret News
Barrel racer Jody Stark of South Weber laughs in front of her trailer before competing Monday in the Pioneer Days Rodeo at the Weber County Fair Grounds.

OGDEN — Jody Stark knows the risks of rodeo.

On any given night a cowgirl can make a lot of money or, just as likely, go home empty-handed.

Last year the South Weber woman won a state-of-the-art trailer from the National Barrel Horse Association. "We're having a really good year so far," said Stark a few hours before she and her 17-year-old mare, Kat, took on the barrel course at the Ogden Pioneer Days Rodeo. "We've won it for one year, and we're winning it right now."

Unfortunately, Kat was a little sore going into Monday's rodeo, and she blew past the first barrel. Knowing she couldn't win, Stark pulled the horse up and trotted through the rest of the course. Still, she received loud applause from the standing room only crowd.

"We have Spanish Fork tomorrow," said Stark of why she slowed the horse down. She hopes Kat will be rested and ready to go for that rodeo, or, "If not, I've got to go with my colt."

The fastest barrel racer Monday night was South Dakota's Lisa Lockhart, who clocked a time of 17.5 seconds. She is currently ranked 15th in the world standings and was the fastest cowgirl on a night with some impressive talent in the contest.

Brittany Pozzie-Pharr, Texas, is the reigning National Finals barrel racing champion, and she earned a time of 17.65. She set a new record in earnings for a barrel racer last year, pulling down $260,000.

Stark said it was a friend who found Kat for her, and a good barrel horse is hard to find.

"It was just one of those feelings," she said of how she knew Kat would do well in the event. Stark said there isn't much about barrel racing she doesn't love.

"The fun, speed, adrenaline and working with the horse," Stark said. "There are always things to learn. She's taught me so much in the time I've worked with her ... Most of the time if there is a problem, it's something (the rider) is doing."

Rodeo has allowed Stark to see places she might never have traveled to otherwise. "I like the travel, but it does get a little tiring," she said. "Unfortunately, you're usually in a hurry, so you don't get to see a lot of the places you go."

Her goal right now is just to do a little better than she did the year before. Someday she hopes to make it to the National Finals Rodeo.

"You have to have a special horse to get you there," she said. "You'll go through a few horses first."

And those horses can be expensive. A horse of Kat's caliber can cost around $50,000. "Maybe that's why barrel racers are more selfish about sharing their horses," she said with a smile.

Stark said she doesn't plan to quit any time soon, and she's even working on finding her next good barrel horse.

"There is a woman in our circuit who is about 75 years old, and she's second right now," said Stark. I hope to be like her."

Wade Sundell and Bill Etbauer tied in the saddle bronc riding event with 86 points, while Justin Macha earned the night's fastest time in tie-down roping with 8.6 seconds. Alex Dudley, Salem, Utah, won the bull riding event with 86 points.

Casey Martin won the steer wrestling with a time of 3.7 seconds. Justin Engle and Mathew Engle won the team roping with a time of 5.6 seconds. Caleb Bennett, Morgan, earned the night's highest score with 79 points.


E-mail: adonaldson@desnews.com