As world class barrel racer Amberleigh Moore prepared to compete in the Fort Worth Stock Show Rodeo on Saturday afternoon, she had to work through fearful thoughts.
That’s because she had a painful accident at the Fort Worth rodeo a year ago. After completing a solid second-round barrel racing run to clinch a final-round berth, her saddle cinch broke right after she crossed the finish line.
Moore’s horse reacted and she fell onto the arena floor. Knocked unconscious, Moore woke up in the Justin Sportsmedicine room where injured rodeo athletes are treated.
The injury occurred during a Saturday matinee performance, several hours before the final round. But Moore toughed it out and made a final-round run that was fast enough for ninth in the overall title race.
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Moore, a two-time Wrangler National Finals qualifier, had to overcome an onslaught of flashbacks as she readied herself to make a first-round run at the 2018 Fort Worth Stock Show on Saturday afternoon at Will Rogers Memorial Coliseum.
“Even through we’re pros, it’s still there. You still remember,” Moore said of her accident. “After falling off last year, when I was running down that alley today, it was a little bit hairy.”
Moore and her prize horse, Paige, turned in a blistering time of 16.35 seconds, which by far was the fastest run during the matinee show. In all likelihood, the 16.35 will earn Moore one of the bigger paychecks in the first round.
Moore said her time was a surprise. She had not competed on Paige since the Dec. 7-16 National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas.
“I was shocked when I saw that time,” Moore said of the 16.35.
But Moore said one of Paige’s biggest strengths is her enthusiasm.
“She just enjoys her job,” Moore said. “Every year, she’s gets a little stronger and a little more confident. She also knows where she’s at. When she got here today at Fort Worth, she knew where she was at. You could tell she was excited to be here.”
For years, Moore has trained horses for the barrel racing Futurities, which can be a lucrative business for trainers who thrive on bringing up younger, beginning barrel racing horses. But when Moore came up with Paige four years ago, she concluded that the horse effectively could compete on the rodeo circuit.
“My theory that I wasn’t going to do it until I found the one who fit me who could take me down the road and do it right, and Paige is it,” Moore said. “She’s my dream horse.”
In 2016, Moore qualified for the National Finals ranked No. 15, which is the last slot. She attracted attention when she got on a roll at the Las Vegas championships and earned $187,692. During the 10-day rodeo, she jumped from No. 15 to No. 2 in the Women’s Professional Rodeo Association barrel racing world standings.
Moore said she was surprised she fared so well at her first NFR.
“I came in with no expectations, no promises, nothing,” Moore said of competing at the 2016 NFR. “Every run that I got to run, it was just building on what she [Paige] could do for me. I think she surprised me as much as she surprised everyone else.”
During the 2017 NFR, Moore, who is from Keizer, Ore., earned $120,000, which helped her finish fourth in last year’s world title race with $240,806.
Thanks to 8-year-old Paige, Moore has become a pro barrel racer to be reckoned with. She said her horse’s greatest attribute is confidence.
“She goes in and gives me the same run every time,” Moore said. “I don’t have to question what’s she’s going to do.”