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Back in the saddle: Barrel racer overcomes painful accident

By Brett Hoffman | Published Wednesday, January 31, 2018
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As barrel racer Amberleigh Moore prepared to compete in the Fort Worth Stock Show Rodeo on Saturday, 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 sports medicine room where injured rodeo athletes are treated.

The injury occurred during a 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.

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 [on Saturday], it was a little bit hairy.”

Moore and her prize horse, Paige, turned in a blistering time of 16.35 seconds – by far the fastest run during the Saturday matinee show. Moore said her time was a surprise because she had not competed on Paige since the Dec. 7-16 NFR in Las Vegas.

“I was shocked when I saw that time,” Moore said.

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 was 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 15th, 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 second 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 [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.”

PBR UPDATE

On the Professional Bull Riders circuit, Ramon de Lima clinched the title at last weekend’s Built Ford Tough Series tour stop in Sacramento. Lima earned 715 points throughout the two-day show that concluded on Sunday. Luciano De Castro finished second with 330 and Cody Teel came in third with 270.

After clinching the title in Sacramento, De Lima is ranked third in the PBR’s 2018 world title race with 750 points. Dena Barbosa, a Brazilian who lives in the Decatur area, is ranked No. 1 with 870 and 2016 world champion Cooper Davis is No. 2 with 820.

This weekend, the Ford Series, which is the association’s top tier tour, stops in Anaheim. The Ford Series tour also stops in Arlington on Feb. 24 at AT&T Stadium. The 2018 PBR World Finals is Nov. 7-11 at Las Vegas’ T-Mobile Arena.

CUTTING HORSE UPDATE

On the National Cutting Horse Association circuit, longtime veteran rider Chubby Turner and a first- year horse named Wanna Dual clinched the 4-year-old open division title at the 39th annual Augusta Futurity in Augusta, Ga., after turning in a score of 220 during the final round. The victory earned Wanna Dual’s owners, the J Five Ranch of Weatherford, the coveted $10,000 prize, according to ncha.com and sallyharrison.com.

In the 4-year-old non-pro division, Ray Baldwin of Fort Worth and Kaitlyn Larsen of Millsap tied for first with 215.5. Each rider earned $5,500.

Brett Hoffman, a Texas Cowboy Hall of Fame member, has reported on rodeos for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram for more than three decades.

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