brittney-barr-braumbi

Handicapped with Heart: One-eyed barrel racing horse

Brittney Barr’s horse may be handicapped, but a rodeo fan would never know it in the arena. The Ada, Oklahoma cowgirl’s horse has only one eye, but it doesn’t affect his work.

Brittney Barr rounds the barrel at the 20th annual International Finals Youth Rodeo in Shawnee, Okla. She rides Braumbi, an eight year old gelding who is missing one eye. Photo by Phifer/Rodeobum.com

The eight-year-old grulla named Braumbi had his eye kicked out when he was in a pen of studs at the age of three. Even though he was a good horse, after the injury he was nothing more than a “yard ornament,” Brittney says, and her family bought the gelding.

Her dad rode him to season him, and when she started taking him to rodeos, he spooked often. Anything outside the arena freaked him out: loud music, the bulls in the pens, long, dark alleyways into the arena.

She took him to his first barrel race two years ago and the long, dark alley into the arena freaked him out. Brittney didn’t want to run him, but her mom made her do it. After the weekend was over, she had won third place in her division and $1700. “I thought, ‘I’ll keep him for awhile,’” she laughed.

Brittney is in her second year of competition at the International Finals Youth Rodeo, and she’s ridden Braumbi both years. She also competes in a few Oklahoma High School Rodeo Association events and in the Mid-South Rodeo Cowboys Association.

With his handicap, Brittney has to be more cautious with him outside the arena. “If it’s something he hears, he’ll spook. Sometimes, if I’m loping, he’ll hear something and run the other way.”

Braumbi has a lot of heart, Brittney says. “I know that if I don’t come to ride, he’ll take care of me.” People ask her how he sees the first barrel, to turn around it. “I go to his blind side first. I don’t do a thing, he does it.” Outside the arena, “he’s a mess. He’s a handful.” But in the arena, it’s a different story. Once he’s in the arena, “he’s never failed to work.”

“I just sit down (in the saddle) and he’ll wrap it up. I hold on tight.” Brittney is the daughter of Nancy Wells and Jim Barr. She will be a junior at Latta High School in Ada, Oklahoma this fall.

The International Finals Youth Rodeo continues with performances on Wednesday night and Thursday and Friday, at 9 am and 7:30 pm each day. The top 15 in each event compete at the short go-round on Friday night at 7:30 pm, when 2012 IFYR Champions are crowned.

For more information on the IFYR, visit http://www.ifyr.com or call 405-275-7020.