The Wrangler Horse and Rodeo News

4-05-23 TW Digital

The WRANGLER Horse and Rodeo News is an equine and rodeo publication with circulation in Colorado, Wyoming, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, and South Dakota, Utah and Idaho.

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10 • The WRANGLER • February, 2023 BARREL RACING J oy Wargo is a household name in the barrel racing industry, not only for her phenomenal barrel horse training program, but also for the educational movement she has sparked with the online accessible learning project between herself, Jolene Montgomery and Ashley Schafer; Between The Reins. Of course like many horsemen, Wargo's horsemanship journey didn't start at the top of the mountain, and if you ask how she got into horses, she will jokingly tell you it was really "by accident." "I grew up on a ranch in the southwest corner of Wyoming, over by Mountain View," Wargo explained, "we always had horses on the ranch and I grew up loving them, but it was a train your own horse kind of deal, and when I started I didn't know very much about barrel racing." "What I can tell you is that my first one was not so good," she laughed, "so my parents ended up buying me an older horse that was perfect for me to learn on. As I grew out of that horse, there were two ladies that really mentored me; Wendy Platts and Deana Hamilton. Those two women were the biggest influences I had early on with horses." Wargo would continue to ride horses through high school, improving her skills until she got a horse she could be competitive on at the high school rodeo level. "I got a little better every year, and I had a really nice horse that later allowed me to attend the University of Wyoming on a rodeo scholarship, and from there is where I met my husband, Trent." "Trent knew he wanted to move south a lot sooner than I did, but we both agreed it was something we needed to do, so as soon as we graduated college he took a teaching position in Denton, Texas, and we made the big move and never looked back!" "The weather in Texas is much more conducive for horse training," Wargo explained, "you can ride horses pretty much year round down here, and in Wyoming and the northern states where it is cold 9 months of the year, it is a lot tougher to train horses unless you have an indoor facility for that extreme winter weather." "Originally when I started training horses for myself, I wanted to rodeo. My college rodeo mare got older and wasn't fast enough anymore to compete down here in Texas, and that's how I got started really training horses; if I was going to have another barrel horse that could win, I was going to have to make my own." One horse can change everything. Wargo and her husband, who was a steer wrestler and also team roped himself, had a plan in place; they started buying a couple horses a year and training them. As it progressed, they used the money from those colts to invest back into their program, until they finally got a colt talented enough to put Joy in the barrel racing limelight. His name was Smokin Koa Lena. "I got lucky pretty early on when we started riding futurity horses," Wargo recalled, "Smoke was my third futurity horse, and he was just a freak. He did really well and won quite a bit his futurity year, and I ended up selling him for what was life chaining money at the time. Because of him I had the opportunity to leave my normal daytime job at the dentist office and try and become a real horse trainer." Smoke would go on to win much more over the years, and Joy and Trent would later be given the opportunity to purchase Smoke back. With AQHA titles and American Rodeo qualifications, the big bay horse boasts a long record of wins at both barrel races and rodeos. His lifetime earnings in the barrel racing arena total at $170,000. For those that don't know, Smoke is also an incredible head and heel horse, and these days he enjoys his semi- Between The Reins with Joy Wargo By Sarai Angelle Joy Wargo & Smokin Koa Lena. Photo Credit Bee Silva. Futurity barrel horse trainer Joy Wargo to discuss her horse training journey, and the educational movement behind the latest online learning resource for barrel racers; Between The Reins.

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