Where’s Ward? On the Road with Loralee (10)


Loralee Ward, Staff Writer

Driving across Kansas gives space for reflection with flat, mundane landscape. I drew up in slack in both Kissimmee and Okeechobee, Florida, on February 16 (the day after putting Dupree down). Without Dupree, I chose to use my young horse Junie. Two runs in one day, however, puts significant pressure on any horse. Junie is not ready to compete at the professional level and certainly not under these circumstances. Fortunately, our friends, the Bledsoe’s, offered to let me use their horse Jetta in Okeechobee. We arrived in Kissimmee late at night, and I snuck into the area to ride around midnight.

I woke up early the next day to ride Jetta before actually competing on her that afternoon. Junie made a slow but respectable run in Kissimmee. I hit the first barrel on Jetta in Okeechobee to be fairly fast. The Bledsoe’s offered me Jetta again for a jackpot in Lake City, Florida, on Saturday. I redeemed myself and placed second, running a new PR on a standard pattern. We stayed at another friend’s house in LaBelle, Florida, until the following Thursday. We left late Thursday morning and drove to Perry, Georgia, for slack. I ran Junie around 11 p.m. on Thursday. Junie showed the tiredness we felt. We left the next morning at 5 a.m. for Admore, Oklahoma, to stay at the Bledsoe’s.

The Bledsoe’s breed and raise barrel and rope horses. On Saturday (2/25), I sat down with Mrs. Bledsoe, and we discussed my future goals. We picked out three horses that might suit me and the Bledsoe’s program. I picked two horses—a five year mare (Elsa) and four year old gelding (Backsteer). I will try to accumulate earnings on Elsa and then sell her at a later date. For Backsteer, however, I get to keep for training throughout the year to prepare for futurities in the fall of 2023. The Bledsoe’s undoubtedly changed the trajectory of this trip.

My door with Dupree closed, but the Bledsoe’s opened another door of opportunities. We are headed home to regroup and start again.