In 2019, just about any coverage of the Cinch Ladies Standings included updates on Kelsey Barry’s not insignificant lead over her cohorts. Her pursuit of the lead began early in the year, when the 27-year-old, 4.5 header from Charlotte, Texas, decided she was going to treat her roping less as a hobby and more as something that deserved her commitment.

When her efforts were rewarded with winning checks, Barry then decided to focus on the USTRC ropings that would support her endeavor to be 2019’s high-money, all-girl roper … and to get some proper horsepower.

[Read more: Leading Lady: Barry Moves to First in the Cinch Ladies Team Roping Standings]

Barry poses with her high money champion saddle by Bob's Custom Saddles. 

Barry poses with her high money champion saddle by Bob's Custom Saddles. 

“I credit a lot of this year and all my winnings to my good horse, Clyde. He gave me a lot of confidence and I kind of learned how to win on him. I never had to worry about him cheating me or just not performing.”

Clyde came to Barry through her father, who purchased the horse for his own transition back into the roping arena, but Barry and Clyde clicked early on.

“We had bought him when my dad started roping again. About a year ago, I rode Clyde in Reno and then I borrowed him for the Jingle Bell Classic in November of last year, when my US earnings started out, and I kind of just never gave him back to my dad. It became a bit of a joke. I started calling him my horse, and my dad would remind me that he never actually gave Clyde to me.”

[Read more: Pre-Finals All Girl Look: Cinch USTRC's All Girl Top 5]

It was aboard Clyde that Barry won the lion’s share of her $37,830 in earnings by June, with a solid five months of prime roping season left until November’s 30th annual USTRC National Finals of Team Roping. What Clyde and Barry could have accomplished in the remaining months is now committed to the unknown.

“I actually lost my good horse, Clyde,” Barry said. “Around June or July, I think, he came up lame kind of on and off and, then he colicked about six weeks before the US Finals. It took me a couple weeks just to get over that. It threw a kink in things and I had gotten used to him being my main horse. I know he was only with me for about a year, but he changed my roping, and it was a big loss for me.”

When Barry did recover from the loss, she set to the task of applying what Clyde had taught her to her other mounts.

“I’ve been trying a bunch of different horses and it’s proving to be pretty hard to find something that clicks with me as much as Clyde, but I have a few other horses that have stepped up.”

As the Finals finally drew near, so did the competition and, for the first time, Barry was forced to consider the security of her top spot.

“At the US Finals, I kind of got a little worried because I wasn’t having the Finals I had hoped for. I wasn’t roping bad, but nothing was really coming together. I got food poisoning that week, so I was struggling all week. The steers were great and I had great partners, but the last day I ended up two holes out a couple times and it was like I could not get anything done. It’s not an excuse, but it was pretty tough that week, so I kind of got worried there, but it all ended up working out.”

Barry even seems to be making strides on one of her new mounts, and had big plans pending as this issue went to press.

“I’m getting confident that it will all work out and that they’ll work out for me, it just takes time to get used to them. We bought a yellow horse from Brooks Dahozy that really stepped up for me and I’ve won about $16,000 on him so far, so he’s kind of my main horse for now. I plan on taking him to Vegas for the World Series Finale.”

She’ll have roped in the #13, #12, #11 and #10, and plans to incorporate more World Series ropings into her 2020 strategy, along with a few other elements that have helped her along the way.

“I’ve had consistent partners all year. I roped with a lot of the same partners all year and they roped great for me. And, my husband, Dustin, doesn’t rope but, he travels with me everywhere. I know it’s not much fun sitting in the stands watching a team roping, but, he does it anyway. I’m very grateful for his encouragement, for helping with this, too.”

When asked if she planned to stay committed to her roping, Barry offered the only acceptable answer in team roping.

“I’m in too deep now!”

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