At press time, Danyelle Campbell was just $10,000 away from securing her third Wrangler National Finals Rodeo qualification and the first in seven years.
But that's not the best part.
What's sweeter is that Campbell's running a 6-year-old mare out of the first horse she ever raised and trained to run barrels. Repete Fame ("Repete") is by leading barrel racing sire Dash Ta Fame and out of Campbell's beloved rodeo mare Hittin Pay Dirt ("Petie"), whom she lost in 2004.
"Running Repete is pretty emotional for me, because she has all of Petie's heart and try and everyone who sees her run says she's just like her," says Campbell, of Beaumont, Calif.
Campbell also trained her other main rodeo mount this year, Pritzi Maker ("Barney"). The 10-year-old gelding is by Pritzi Dash, a bloodline with which Campbell has seen a lot of success.
Raising and training some of the world's best barrel horses proved to be a short learning curve for the Utah native who, because she grew up in a non-rodeo family in the city, learned to train her own horses from the age of 11.
In fact, Campbell's first project, a mare named Pants On Fire, became the fourth-ranked futurity colt in the country in 1994. With those earnings, Campbell bought 6-year-old Howlinatthemoon, and had the 1995 NFR made by the time she turned 18.
As part of a "fun crew" of girls rodeoing in the 1990s that included blonde bombers Molly Powell, Angie Meadors and Sherry Cervi, Campbell enjoyed her early rodeo career. She even made it back to the NFR in 2002, but was always hooked more on the challenge of training.
In fact, over the past 14 years, Campbell has bridged the gap between training colts and winning rodeos like few barrel racers have.
"I do believe a person can do both," says the trainer. "You pick your spots and go to the arenas that suit your horse-otherwise you're wasting your horse and your rodeos."
But she plays no favorites. Campbell is bad to go home to ride colts in July when she's near the top 20 in the world, or turn out of rodeos like Fort Worth to go to futurities. But this season, Repete and Barney are making the decision for her.
Campbell's knack for making winners out of horses with physical and emotional problems is part of her success. She's unlike many trainers in that she doesn't constantly demand excellence from her horses.
"You can't let a horse buffalo you, but sometimes you can let him have his quirks," says Campbell. "I focus on a couple of key elements in my training and other than that, I try to let a horse be a horse."
In fact, one gelding that was diagnosed neurotic turned out so well she recently borrowed him back from new owner Haley Jochims to place at Prescott, Ariz., over the Fourth of July. Then Jochims won the third round at Salinas on him.
Training is Campbell's passion, but if she didn't run barrels, she might be a broadcaster. Plenty handy on a microphone, she called the barrel race at the Calgary Stampede a few years ago for a Canadian television network.
Another side project that works well with her life on the road is her business, Clover D Tack. For a little fun during down time, Campbell makes painted leather belts, purses and tack (www.cloverdtack.com).
Campbell, with the support of Justin Boots, Triple Crown Feed, Cart-A-Corral panels and Finish Line equine supplements, will hopefully have to skip the conflicting World Championship Futurity this December to go to Las Vegas.
And it likely won't be the last time-her next probable winner is a half-sister to Repete named (you guessed it) "Threepete."
For more information on Danyelle Campbell, visit her online at www.danyellecampbell.net.
Placing Second at Logandale, Nevada, in April
Because Barney runs really hard with zero natural rate, you would think I'd use a long-shanked bit. But with him, less is more. Here, I'm running him in a draw gag bit, which promotes a lot of bend and not much "whoa." But the more I handle Barney as I approach my turn, the worse off I am, and he requires a lot of direct pressure with the inside rein to turn.
I really notice myself looking down at the barrel in this picture, which I don't frown on the way some barrel racers do. Because I always have control of my horse's nose and ribcage during a run, I don't think looking down at the barrel will cause me to hit it.
Instead, I like to know where it is at all times, and if I get too close, I simply use more inside rein (yep, you read right) and inside leg to make my horse bend more in the rib cage, forcing the body to become round and move away from the barrel.
Winning the First Round at Redding, California, in May
Even though Repete won the round, this picture shows everything I dislike about her style-her lower front end, flattened head and nose pushed straight out. I tried to train this out of her as a 3-year-old, but when it's time to run, this is her style and it's effective.
Repete had never really liked gag bits, but this one worked great-she won six races in a row, including four pro rodeos. Now I run her in a bit specially made for her by Dave Elliot out of Alberta.
She actually stands just under 16 hands, but she drops so low to turn that she looks small in pictures. And even though she looks flat and maybe even stiff in these pictures, she's generally too bendy on the backside of a barrel, which causes her to get "bound up" and be unable to drive out of the turn. She's really light-mouthed, but is so heavy on her front end in a turn that I like to have some form of shank for leverage to keep her as upright as possible.
Placing Fifth at Tuscon, Arizona, in February
This picture (even though it's not my favorite) clearly shows how I want my horse's body positioned. Repete has her hind leg up underneath to drive through the turn, has her nose tilted to the inside and is set up perfectly to finish the barrel quick and tight.
I like the fact that her head is higher here than normal, but I know it's just because she was trying to stand up on the ground at Tucson, which was harder than at the futurities and derbies where she'd recently been competing.
My main job is to run her two-handed to my turn. In this case, I slowed her down with both reins to help her rate, then dropped my outside rein and guided with my inside.
I train all of my horses to wait for my cue to turn, in hopes of eliminating anticipation. And I pull to the hip (rather than lift my hand up or pull out) because I feel it helps my horses break in the ribcage the way I feel they need to in a turn.