Cassidy Standley, 11, of Prescott traveled to Las Vegas, Nevada, in December of 2017 to “race among the stars.”
Cassidy was one of 120 cowgirls age 16 and under coming from all across the county, Mexico and Australia to compete in the JrNFR Barrel Race, held Dec. 12-16 at the Wrangler Rodeo Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.
The JrNFR Barrel Race is one of the most prestigious youth western events in the country, and only the top qualifiers earned the right to compete.
Cassidy, who has been barrel racing since age 4, ran the cloverleaf pattern twice for time at the event. Though she didn’t get the time she wanted, Cassidy’s attitude after the event was well beyond her years.
“Not the run that we hoped for, but we learned a lot and it was still fun,” Cassidy said. “Mac (Cassidy’s horse) really tried hard for me.”
The Standley family raises horses and farms west of Creston.
“Cassidy started in the peewee division,” her mother, Amanda, said. “She won the peewees down in Lenox one year, and won her first head stall ... and she just loves it. It’s her passion – it’s her main sport.”
Cassidy qualified for the JrNFR Barrel Race at a race in Topeka, Kansas, in April of 2017. Ten qualifiers in total were held for the event, and only the top five competitors at each qualifier advanced to the Las Vegas race.
“I’ve always loved riding horses – it’s always been my favorite thing to do,” Cassidy said.
The Standleys drove their way to Las Vegas, staying overnight in Rifle, Colorado, at a stable called Tally Ho Shires. The Standleys were pleasantly surprised to find out Tally Ho had previously showed Shire horses at the Iowa State Fair.
“That was a cool coincidence,” said Amanda, Cassidy’s mother. “We didn’t know that until we got there.”
“And it was really cool waking up in the morning and getting him (Mac) ready to go again, with the mountains in the background,” Cassidy said.
After arriving in Las Vegas, Cassidy stalled Mac and was able to practice racing at a facility called Horseman’s Park. The next morning, Cassidy met with all the other JrNFR girls competing, and enjoyed what she described as a highlight of her trip: the opportunity to meet some famous barrel racers.
“It was really cool to see some of the girls I look up to,” Cassidy said. “And then on Tuesday, I got to see the seniors run – so I got to see what it was like there.”
After racing, Cassidy described the best part of the event as simply her chance to be there.
“Just being able to go,” said Cassidy. “Having the opportunity. And seeing all the people get behind me and support me. I want to be a futurity trainer when I get older, and it was just a really cool experience.”
Cassidy expressed many thanks to her local sponsors that made the trip possible.
Her supporters are too long to list, but Cassidy made special mention of Poet Biorefining, KJ Trailers (Cassidy’s first sponsor and grandfather), Petersen Tire, AgriVision equipment, Travis Quarter Horses, Rk Fuels, United Farmers Cooperative, City State Bank and Chat Mobility. Cassidy also sold cookies, raffle tickets and homemade painted American-flag pallets to family and friends to raise funds.
“It was just cool to see the community get behind her, and really support her,” Amanda said.
Cassidy plans to attempt to quality again in April for the 2018 race. She rides, just about daily, at her farm in Prescott in an indoor arena.