Some day, like any good cowgirl with the right amount of sand to her, Lindsay Jensen wants to gallop out of the chute at the Thomas and Mack Center in Las Vegas and circle those barrels against some of the best riders in the world.
First she’s got to qualify for the National Finals Rodeo and that by itself ain’t no piece of cake at a Sunday picnic. Yet a girl’s got a right to dream, to have goals, don’t she.
Lindsay has a couple of them. Right now it’s gettin’ a mare named Doc of the Bay ready for competition in something called the Extreme Retired Racehorse Makeover. Lindsay was one of 12 trainers in the nation – the only Minnesotan – selected to compete in the event, scheduled for Aug. 2 in Negley, Ohio. All contestants must compete with retired thoroughbreds that once raced on the track. They have approximately 100 days to prepare their horses. The competition includes a freestyle event and a barrel race.
Lindsay is in dire need of sponsorship money to defray the costs associated with this endeavor, primarily feed for the horse, who also needs some dental work. “All my sponsors get lots of recognition,” she said. “I wear their patches on my shirt through all of the rodeos and the competition when we get there.”
So far, Doc of the Bay has taken to new occupation enthusiastically. “We’ve been loping a pattern and she totally digs it,” Lindsay said. “She gets a little hyper before we work, but she’s doing really well. I’ve been working on her spins and fast rollbacks. She’s pretty much a dream to own. She wants to work and is pretty mellow for a horse that was at the racetrack until she was five.”
Doc runs under her registered name but around Lindsay she is known as “Porsha.”
Her looks and demeanor account for that. “She’s a sassy, fun girl, and the name “Doc” does not do her justice,” Lindsay explained. “Porsha seems to fit her better and is more of a girl’s name.”
Doc, or Porsha, is on the smallish size. She goes about 14.2 hands. “Some people like more of a Western horse that gets low in the turns, but I like more run in them,” Lindsay said. “Quarter horse or thoroughbred.”
Although Lindsay prefers horses that aren’t “too big,” size doesn’t seem to be an issue when it comes to circling the barrels. “No, it doesn’t,” she said. “Obviously shorter cannon bones are better for barrel racing, but I’ve seen horses 17 hands run fast barrel times. Some people think they have to be little, but they don’t.”
Lindsay started riding as a youngster with hunter/jumpers. “I did that from about eight until I was 16,” she said. “I climbed through the ranks with a lot of nice horses.”
She grew up in Corcoran and went to Buffalo High School. She started competing in barrel racing and the rodeos in college, at Northwest Oklahoma State. She’s been barrel racing since and competes in up to three rodeos a weekend on the Great Lakes Circuit, traveling to sites in North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa, Nebraska, Missouri, Wisconsin, Michigan and Minnesota.
She didn’t find her time in college fulfilling, studying agriculture/business, so she returned home and has been in one aspect or another of the horse industry since, giving riding lessons, teaching barrel racing, hunter/jumping, breaking horses, training horses… you name it.
She and her mom, Kris, started a business about six years ago at Rush Meadow Farms. “The last three years we really made it a business said Lindsay. “We work our tails off.”
She works with first-time riders, although her mother usually handles the beginners and then hands them off to Lindsay. Some days she works with hunter/jumpers, others with barrel racers. “We have some nice school horses, but I give lessons on everything I own,” she said.
It’s pretty much a sun-up to sun-down job; when Lindsay’s not giving lessons, breaking a young horse or tending to the never-ending chores associated with horses, she works with Porsha, tuning her for the upcoming competition in August.
Doc of the Bay is a 2006 foal, bred by (Minnesota’s) Valene Farms in Louisiana. She is by Doctor Mike from B.J.’s Delta Pro. Running as a three- and four-year-old, she was 3-9-6 from 36 career starts with earnings of $84,000.
“She competed until she blew out a knee,” said Lindsay, who bought her for $250 and in need of extensive grooming and care. Lindsay sent out a request on Facebook, looking for a horse to train for the August competition and got a response. When she first saw the horse, it was clear some rehab work was needed.
“She’d been sitting for two years, living in the cornstalks and wearing an old winter blanket,” Lindsay explained. “We rescued her, took her home and had some vet work done on her. She was full of crud from wearing that blanket, kind of wormy and had an ear that was mattering.”
Within a couple of weeks, Porsha had gained between 200 and 300 pounds and had become “a beautiful, sassy mare.”
Who knows, if Lindsay one day finds a horse that takes her to Las Vegas in December, she might recall this upcoming national competition and give her NFR horse a special name, too. Maybe Porsha II or just plain Porsche.
This blog was written by Canterbury Staff Writer Jim Wells. Wells was a longtime sportswriter at the Pioneer Press and is a member of the Canterbury Park Hall of Fame.