I had been riding and training Frog for 4 years. Beauty and success sometimes take a very long time. My senior year of high school (98) I had a taste of that success. At the time it seemed like it took forever, but thinking back on it now, the journey was the success. I was devastated when I didn’t qualify for the finals as a Junior and it sure seemed like the end of the world. What it taught me is often something that is overlooked- I learned how to loose. Boy, did I ever. In the end, it made the wins so much better and so much more worth it. When we qualified for the National High School Finals and they were held in Gillette. The journey made my time so much more fun and I know I appreciated it more.
In 1998 I started my first year of college at Northwest College in Powell, Wyoming. I was on a full ride rodeo scholarship. After finishing 5th in the Big Sky Region that year, I was determined to do better. I spent that first summer of college living, working and rodeoing in Cody, Wyoming. The Cody Nite Show proved to be perfect to season him and we won lots in that arena. That fall of 1999 Frog suffered his first bout of colic. He was tubed and cleaned out and all was well. The vet prescribed Equine Fiber Plus, the human equivalent to Metamucil. For 3 months I fed him the fiber and he continued to do well, in and out of the arena. We were sitting first in the Big Sky Region and first in the Nation in the Barrel Racing when his second colic hit. This one did not go over as easily. My brother had him with him in Riverton during the off season to rope off. He was rushed to Sheridan, WY, where Dr. Wilson performed emergency surgery. Over 50 pounds of sand was cleaned from his intestines. Frog was given a 50% chance of surviving. Being a positive person, I had no doubts that Frog and I would be back! Frog was a miracle.
Frog’s recovery was about 3 months long and consisted of walking and hand feeding. My parents and grandparents both had a huge role in this. I was going to school full time, in Powell while he recovered back home in Casper. Without the help of my family, Frog would never have made it through this. Once he got the clear, I brought him back to school with me. I was getting up every morning before class to ride Frog. For the first 2 weeks I rode him-at a walk- for 2 miles. I exercised him progressively until he was back to his normal condition. Frog was a very strong horse and definitely not your average barrel horse. He was about 500-600 pounds larger than the normal barrel horse. But what is normal? He was a very thick horse…once described as a Kenworth. That College Rodeo season we finished second in the Big Sky Region; missing the saddle by 5 points. That did qualify us for the College National Finals Rodeo in my hometown of Casper. We finished 13th in the Nation. All things considered, that is pretty impressive. Frog was a miracle.
Our rodeo seasons were not consistent after that. We both took about 9 months off while I recovered from back surgery in Jan. of 2001. We started running barrels again by June of 01- returning to the Cody Nite Show where I knew we both had confidence. While he was completely recovered, I was still working on building my confidence back on a horse again. He waited patiently in the corral for 6 months. The next year was a long road back for both of us. That year, the NIRA had implemented a Regional Playoff system to qualify for the CNFR. I made it to the playoffs in all my events and the short-go in Goat Tying and Barrel Racing. However, my goat got up and we just tipped third barrel to qualify. While I was hoping for a “big comeback,” I was happier to be back on my horses. In hindsight, it really was a big comeback despite not qualifying for the CNFR.
The summer of 2002, I began team roping of Frog. Something that he has been doing for along time was something I needed him to teach me. By the time the fall college season came around I was lucky enough to find a partner. Although I wasn’t very consistent, it was great to be able to team rope at the collegiate level. I got one great picture of me roping off Frog (above). In January of 2003 Frog’s third bout with colic hit. This hit much harder than the first two; especially given his history. I was working full time and going to college so my time was split between the three. The family where I was boarding my horses was very horse savvy. I thank them everyday for the help they gave me during this time. At this time, I was attending the University of Montana, Missoula. When I arrived at the Vet clinic, Frog’s prognosis did not look good. I called my parents to let them know what the options were and we discussed what the next step would be. My father spoke with the vet. The decision was made to open Frog up, if there was any previous damage to his intestines we would not follow through with the second surgery. Given that he had already had this surgery once, I braced myself for the worst possible news.