Like most barrel racers, Jordan Morman has a special relationship with her horse.
Saturday, Morman and her black mare, Remi, took their relationship to another level when they won the Senior Division of the barrel racing at the Junior National Finals Rodeo presented by YETI.
Morman was second in the average entering the short go at the Wrangler Rodeo Arena with a two-run time of 27.862 seconds. Turns out the best was yet to come for the 12-year-old from Gillette, Wyoming.
The first competitor to run the cloverleaf pattern, Morman set the standard with a time of 13.444 seconds, the fastest run of the week by more than two-tenths of a second.
“I could feel that Remi was ready to run,” Morman said. “She had this in her mind and she had the game in her hand … well, in her hoof, really. She could tell what time she was going to get even if I couldn’t tell.
“I had to trust her, I had to trust the ground and I had to trust God.”
Morman wasn’t the only one who knew what Remi had in her mind Saturday.
Lauren Kelly, who trained Remi before selling her to the Mormans last year, also had a sense it was going to be a special day.
“When Jordan and I were doing some prep work this morning I was watching Remi,” Kelly said. “Remi was up and she was looking around. She was excited that she was going to run even at the practice arena. And that’s when I knew. When that horse is like that, she’s going to make a smoking run.”
That run, combined with their work in the first two rounds, made it a very profitable week for Morman. In addition to winning some checks, a saddle, a buckle and other barrel racing gear, Morman was presented with a brand new horse trailer.
“I won a lot of stuff,” she said, “but I think what I won mostly was the experience of being here.”
Morman also earned a spot in the semifinals of The American, the world’s richest one-day rodeo.
“I’m excited about it because now I can share with the whole world, and not just the people in this arena, what I can do,” Morman said.
The rest of the world probably hasn’t heard the last of Morman and Remi, and people might want to take notice of Kelly as well.
The Stephenville, Texas, cowgirl only recently began her career as a horse trainer and she already has a world champion in her stable.
“I bought Remi as a 3-year-old and I trained her on the barrels and seasoned her,” Kelly said. “The Mormans are stuck with me now. As long as they have Remi I’m not going anywhere.
“That’s my heart horse and it was a really tough decision to let her go. But I want to be a trainer, that’s what I want to do. Unfortunately, it was the time in my life that I had to make the decision to let my best one go to get my name out there.”
Obviously, Morman is glad Kelly made that difficult decision.
“Remi is like a big sister,” Morman said. “I can trust her with my life. She has a personality attached to her and she’s a smart little sucker. She can tell when I’m sad, when I’m angry, even when it’s not directed at barrel racing.
“When I come home after I’ve had a tough day, she knows how to cheer me up. She knows me better than anybody.”
It’s a relationship that has paid dividends for both horse and rider. After the two won a qualifier in Gillette, Morman rewarded Remi with some extra grain. So what can Remi expect after this week’s performance?
“She’s going to be treated like a princess,” Morman said. “It was already in her head. That was in her head the first time she stepped on earth.”
Kelly, of course, already knew that. So she wasn’t simply looking to sell Remi to the highest bidder.
“I wasn’t going to sell her to just anyone,” Kelly said. “Jordan came up to me after she had tried Remi and she said, ‘It was a pleasure to meet you. And thank you for the opportunity to ride your horse today.’ And that sold it for me. When a girl who is only 11 has that kind of respect and sincerity about her … it was the perfect match.
“It was stressful to watch the first ride, but it was definitely a perfect match.”