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Tex Express

By Tanya Randall
Courtesy of the Barrel Racing Report

Natalie Bland, Boyd, Texas, and her tough Paint gelding Texas War Jet picked up $2,166 at the Texas pro rodeos in early March. The duo topped Glen Rose, Texas, for $1,735 and placed seventh at Bay City for an additional $431. Her husband, Cameron, a bull rider, also placed at Bay City.

Natalie and her hauling pattern Donna Tippen (a.k.a. Mom) escaped the North Texas ice storm by heading to the Texas Gulf Coast for Wednesday slack at Bay City.

“It’s a pretty tricky little setup,” Natalie said of the Matagorda County Fairgrounds. “The alleyway is in the corner of the arena. You can run in or setup, and I ran in. It’s a narrow pen, even with the alley in the corner, your angle is not too bad to the first. I just sent him in there knowing regardless if we were a little straight or too wide, he was going to turn it. He had a good first. The pen is so narrow, I turned the first and I was like ‘Oh my gosh, the second’s right there!’ and had to get him moved over. I really held him off the second to keep him from hitting it. He really fun and makes about the same run every time. He just did his deal.”

Shortly after she cooled “Tex” down, Natalie left Bay City and made it as far as Caldwell, Texas, before stopping for the night at the fairgrounds.

“We waited as long as we could to let the weather warm up before we headed out of there; I was 50 out so I had a little time to play with but not a lot,” she said. “The roads were good until about 20 miles outside of Glen Rose, we started hitting ice. We were like ‘WHAT ARE WE DOING!’ ”

The trip was well worth it, as she and Tex made one of their best runs ever to win the rodeo out of Thursday afternoon slack.

“He felt really strong at Glen Rose,” she said. “I’m wishing I had a video because it’s one of the best runs I’ve had on him. I didn’t hit a lot of barrels last year, but I hit the second barrel more than I wanted to. I’d been hanging on to him on the backside of the second. At Glen Rose, I just pitched it back to him and he came on around quicker a lot better than he has been. His barrels were really tight there.”

Natalie bought Tex, a 10-year-old brown tobiano gelding by Jet My Life (QH) out of Boot Skootin Taz, by Ima J Bar Bull, about three years ago from breeders Brice and Karen Manning.

“They had raised him and trained him and had him started really nice on the barrels,” said Natalie, who works for her family’s metal fabrication company. “He had a really good handle and was started well and was easy to finish out. Tana Renick told us about him and when we went up there and tried him. I just was really impressed with him and could see the potential he had. It took me about a year and half of hauling and just putting in the time to really get him clicking. He’s been going good.”

Rather than bring Tex up through the jackpot ranks, Natalie chose to season the gelding at the rodeos.

“When I first got him I took him to a few local jackpots, but I pretty much just started taking him to rodeos,” she explained. “That’s what I wanted to do, so I figured I might as well season him at rodeos. A few years ago I went up to Cody, Wyoming, and the Dakotas for the Fourth of July run, and he did pretty good. He didn’t get any money anywhere, but his times were really good considering he was still figuring everything out. I just kept going.”

Natalie’s goal for 2015 is to qualify for the Texas Circuit Finals, and she’s well on her way.