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Equestrienne Darby Duncan


By Tommy Brannon

Diminutive three-year-old Darby Duncan of Rossville, Tennessee is an experienced rider and barrel racer, well – as experienced as one can be at age three. She was literally riding before she was born. Her mother Sarah Duncan and her grandmother Carla Paratore are both trainers, and Sarah admits that she was riding horses up to three days before Darby was born.

Darby not only has all of the experience that time has allowed, she also has the use of a very experienced horse, with the drive and spirit that helps a young and energetic rider compete. Darby’s barrel racer, Bouncer, owned by the Duncan’s neighbor Mollie Carter, is a 13-year-old Miniature horse, who Sarah said, “Has taught more children to ride than we can count. He has a feisty side, though; you might say, a ‘little man’ syndrome.” Bouncer was Mollie’s first horse and Mollie is the one who now is training Darby on Bouncer. Sarah commented that, although she started Darby riding, “Mothers can’t train their kids like other trainers can, because Mom is not cool anymore.” Sarah gives all the credit for Darby’s success to Mollie and Mollie’s mother Karena Carter, who is also a trainer. Darby rides a couple of times a day in the summer and four to five times a week in the winter.

  Rodeo competitors and spectators at both the Liberty Bowl Rodeo, held December 28, 2018 at the Shelby Showplace Arena, and Rodeo of The Mid-South, held January 19, 2019 at the Landers Center in Southhaven, Mississippi, were able to watch Darby and Bouncer run their barrel pattern. They are a real crowd pleaser, with Bouncer’s little legs flying around the arena and Darby concentrating and confident.  At the Liberty Bowl Rodeo they were just about five seconds off of the winning time! It was pretty evident to most horse folks that Darby is not just a passenger on Bouncer. She rides that Mini! She has recently been asked to ride a barrel race demonstration at the RFD TV American Rodeo, taking place in March in Arlington Texas.

Barrel Racing is not the only horse activity Darby does. Loretta Pemberton of Milan, Tennessee has been teaching Darby to do some trick riding. She is learning how to ride standing on her horse and to do the “Indian Hideaway” (or Apache Hideaway) a trick in which the rider lays out on the near side, parallel to the horse, while the horse goes around the arena.

`In addition to barrel racing at the Rodeo of the Mid-South, Darby participated in the Rodeo Queen pageant as a Rodeo Sweetheart. She wore a handmade outfit by Wendy Caen and boots donated by Hewlett-Dunn in Collierville, Tennessee. 
Darby has a Facebook page, where photos and videos of her rides are posted.  Her mother said, “This is a fun way for her fans follow her.”

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