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Cherry Finds Success In Barrels by Mike Cherry Like many kids, Kristen Cherry of Olive Branch, Mississippi started running barrels and poles on a pony in local club shows and S.A.S.C.A.. Her first pony, "LUCAS" was very well trained in barrels, poles, hunter jumper, hunter under saddle, trail, and halter. LUCAS also had a little streak of pony in him and between many excellent rides he also gave Kristen a few fits that taught her not only the basics, but also to be ready for anything, anytime. Kristen and LUCAS were good enough by their second year together to win pony barrels and usually pony, junior, and open poles against the horses at local shows. LUCAS won Kristen her first saddle by taking seven first and one second place at her first Winterfest series in 1999. Since that first pony, Kristen has come a long way, riding mostly barrel horses. In 1999 she won overall High Point Champion in S.A.S.CA. for another saddle. During 1999 and 2000 she took first place saddles in the second division Open Barrels at Winterfest and she picked up her fifth saddle at the NBHA Mississippi State show. At the age of 12 Kristen is not short on silver buckles either. In 2000 she competed for and won S.A.S.C.A. princess and was awarded a buckle. In 2000 and 2001, PATTY, her black and white Halter and Pleasure pony was Mississippi 4-H High Point Champion winning her two more belt buckles. PATTY came in 4th in Halter and 1st in Pony Pleasure against some very tough competition. The pair have worked hard together earning a number of buckles, blankets, halters, and trophies. In April of 2001 Kristen's dad purchased her a new barrel horse from Janice and Chris Hayes of Red Banks, Mississippi. the five year old mare was bred, raised, and trained by the Hayes. With their help Kristin and MISSY are quickly getting together. She also rides her old rock solid gelding "DUDE" (I'M A MOVIN DUDE) and "CHAMP" (BOB'S NU ACRE), the winner of the 200 Dixie Nationals Team Penning event in NBHA competition. In 2000 Kristen qualified two horses for the NBHA Youth World. In 2002 she has qualified three in the open world and four in the youth world. Cut of the seven qualified positions, three are for first place silver buckles from Gist, including first in the First division of open barrels for MS01. The third week in February was hectic, but turned out to be very memorable for Kristen and MISSY. At Winterfest #7 the pair had the fastest time of the show with a 14.2. At the end of the show, Kristen, family and friends headed for the Dixie Nationals in Jackson, Mississippi around 11:30 p.m. Kristen doesn't do well without her sleep and her parents were concerned as to how she would ride. About 30 minutes before she was to run, Kristen ran sprints in the parking lot to wake herself up. Another concern was whether her mare was tired from running several times the day before, and being in the trailer most of the night. Kristen and MISSY up to run, not in the youth or juniors, but in Senior Barrels, which is open barrels for horses 6 years and older. The leading time for the class was 14.586, so was the pressure on. This being their first time in this arena, when their time came to run instead, of blasting in like most other runners of the day, they calmly walked in the arena, about halfway to the radar. Then with a kick and push of the reins, the big mare burst across the radar. Dirt flying, they made three tight turns and went back out the gate. Their time came in at a 14.600. This put them in third place for the class. The Dixie National's provided an excellent venue to post such an outstanding performance at their first AQHA show. The big red mare lived up to her name that weekend, "MIGHTY PERCENTAGE". Kristen and MISSY are getting their timing better with each run they make. And while they still make mistakes and do have bad days, hopefully they have many years toward a bright future together.

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