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Battle in the Saddle


Article & photos by Nancy Brannon

Safe Harbor hosted its Battle in the Saddle barrel race for the fifth year in Tunica, Mississippi on a blustery winter weekend. But the steadily dropping temperatures and high winds didn’t seem to affect the determination of the riders to round the barrels in their fastest times possible. Even Saturday evening’s snow flurries didn’t deter folks who were settled in Tunica for the weekend.

The show offered a total of $13,500 added money, with $4,000 added to Friday’s, Saturday’s and Sunday’s Open 4D; $1,000 added to the Open 4D Average; and $500 added to the Young Guns 3D Average. The show was both BBR & WPRA approved.

In addition to entry fees raising money for Safe Harbor and Lighthouse Ministries, there were other fundraises at the show. A cake auction brought in another $1,075. They sold barbequed Boston butts, hickory smoked whole turkeys, and more delicious meats. Several people made individual donations to Safe Harbor.

Lipscomb & Pitts Insurance and Rockin Diamond Ranch were two of the main sponsors of this event. Other sponsors were MetalFab Livestock Solutions, makers of the Drag Queen arena drag; West Nashville Wrecker Service; Steel Summit; Jackson Tire and Alignment; Shared Hospital of Nashville; Twin Med; Waverly Wood; Krebs Brothers Restaurant Store; and Tractor Supply Co.

There were several vendors at the show including JHA Saddle & Tack, Dana’s Bargain Box, Bling for Horses, Trail’s End Western Wear, and OE Nutraceuticals.

On Saturday afternoon at the Big Drag 100, Battle in the Saddle offered a Kid’s Foot Face for children ages 10 and under. Every participant got goody bags.

Brent Puhl and Puhl’s Photography were on hand to photograph every run. So if you didn’t get your photo at the event, you can still order them online at or call 419-343-8044.

President of Safe Harbor Memphis, Pastor Brad Bowie was hoping this event would raise between $10,000 and $15,000 for Safe Harbor Ministries. “This is the biggest fundraiser we have each year,” he said. “We plan to use the money to buy 128 twin size Tempur-Pedic® mattresses for the Memphis facility. A good night’s sleep is worth a lot!” Safe Harbor serves the homeless population, and helps rehabilitate folks with drug and alcohol addiction. They also have a 6-month residential program for those just coming out of prison or on parole. They help with recovery and life skill classes. They offer drug treatment for those court-ordered to undergo drug treatment, and they go out into the community to find jobs for their residents. “It’s all about recovery and success,” Bowie said. “If you can put them in an uncontrolled environment and they can still control their behavior – you have success!”

Bowie has been with Safe Harbor for 20 years. He said that last year they had 12,000 participants in their programs. They have locations in Nashville, Memphis, Knoxville, Clarksville, Erin, Tennessee, and Little Rock, Arkansas. They also have a women’s facility in Memphis. “The demand for women’s services is huge,” Bowie said. “It takes more care. Most have children or are trying to get their children back.” Safe Harbor has 400 beds, ministry-wide, Bowie said, and they are staying full.

Bowie also talked about the impact the opioid crisis has had. “We’ve lost more people [to opioids] than we did in the whole Vietnam War.”

The folks at Safe Harbor were grateful to all who attended the barrel race. “We also want to thank all of you for the moral boost you gave our clients of Safe Harbor, who were able to attend the show to set barrels, help with shavings, set up and tear down the arena, and everything in between. You treated them with respect and didn't judge them because of their past. Most had never been around horses and truly enjoyed the whole experience and getting to see such a great family event, where the love of the sport and the love for each other is so strong. You don’t realize the impact you, the contestants, have on our guys! Thank you from all of us at Safe Harbor!”

Some really fast times were posted over the weekend: Bayleigh Choate: 14.567 and 14.820; Randee Prindle: 14.612 and 14.870; Megan Mariluch: 15.070; Georgia Perkins: 15.321 and Elizabeth Akins: 15.336.

Full results are posted at their website: Find more information on facebook: Battle in the Saddle

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