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Battle in the Saddle


Article & photos by Nancy Brannon

On the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday weekend, January 17-19, 2020, Safe Harbor again hosted their fundraiser Battle in the Saddle barrel races in the Paul Battle Arena in Tunica, Mississippi. This year’s event had a record $16,500 added money, thanks to generous sponsors. There was $5,000 added to the Open 4D each day, $1,000 added to the Open Average, and $500 added to the Young Guns 3D Average. Total payout for the show was $102,175, including $65,175 in the Open, over $10,000 in the Open Average, and over $7,000 each in the Youth and Adult side pots.

The event is BBR approved, WPRA sanctioned, and featured the KK Run For Vegas/Junior World Finals Race Qualifier, which attracted 39 competitors. KK Productions, LLC, founded by Kelli Kaminski, hosts the Junior World Finals for barrel racing and pole bending in Las Vegas on December 8-12, 2020.

Melanie Lyell, with The Lighthouse Ministry, said this was the biggest show they’d had in a long time, with 2,360 total entries, including 1,338 in the Open and 178 Young Gun riders. Riders came from as far away as Canada and Colorado, she said. “We sold out all the stalls and had to put up some temporary stalls. The folks at Tunica Arena have been exceptional in doing everything that we needed.”

Brent Puhl was the official photographer, capturing all the barrel racing action. See his show photos at:

Saturday had two added attractions: the Kids’ Foot Race, just after the Open Big Drag 100, challenged young runners to circle three barrels in record time. Every participant received a goody bag of sweet treats.

Speaking of sweet treats, the other attraction was Saturday’s cake auction, which netted over two thousand dollars for Safe Harbor. Kenny Lane switched to his auctioneer’s voice to entice bidders to fork over some big money for some delicious homemade cakes. Chocolate seemed to be the most popular type and the best selling one was a three-layer Ferrero Rocher chocolate cake that sold for $250. Kenny claimed, “No cake on the planet is better than this one!” Earlier a chocolate Oreo cheesecake sold for $180 and the “Ultimate Pecan cheesecake” sold for $165. A triple layer barrel racing cake sold for $150. A Red Velvet cake with cream cheese icing went for $115 and a sour cream coconut cake went for $95, besting a lemon butter cream cake by just $5 ($90). Listening to the auction, a spectator commented to his friend, “We need to go into the baking business!” The response was, “You also need a good auctioneer to sell them – and a good cause to sell them for.”

After the cake auction, the Old West Special Trails Trick Riders entered the arena. Three riders, Kammie Kiley, Brooke Laster, and Cali Ferrard, wowed the crowd by riding above and beside the saddle, and hanging upside down from the saddle as their reliable horses steadily cantered around the arena. Kammie has been trick riding for six years and rides her 17-year-old Arabian gelding.

About Safe Harbor of Memphis: Safe Harbor hosted its first Battle in the Saddle barrel race fundraiser in 2013 at the Show Place Arena in Memphis, TN, raising $18,000. Safe Harbor provides services to the homeless, ex-offenders, and drug addiction rehabilitation. Safe Harbor provides the basics food, clothing, and shelter and then strives to make a positive difference in peoples’ lives through counseling, life skills building classes, and finding them permanent employment for when they leave the center.

 Brad Bowie, President said that the proceeds from this year’s barrel race will go toward building a computer lab and buying Tempur-Pedic mattresses for the Memphis facility. In 2019, Safe Harbor opened three new locations: in Erin, Tenn., in Jefferson County, Tenn. and in Bucksnort, Tenn. “We have a waiting list of over 100 people for a bed to open up. We have 388 beds total and they stay full, with a waiting list. This barrel race is our main fundraiser, but folks can donate any time on our website.” Brad was very grateful to their sponsors, especially D& S Builders of Sevierville, Tenn., IGA Insurance, and Net Gain Corporation.”

Safe Harbor also operates a women’s program called Fresh Start, for women with substance abuse disorders and Lighthouse Ministries, a Christian ministry to help people make a smooth transition from homelessness, addiction, and crime to a life of purpose, faith, and love. Find more information at their websites:,,, and

Following are selected results from the weekend’s competition:

Open Average winner for the weekend was Randee Prindle on Red Man Jones with times of 14.380, 14.485, and 14.275.
Young Guns Average winner was Crystal Mason riding Doc Freckles Legacy, posting times of 15.174, 15.302, and 15.046.

Full results are posted at:

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