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Pilgrim Sisters


By Shelby Louwerens

They might be called the “Sisterhood of the Traveling Barrel Racers.” Ashley, Mary, and Allie Pilgrim are a prime example of three sisters with a common bond- barrel racing. Kindyl Scruggs, a family friend, got the three of them started in the sport and they have since taken off in the barrel racing world. Ashley, at 22 years old, has been racing for 10 years. Mary, 21, has been racing for 5, and Allie, 17, has been racing for 9. With all three of them participating, they have grown closer spending time together during the racing weekends and the weeks spent riding, but racing against one another is a different story.

 “We are very competitive,” Ashley said. “But in the end we all just want everyone to do their best and for someone to bring something home.”

Though they bought all of their horses trained, they have worked with them to fit their style. For training, the girls spend much of their time keeping their horses in shape. During the week, they exercise their horses, Matilda, Jazz, and Kicks, to keep them running their best.

 If a horse needs a “tune-up,” on barrels they work on that during the week or in trainers before the barrel race. During the school year, Allie, a student at Desoto Central High School, takes the lead on riding and training while the older sisters are away at Mississippi State.

 “We each have our own horse; Mary’s horse is Matilda, Allie’s horse is Jazz, and my horse is Kicks. But at youth races Allie gets to run them all because we are too old,” Ashley said. “During the school year, we are off at school and Allie keeps the horses in shape, so if we don’t come home on the weekend to run she gets to run them then too.” 

Allie also worked to train their 3-year-old futurity colt. “Harold Trusty started the colt,” Ashley said, “and then Allie worked with him. Now he is going to Chad Crider to get ready for the Futurities next year.”

The training for their barrel horses has paid off with multiple wins. The biggest accomplishments for the girls are many high placing earnings and championships. Ashley is especially proud of her Battle in the Saddle 1D average and being the reserve Mid-South Nationals champion. Mary takes pride in her 1D earnings at the All American Youth Barrel Race. Allie is proud to be the 2012 Mississippi 1D youth champion and the All American Youth Barrel Race Go Round winner for 2012 and 2013.

These wins did not come without a cost. The Pilgrim sisters experienced that firsthand when their most beloved horse, Kicks, coliced after a three-day barrel race. “Kicks coliced after a three-day barrel race and she had to have surgery,” Ashley said. “She almost died right then. After that we took her home and two weeks later she coliced again and had to have a second surgery.”

This was not the end to Kicks’ bad health, however. Her incision from the surgeries then got an infection. “The incision got infected and she got salmonella,” Ashley said. “We are really lucky to still have her.”

This onset of bad luck brought them closer together and closer to Kicks. “Kicks is probably all of our favorite horse, because she has had the surgeries and has won us so much.” Kicks is now healthy and back in action, competing in the race they all love.

The girls are happy to have all of their horses happy and healthy again, and are looking forward to their upcoming races. The Pilgrim girls will be at the NBHA Youth World in Perry, Ga., the Mega Barrel Race in Jackson, Miss., the Lucky Dog Barrel Race in Tunica, Miss., and the Mississippi State Show in Brandon, Miss.

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