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31st Annual Josey Reunion Barrel Race

31st Annual Josey Reunion Barrel Race

The Josey Ranch arena is no stranger to great barrel racers, especially when it comes to the Josey Reunion Barrel Race. 

Josey Ranch has been hosting barrel racing and roping clinics since 1967 with the continued tradition that once you cross the front gate you become part of the Josey Family.  31 years ago, Martha and R.E. Josey decided it was time to hold a family reunion, and hosted the first Josey Reunion Barrel Race.

Open to Josey students of all ages, the Josey Reunion has grown to be one of the premier racing events in East Texas and students from all over the country come to compete at the 3-day event and to reconnect with the rest of their Josey Family. 

“The Josey Reunion is a special race because we get to see so many familiar ­­­faces,” explained Martha’s nephew Gary Arthur. “We teach in the clinics year-round and it’s great to see the students return for a barrel race where we see the improvement in their riding.”

The event kicked off at 6 pm on Thursday, May 2nd with a 3D pole bending race. Dixie Tabb from Bogata, Texas won the pole bending with a great 21.317 run followed by Emorie Comer from Carthage, Texas in the 2nd Division with a 22.542, and Amber Morris from Hodgenville, Kentucky in the 3rd Division with a 23.482.

Following the pole bending the barrel racers started early Friday morning running for their chance to make it to the Short Go on Sunday. Friday’s race was won by Shreveport, Lousianna rider Abby Pursifull, and her partner “Reds Flyinbyu” with a 16.128.

After Friday’s Race, contestants prepared for another chance to compete in the finals on Sunday. The Second Go was tough competition as Bristol Prinner from Huntington, Texas ran a 16.306 on her partner “Miss FirewaterHottie”.

Taking the top 20 barrel racers in each division each day the short go filled to 141 barrel racers who are running for the Big Tex Trailer, $10,000 added money, and other great prizes from the Josey Ranch sponsors.

Over the last 40 years, the Josey Ranch has given over $350,000 in scholarships to contestants and students. This year the Josey Ranch gave three scholarships in honor of Sandy Smith late wife of Josey Ranch staff member Lee Smith, Angela Richardson former Josey student who passed away in 2023, and Paula Muirhead late Josey Instructor and friend.

Scholarship recipients are chosen after an application process based on their accomplishments and goals for their education. The applications are reviewed by a Josey Ranch committee and selected based on a group decision. Preslie Riggle from El Lago, Texas received the Sandy Smith Scholarship, Dixie Tabb from Bogata, Texas received the Angela Richardson Scholarship, and Landri Aultman from Greenbrier, Arkansas received the Paula Muirhead Scholarship.

The Josey Ranch also gives a Horse with the Most Heart award in remembrance of Martha’s horse “Sonny Bit O' Both”, Martha’s second great horse winner of the AQHA and WPRA world titles in 1980. This year the selected horse was “KSU PlayboyTaknPepto” owned by to Lona Spears.

The Josey Ranch also announced the Josey Reunion Purina Horse of the Year on Sunday. As a long-time partner of the Josey Ranch Purina Horse Feeds partners with the Ranch to award 500 lbs of feed to one horse at both the Josey Reunion and Josey Jr World each year. This year’s Purina Horse of the year SBD French Rose ridden by Harlie Parrish.

The excitement runs high as the flag presentation marks the start of the short go on Sunday at 11:00 am right after Cowboy Church.  There is nothing quite like the camaraderie you see and feel during this race. Not only are these contestants competing against each other but cheering for their friends who they have trained beside in Josey Clinics. It wouldn’t be a family reunion without a little bit of “sibling” rivalry and with over $58,000 worth of payouts on the line, these Josey students get very serious about this race. They bring their “A” game every year, but in true family fashion, all the runners cheer each other on. 

Maggie Lee, a 10-year-old cowgirl from Bossier City, Louisiana set the time to beat of the short go with a stellar run of a 16.198 on her partner DH Sal Leta Fame. 

The 2D was won by Amber Morris riding “Jetevieve” with a time of 16.715.  The 3D title belonged to Trina Taggar riding “Sparks Playboy” with a time of 17.216 and the 4D title was claimed by Janet Seals riding “My Red Dually” with a time of 18.210. The Senior Champion was Josey Ranch Instructor Lisa Mitchell from Marshall, Texas and her partner, Jade Ta Fame with a 16.791.

At the conclusion of the Josey Reunion, the Josey Ranch staff begin preparation for the 44th annual Josey Jr World Barrel Race.

1D Champion Maggie Lee 

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