story by Michele Toberer Nineteen-year-old BJ Billingsley has been a member of the Arkansas Cowboys Association for four years, competing as a tie-down roper. BJ […]
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Meet the Member Linda Anderson
story by Lindsay King
From cutting and reining to a clover-leaf pattern at top speeds, Linda Anderson from Imboden, Arkansas, has tried her hand at quite a few different disciplines. “My dad was a cow horse trainer but I saw those barrel races and I just fell in love. I do not know what else I would ever do outside of horses.” At 13, Linda broke and trained her first barrel horse. Norma, her mom, rode in western pleasure classes but encouraged Linda to pursue rodeo, hauling her everywhere. “My parents had a friend who was a WPRA world champion, Norita Henderson. I would stay with her at their ranch and try to learn how to do everything proper for the barrels.”
Horse shows or WPRA events were about the only options for barrel racing while Linda still lived in Illinois. “I did pretty well in the WPRA, filled my permit and then in the early 70s I got into racing thoroughbreds.” What started out as just a job ponying horses turned into a five-year stint on the track. “I had one stud who was first out of the gate and led the pack all the way around the track. It was a lot of fun but I missed rodeo.” Once Linda started setting barrels up behind the track kitchen she knew it was time to get back to rodeo.
In 1978, two years after getting back to barrels, Linda moved to Arkansas. She bought her ACA card and kept running in the IPRA. “I won the year-end ACA barrels in 2001, setting an arena record at the finals. Then in 2006, I won the average in the ACA and traveled to all the WPRA events I could.” At one point, she was sitting third in the world in the IPRA and in 2001 she was the IPRA southern region circuit barrel champion. Linda trained barrel horses for more than 30 years until deciding it was time to focus on her horses about ten years ago. “I told my husband, Barry, I needed time for my own horses. Working with horses is all I have ever known.”
Barry is easily her biggest supporter and fan. “Without him I would not be so confident, he gives me that. He likes me to go run and to be able to win of course. Barry is a great guy to have in my corner.” Barry and Linda live on the same property as their daughter Sonia and Jason, her husband, and their son Chandler. “My daughter and I like to haul and run together. We hope to start going more once this year’s points are done and the new ones start this fall.”
The Wild Wind Arena Barrel Series was started five years ago in their outdoor arena. Last year they hosted their first full-event IPRA- and ACA-sanctioned rodeo. “Our events are definitely a family affair, my sister comes down to help and we all have to chip in. We would like to rework some things so we can keep doing the rodeos and start having barrel races every Sunday.” After retiring from full-time training, Linda has had a lot of tough luck with her own horses. “I had a big paint last year and placed third at two rodeos but then he ripped a tendon at the third and is still recovering. This year I have a nice mare that I plan to make the ACA finals on.” Her favorite rodeos include: Belleville, Illinois, where she graduate high school, and Pauls Valley, Oklahoma.
Linda used to travel thousands of miles a year, making it to Canada, the Mexico border, Virginia Beach and everywhere in between. “I used to love to drive. If you are winning, the miles do not seem so long. The older I get the less I like to travel though.” The appeal of ACA events is in the close proximity to her home. Linda only loads up when she knows they are ready to run and to do it well. “I admire rodeo people so much because everybody tries to win. Not many people go if they are not good enough. It is something that I work hard at every day and I doubt that will ever change.”