story by Lindsay King If Andee Jo Haden has anything to be proud of, it’s the barrel horse she’s made out of her gelding Superman. […]
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Meet the Member Brenda Martin
story by Lindsay King
Brenda Martin’s first rodeo back as an adult was in 2004 and she hauled a barrel horse in a feed truck hooked to a stock trailer. “I married Johnie in 1980 and we started a family soon after that. Both of my girls rodeoed for a bit so I still got to ride and help them. When they quit competing, it was about six years before I got on a horse again,” said the long-time Hartshorne, Oklahoma, native. When Brenda was in the third grade, her family moved to the small Oklahoma town and that first horse was purchased. “My cousin was riding, so when we lived at a place where we could keep one I got a horse too.” It wasn’t until junior high when Brenda got a “good horse” that she was able to compete in the IPRA (known as the IRA at the time). In the late 70s and early 80s, Brenda qualified for the IRA finals five times in barrels.
An older mare left over from high school rodeo carried Brenda through her first year of amateur rodeo and to the CRRA finals in the 21st century. A colt out of that mare kept Brenda busy with futurities for a few years before finding her longtime barrel partner. “My oldest daughter bought a horse and bred her and I bought the colt (Disco). We just click, he makes it easy. I have taken my time with him over the years.” An injury three rodeos into the 2016 season sidelined Brenda and Disco. “My vet didn’t think he would ever come back from it, but we have taken things slow.” Thanks to Brenda’s patience with Disco’s recovery, they had a quick rise to the top in the 2018 season. Brenda qualified for both the CRRA and ACRA finals. If it wasn’t for a tipped barrel in the first round, Brenda would have taken home the average at the ACRA finals last year. She still managed to win one round and take second in another.
Since the very beginning, Brenda has been a self-made barrel racer. “The first horse I got was an off-the-track four-year-old that didn’t know anything. I did all the riding, but my dad gave me pointers. He knew a lot of trainers that could give us tips and from there it was all trial and error.” That was the horse Brenda made several trips to the IFR on. “I have tried to ride one someone else has trained and I have not had a lot of luck with that.” Sadly, Brenda’s dad passed away her senior year of high school. “He got me into it and helped me. My parents sacrificed everything for me to rodeo.” Brenda’s husband has provided the same strong support system for her and their daughters over the years.
It started with a love for horses, but has continued because of an unyielding competitive spirit. “It has always been barrels for me. When I first started we did poles and other things. I have always wished I would have learned to breakaway rope, but I think it is too late to start now.” There is a calf roper in the family though: Brenda’s oldest grandson. “He has started roping calves, so it (rodeo) is something we can do together. He is here a lot to ride and rope, we exercise horses together. I am really enjoying spending time with him every day after school.”
A teacher for the last 31 years, Brenda has spent the last 14 of those at Jones Academy. She teaches the fourth grade at the Native American boarding school in her hometown. Most ACRA rodeos are close to the house Brenda grew up in and now resides at with Johnie. With the bar set high from last year, Brenda is looking to make another trip to the ACRA finals and end a little higher in the average. “I have to take care of my horse first, so I won’t push him too hard or go to many rodeos. We will just try to qualify for finals and the rest usually kind of takes care of itself.”