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Meet the Member Brooke Klinger
story by Lily Weinacht
Brooke Klinger is a frequent competitor at the Keystone Barrel Racing Classic series in Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania. But this May was different from all the others when Brooke won the KK Run for Vegas qualifier in the seniors pole bending and took second in the barrel racing. It was the first KKP race the Andover, New Jersey, native had competed in, and having recently turned 18, this was Brooke’s last season of eligibility for the Junior World Finals. Brooke ran her fastest barrel time ever in that pen at 16.1 and won the poles with a 20.4, both on her gelding The Dirty Ole Dance “Dancer.” “Steve Wright owns the place, and we all think he’s one of the best on the East Coast—the ground is always perfect there,” says Brooke, whose barrel time rolled into the open race that same weekend and put her in fifth place. “It was run really smoothly and we all knew the draws beforehand.”
The 2,500-mile road trip from her New Jersey home to Las Vegas will take four days with horses. Brooke and her parents, Jackie and Scott Klinger, will caravan with one of Brooke’s friends who also qualified. She plans to bring a backup horse, and give both equine athletes extra special care with therapeutic boots and supplements for the journey. Already used to traveling out of state, Brooke competes in NBHA races and recently purchased her WPRA permit. Wantage, New Jersey, was her first pro rodeo, and she and Dancer were just out of the money. She’s also competing in the 2019 NBHA Youth World Show this July, and in 2016 and 2017, she won the All American Quarter Horse Congress in the youth pole bending on Dancer. “He’s pretty decorated and he knows it,” Brooke says with a laugh.
She and her family purchased Dancer six years ago when Brooke’s trainer, Jim Tenhoeve, came across the horse and recommended him for Brooke. She also competes on a 4-year-old, French N Memories, who is progressing to 1D races, while she trained her 6-year-old Gotti Be Early “Sonny” herself. “My first horse is King and my dad barrel races him sometimes. I taught King barrels, and he’s taught me a lot,” says Brooke. “I’m the first person in my family to get into horses. Our friends had horses and I wanted to try riding.” She started showing King in Western pleasure, but discovered her need for speed when she saw pole bending and barrel racing. “I like poles better—I think it’s more challenging because there’s so many objects you can hit, and I know my horse likes poles better.
“It’s rewarding to see all your hard work and where it goes, and I love meeting new people at every barrel race.” Barrel racing also introduced Brooke to her trainer, Jim Tenhoeve, who passed away in 2017, but his memory continues to inspire her. Brooke trains on her own now, with the help of her parents, and rides daily to keep her horses in shape. She’s also active in karate and helps her parents teach classes at their school, East West Karate Academy.
A recent graduate of Kittatinny Regional High School, Brooke is attending Centenary University in New Jersey this fall and studying medical laboratory science. She plans to continue rodeoing, and since the Junior World Finals lands during finals week, she’ll reschedule her tests. With her primary goal for the year accomplished—qualifying for the Junior World Finals—her next focus is competing to the best of her abilities in Las Vegas, followed by a qualification for The American in the near future.