story by Michele Toberer Dale Davies has been blessed to live a life centered around horses and rodeo. Growing up in Fort Collins, Colorado as […]
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Meet the Member Eileen Geraghty
story by Lily Weinacht
Eileen Geraghty and her horse Famous Jet Bolt took home the 2018 GCPRA Incentive Barrel Racing Champion title last year, along with winning the second incentive round, the average and the incentive buckle and saddle. “I was thoroughly excited and amazed, especially by the Finals outcome,” says Eileen. She makes her home in Tucson, Arizona, and has been a GCPRA competitor for at least 10 years, winning her first title in the association in 2009 when she and her horse Tommy won the year-end open barrels. She then won the 2011 incentive saddle and second round buckle on a horse she borrowed in order to attend the finals. “I enjoy the camaraderie and the emotional support from the girls I run with, and getting to know people in all the events,” says Eileen.
Originally from Long Island, New York, Eileen rode her first horse in day camp when she was about 8. She didn’t step into a saddle again and learn to ride until she was 35. She came to Arizona for graduate school in 1976 and earned her doctorate and degrees in educational administration, reading, and special education, all while teaching full time. She bought her first horse around this time and began team penning and sorting, but barrel racing was her dream. She took her first lessons from Terri Foley, who introduced her to CCOBRA and SABRA 4D barrel clubs.
“Scooter quickly became my barrel racing horse and filled my WPRA permit. I bought my gray horse, Tommy, from Carla Jacobs,” says Eileen. “He was a natural but he was so tough that a friend gave me a plaque which read, ‘Courage is being scared to death and saddling up anyway.’ We ran hard in both the Grand Canyon and the WPRA Turquoise Circuit rodeos.”
Sadly, Tommy passed away in 2018. Eileen is now running barrels on her main horse, Famous Jet Bolt, whom she calls Shea, named for his baseball brand with an S in it and for the old Shea stadium in New York. “Shea is my partner, and a best friend. It’s work to keep him quiet at the arena gate but he really wants to work! Elaine Heatley has been my inspiration and support through the ups and downs with Shea. She has taught me to feel my horse and let him work, to look forward and learn to not dwell on mistakes.” Eileen also has two mares and a colt by Blazin Jetolena, whom she acquired through Randy Rist, who breeds, trains and runs barrel horses. She runs Blazin Dixie and hopes to start running her 4-year-old, Blazin Sail to Fame, soon.
A retired teacher and school administrator, Eileen currently substitute teaches in the Marana School District. She is also one of the chairmen of the Tucson Rodeo Committee. “In addition, I do rodeo ambassador work for rodeos by taking a horse to local schools to teach, and read books about rodeo to our school students. We go to school career days to teach about rodeo, and about the cowboy lifestyle and care of our livestock.” Eileen is also a founder of the Tucson chapter of Chicks N Chaps, sponsored by Wrangler. Chicks N Chaps is now a national rodeo PINK Day event that raises donations for local individuals and families living with the trials of breast cancer. It also teaches the attendees about rodeo. “Many Grand Canyon cowgirls and cowboys donate their time to the Chicks N Chaps by demonstrating and discussing their event in our clinics,” says Eileen, who is a cancer survivor herself.
Qualifying for the next GCPRA Finals is her latest goal, while keeping her horses— especially Shea—healthy, sound, and willing, are her daily goals. “I am truly blessed to be able to afford this lifestyle in many more ways than one. I say a quick prayer each time I enter an arena, for our safety, and another prayer in thanks for what I have learned from each run.”