story by Lindsay Humphrey “I’m not much of a planner,” said Ryan Bestol of his storied rodeo career so far. “When I get something in […]
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Meet the Member Patty Finney
story by Lindsay King
“Sometimes I feel like I am out of my league, but the barrel racing community is very welcoming. I have met so many people that are very gracious and have given me advice. The western lifestyle is full of people willing to help others do the best they can,” said Patty Finney from Ainsworth, Nebraska. Growing up, Patty was an active 4-Her. Horse shows and playdays quickly turned into high school rodeo. “I graduated in the mid 80s when the economy really crashed, so I didn’t rodeo my senior year. I worked instead so I could afford to go to college.”
Patty might have hung her competitive spurs up for a bit, but she never gave up her horses. Married to Chris, a veterinarian, makes it just a hair easier to keep lots of barrel prospects on the ranch. “Chris and I did a lot of team roping before we had kids. Then he got busy with his vet practice and we didn’t have much time for it. I started tinkering with the young horses, that has always been my passion.” When their boys – Blaine, now 23, and Sean, 21 – were younger, Patty took her horses to some futurities. “When Blaine was doing junior high and high school rodeo, I didn’t compete a whole lot. I was busy hauling him.” Blaine always competed on homegrown horses, just like Patty continues to do today.
“I am lucky enough to be married to a vet, and he bought me a weanling filly for Christmas one year.” That filly – French Heart Tu – is the dam of Patty’s current 8-year-old gelding, French Bugs Tu, by Famous Bugs. “After the boys grew up, I started having more time to compete again. I started going to 4D jackpots and this last year has been the first time I have rodeoed consistently.” Hitting more than 20 local open, NSRA and M-SRA rodeos in 2019 earned Patty a spot at the 2019 NSRA finals. “I didn’t futurity on my gelding in his 5-year-old year, but in his 6-year-old year he was consistently in the top ten. He is just a really honest horse, so I decided I would hit some rodeos with him.”
Although the finals last fall didn’t go as Patty had hoped, she was thrilled to have made it. She barely missed out on the M-SRA finals. She’s working hard to make both finals in 2020. “I was very fortunate that my horse won the Cornhusker Breeders Derby Maturity last year. It was probably our biggest accomplishment so far.” That confidence booster prompted Patty to take a leap of faith and apply for her WPRA permit. Although the competition is stiff, what makes Patty nervous about stepping up her barrel game is the time commitment and balancing act it will take. “I have a full-time job, so when the days get short it gets hard to get a couple horses ridden. I don’t have an indoor.” With a pasture full of cow calf pairs and backgrounding feedyard, Patty and Chris have a lot to take care of on a daily basis.
Lucky, their responsibilities on the ranch translate well to raising rodeo horses. “The horses we raise don’t just run barrels, rope or ranch; every horse does everything. They have the opportunity to show us what their talents are.” It’s a blessing few riders have in their back pocket, and one Patty is thankful for every day. “I can ride horses out in the pastures and do some real work with them. The more you can ride out in the open or go to a branding or go rope, the happier I believe the horse will be. They aren’t always doing the same thing, they aren’t bored. I think it has a huge impact on their overall disposition.”