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Meet the Member Whitley Sharp
story by Ruth Nicolaus
A phone call in December 2020 changed Whitley Sharp and her husband’s lives.
The Idaho Cowboys Association barrel racer called the Rice family in Texas about breeding to their stud, Chiquita Cat.
One phone conversation later, Whitley and her husband, Jared, owned the stud.
So the horse came to Idaho, and the Sharps became part owners of Outback Stallion Station this year.
But Whitley’s story starts as a youngster in Boardman, Oregon, where she was on a horse “pretty much from the time I could walk,” she recalled. Her family roped and ran barrels, so she grew up in the sport.
She competed in Oregon High School Rodeo with parents who “always went the extra mile to put me on a good horse,” she said. “In high school rodeo, I learned how to win and lose. It was a good experience.”
After high school graduation in 2011, she attended Oregon State University, where she met her husband. They graduated in 2015, she with an ag science degree and Jared with a doctor of veterinary medicine degree.
They moved to Mansfield, Texas in 2016 for Jared’s work, but missed family and friends, so, in December of 2017, they moved back to the Northwest, to Parma, Idaho.
Whitley became familiar with Chiquita Cat when she purchased a bay gelding, Yoda Cat, out of the stud. Yoda was raised by Tag and Natalie Rice, who are known for their cutting horse program in Texas. The gelding was first a cutter, then later became a successful barrel horse, winning with some of the best trainers and against the most elite horses in the futurity world.
She loved what she saw in Yoda, using him as her primary barrel horse and placing on him at several rodeos.
“I just basically fell in love with him, his personality, and how he works,” she said. “We liked him so much we wanted to breed to his dad.” So Whitley called the family in Texas that owned him, the Rices, and asked to buy a couple of breeding contracts to him.
“Somehow, in the midst of the conversation, we ended up purchasing Chiquita Cat himself,” she chuckled. “We were on vacation and we were like, ‘I guess we just bought a stud horse.’”
Whitley said it was the best decision they ever made. “He’s produced some amazing horses, and he’s made some phenomenal cutters, rope horses and barrel horses. We were fortunate enough to experience what he produces on the barrel horse end.”
Whitley spends her days as the manager at Outback Stallion Station; she and Jared are part owners of the station, while Jared is a veterinarian at the Idaho Equine Hospital.
“I never would have thought this is where I’d end up,” she said, “but it’s grown to be a huge passion of mine. It’s been really fun to see a successful business through and do something I love every day.”
Yoda Cat “is just an amazing animal. He’s a big-boned cow horse who is very stocky and extremely athletic. Most people would see him and think he would make a phenomenal calf horse or head horse. He has a lot of muscle to him.”
He has a lot of try, too, Whitley said. “He’s just the kindest horse, and one of those horses that is tough. He will try his heart out, no matter what the conditions are. He gives it his all every time you go through the gate.”
Whitley became an ICA member in 2018 and usually goes to more barrel races and futurities than rodeos because of the ease of taking multiple head for a weekend. She loves the rodeo atmosphere, though. “It’s a goal of mine, to rodeo consistently enough to make the ICA finals and prove (her horses) can hold their own at rodeos.”
She loves listening to podcasts, enjoying a variety of them, including The Money Barrel, the Gauge by Chance Conrado, and Ed Mylett’s podcasts.
“I’m one of those people who is constantly trying to learn and improve. Everyone gives me a hard time, because when I’m working or out doing things, I have a podcast on.”
Podcasts are great, she said. “It’s awesome to have knowledge right at the tips of your fingers. It’s nice to do things, be productive, and still be learning at the same time.”
In addition to the ICA, Whitley is a WPRA member and also competes in the Southern Idaho Barrel Racing Association.