Written by: Siri Stevens< Back to Articles
D’Ann Gehlsen from Mission, South Dakota, has been barrel racing since she was ten. “I started riding when I was three and showed horses and switched to the speed events,” said the 54-year-old program technician for Farm Service Agency. D’Ann has a 32 mile commute to work and works nine hour days. She has every other Friday off, and that helps with traveling to barrel racing. “In 2016 I went to Badland Circuit Rodeos and had a futurity horse, plus I went to SDRA and NRCA rodeos; so that put a lot of miles on. I picked the amateur rodeos this year and good added money three day barrel races to save the miles on myself and horses. I had a great summer, I ran Radar at 15 rodeos and he placed at 10 and ran Flyer at 3 rodeos and he placed at all three!
Her biggest win was last year with her favorite horse, nine-year-old Radar (Streaking Sonofagun). “He won every round, the average saddle and the year-end buckle of the Northwest Ranch Cowboys Association,” she said. “2016 was a stand-out year for him – he won that and a couple others – the Black Hills Stock Show Rodeo, the Breeders and the Open Derby/Maturity at the Cornhusker, the 1D average at the 5-States and qualified for the Badlands Circuit Finals. We won the target shoot out at the West Fest barrel race for running the same time in both rounds, the use of a stock combo trailer for a year.” I was invited to run at the Colorado vs World rodeo at the Denver Stock Show in January of 2017.
Radar has lifetime earnings of $83,000; not bad for an unplanned gelding. “I had a full brother to him on the mare (Gunny) at the time and I had taken her to Valentine to have her ultra sounded. The vet told me she needed to be bred within a day or two and Streaker was standing at the vet clinic in Ainsworth, Nebraska. I hadn’t planned on another Streaker colt, but it was the best thing that ever happened. He’s a special horse – he’s one of those horses that I feel very fortunate to have in my lifetime.”
Radar was born on a rainy Memorial Day. “My husband, Speed, imprinted him – he did too good of a job because Radar is very personable and in your space.” When he turned two, Gabe Taylor, a steer wrestler, took him for a month to start him. “He called me within the first two weeks and said I had a really nice horse – he was easy and wanted to do everything. If I could custom order a horse, this was it – the first time I rode him, I liked him.” He got his nickname, Radar, because of his ears and the way he looks around and checks things out. He continued his career as a futurity horse in 2013. “He did good – he was very competitive,” said D’Ann. “The next year, I alternated him and Flyer at the rodeos, and then he got an injury and was out for six months.” At 16.2 hands and weighing in at 1,450, Radar is big for barrel racing. His mother, Gunny was out of Back To Cash and a goes back to Go Man Go on the maternal side. She was the size of Go Man Go and all of her colts are big horses. “He stopped the clock at the 2016 Black Hills Stock Show Rodeo at 12.46, winning it – that was unbelievable for that little arena.”
This year, Radar took her to the average win at the Mid-States Rodeo Assn Finals and the duo has been consistent all year. “He has a lot of heart and arrogance – he knows he’s cool and wants to get the job done – he’s just that type of horse.”
D’Ann met her husband, Speed, at a rodeo. “A week later he called me and we’ve been together for 24 years this January.” He used to team rope and still does for fun. He goes to some of the closer rodeos with D’Ann, but for the most part, it’s D’Ann, dogs Murry and Tink and three horses. “We have a cow/calf operation southeast of Mission, South Dakota.” Along with Radar and Flyer, D’Ann has young colts coming along.
Radar isn’t going anywhere. “He’s a very special horse to me – he makes barrel racing fun, he wants to do his job and do it well. He is also the last of the line. His mother was put down in October of 2016.” Although D’Ann doesn’t have set goals, she sees herself going to the American someday. “I’m going to keep doing what I do – going to my favorite rodeos and the bigger barrel races that pay good. Life is very good in my world.”