Michele McLeod moved from Temecula to Texas in 2005, and during mid-May of this year she won the Barrel Racing event at rodeos in both northern Texas and Southern California.
McLeod rode Kellies Chick, informally known as Skye, to win the May 14-17 Santa Rosa Roundup in Vernon, Texas. She rode Slick By Design, who is owned by Charlie Cole and Jason Martin, at the May 16-18 Ramona Rodeo. During the week she also placed eighth on Slick at the May 15-17 Las Vegas Elks Helldorado Days rodeo in Nevada and partnered with Slick for fourth-place money at the May 17 Wrangler Champions Challenge in Redding, California.
“I had like a $6,000 week,” she said.
McLeod’s actual earnings from the four rodeos totaled $6,090. Her $27,739.79 of 2014 season earnings following the weekend placed her eighth in the world standings; if she is in the top 15 at the September 30 end of the season she will qualify for her second consecutive National Finals Rodeo.
McLeod did not participate in rodeo full-time until 2013. She began riding Slick in April 2013 and purchased Skye in July 2013. McLeod filled her Women’s Professional Rodeo Association permit in 2004 by earning the necessary $1,000 and obtained her WPRA card in 2005.
McLeod, who was born in Valencia and grew up in Camarillo, moved from Santa Maria to Temecula in 1993 due to equestrian opportunities. She now lives in Whitesboro, Texas, which has a population of approximately 3,800 and is about 65 miles northeast of Dallas.
Vernon is approximately 190 miles northwest of Dallas. The Santa Rosa Roundup included a May 13 morning slack session. McLeod and Skye had a run of 17.36 seconds.
“Vernon turned out great for me,” McLeod said. “She made a great nice solid run there.”
McLeod placed second at Vernon in 2013 while on Slick with a run of 17.30 seconds. McLeod’s 2014 time held up as the fastest; Tanna Poppino placed second at 17.37 seconds. The first-place position was worth $1,328 in earnings for McLeod.
McLeod followed her run in Vernon with an airplane flight to San Diego. Cole and Martin had taken Slick to Del Mar for a horse show, and on May 14 McLeod picked up a truck in Del Mar and then drove to Bonsall to borrow a trailer from Linda Stenerson, who was the National Barrel Horse Association district director when McLeod lived in Temecula.
“I was excited to be back on Slick,” McLeod said.
After loading Slick into the trailer, McLeod drove to Las Vegas, where she ran in the May 15 evening performance.
“It was really deep,” she said of the ground.
Her time of 15.03 seconds led after that night, which was the rodeo’s first performance, but McLeod was aware that subsequent riders might have better ground.
“I had a feeling it would get a lot faster,” she said. “I was just hoping I could hang on, which I did, for a check.”
The Las Vegas rodeo paid the top twelve Barrel Racing positions. Eighth place gave McLeod $553. Rachel Primm had the fastest time of the rodeo, running the course in 14.56 seconds.
McLeod drove all day May 16 to reach Redding, which had the May 14-16 Redding Rodeo as well as the invitational Wrangler Champions Challenge. She was in the Friday night slack May 16 for the Redding Rodeo, although her time did not place.
“The ground was a little bit deeper,” she said.
McLeod was the first rider Saturday night at the Wrangler Champions Challenge.
“I was glad about that,” she said.
McLeod and Slick had a time of 17.43 seconds. “He made a really good run,” McLeod said.
Carlee Pierce and Christy Loflin tied for first with runs of 17.37 seconds, but McLeod earned the fourth-place $2,080 check. “I was really happy with that,” McLeod said.
McLeod then drove all night to reach Ramona for the Sunday afternoon performance May 18. Fallon Taylor – who also lives in Whitesboro – and Kassidy Dennison of Tohatchi, New Mexico, were leading the rodeo with times of 16.35 seconds when McLeod made her run.
McLeod, who was the eighth rider May 18, took the lead with a run of 16.32 seconds. “The run at Ramona was a really nice solid run. I was pretty happy with it,” McLeod said.
McLeod had never placed at a California rodeo until winning the 2013 Ramona Rodeo. First place at Ramona gave McLeod $2,139. Taylor and Dennison split second and third at Ramona.