story by BreAnne Benson The first time Riley Isbell competed in barrel racing was in Waco, Texas. She was in pre-school, on her first pony […]
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Meet the Member Brooklyn Stallone
story by Lindsay Humphrey
A 12-hour drive wasn’t going to keep Brooklyn Stallone from punching her ticket to the Junior World Finals in Las Vegas for a second year. The Peoria, Arizona, native traveled to King City, California, with her family to compete at a KK Run for Vegas qualifier. “Last year I qualified in Buckeye on Spartan, but then he ended up with EPM so I had to run with Hollywood in Vegas and we didn’t have the best runs there,” said the 12-year-old. “I knocked some barrels, but I was proud of my horse for trying her heart out. I just didn’t do my job very well for her.” Brooklyn’s heart horse – Spartan – has endured some tough trials since the duo teamed up only two years ago.
“Right after we bough Spartan, he got EPM. It’s been a big roadblock for me. He’s just now getting back to normal. We’ve had to do a lot of muscle rebuilding.” While in California, Spartan won the KK qualifier but Brooklyn’s other horse – Hollywood – came in second. She plans to run both in Vegas this year. Even though she’s made more runs on Hollywood, who’s proven to be old faithful, Spartan is Brooklyn’s once-in-a-lifetime horse. “I love him more than anything in the world. He has the best personality; he loves playing with those big balls in the roundpen.” The black gelding is so playful that Brooklyn can’t keep a blanket or back-on-track boots on him because he’ll play with them until they fall apart.
“He loves dogs and other animals, especially our puppy, Libby. She’ll grab the end of his lead rope and lead him around. And Spartan’s pretty lippy so he’ll have one end of the towel and play tug of war with Libby.” Even though Brooklyn has a long time before heading to Vegas, she’s already got her goals in place for the national stage. “I want to focus on getting myself and my equine athletes legged up so we can make clean and consistent runs.” Much like her peers, three clean runs and a shot at placing in the short go are her main goals. You can find Brooklyn out practicing every single day to help make those goals a reality. “I do a lot of drills both on and off the barrel pattern. My favorite one is called perfect circles.” Using cones set at different distances, Brooklyn aims to hit every point and create a perfect circle. Brooklyn learned this drill from her trainer, Jenna Duhon.
After getting Spartan over EPM, the team still had some kinks to work out. On a recommendation from a friend, Brooklyn started riding with Jenna. “She’s super patient with me and my horse. She knows my goals and has helped me achieve them. She’s never let me down.” Born into a family with minimal experience in the horse industry, Brooklyn’s been blessed with parents (Sabrina and Mike) who have invested in outside help. Brooklyn and her sister, Bella (14), started taking riding lessons at an early age. They never could’ve guessed those western pleasure lessons would lead to barrel racing at the Junior World Finals. “My family has been a huge part of my life and making sure I achieve all my goals. We used to board our horses, but my dad built a barn so we could have them at home.”
As a sixth grader at Stetson Hills Elementary School, Brooklyn is an avid competitor in the Arizona Junior High School Rodeo Association. She hits the rodeo trail with her older sister most weekends. “She also runs barrels and she’s helped make the sport a lot of fun for me. I’m so thankful that I’ve been blessed with incredible athletes and teammates in my horses, and my amazing family who help me do all this.”