Tara Stimpson & Painted Fling

by Siri Stevens

Tara Stimpson from Lodge Grass, Montana, won the Montana Circuit Finals in barrel racing for the second year in a row. “There are lots of good horses in this circuit and a lot of girls that could go on and make the NFR,” said the 24-year-old who is fortunate to be running one of those good horses – Painted Fling sired by a Streak of Fling from Fulton Family Performance Horses.
“He came from Sara Cheeney, who trains futurity horses,” explained Tara. “I bought my other good barrel horse, Peanut, from Sara, and I’d watched Painted Fling at some futurities and bought him two years ago. I’ve never gotten along with psycho horses and he’s real quiet. Nothing really bothers him too much – he’s real push style and he’s been pretty easy to ride.”
Tara started competing in 8th grade. “I’d always rode horses on the ranch, and since I didn’t grow up in a rodeo family, we didn’t do it. Both of my older sisters wanted to but we couldn’t take the time or money to go.” The family ranch, Stimpson and Brothers, located in Lodge Grass, is located 45 minutes north of Sheridan and an hour and a half from Billings. “I had some friends in middle school that rodeoed and I jumped in with them with an old ranch horse and that’s how it started.” She joined the Wyoming High School Rodeo Association her sophomore year in high school. “I was a way better roper through high school than a barrel racer. I almost made the National High School Finals my senior year in the team roping.”
Her mare, Peanut, is the horse that lit a fire under Tara for barrel racing. She bought Peanut her junior year at MSU Northern, and she got Tara going to where she wanted to do more with barrel racing than roping. Now, she ropes at the brandings and occasionally at a breakaway roping. “I sold all of my good rope horses to buy Peanut.”
This will be her second trip to Florida, which according to Google Maps, is a 34 hour drive. “The hospitality there is great – what they do for everybody is fun.” She will break up her trip this year by stopping first at the American Semi Finals where she is qualified to make a run at the AMERICAN.
Although she spends as much time as she can going to rodeos, she has an obligation to the ranch. “I come back and help my dad with his cows and my cows as much as I can.” One of her goals is to make a run for the NFR, and she plans to go to a few winter rodeos in Texas to see how it goes. “If it goes well, I’ll keep going. I’d like to get out of my comfort zone and go to some of the bigger rodeos.”
Her family is behind her 100% of the way. “My mom, Tana, and my sisters, Stephanie and Ashley, were in Florida with me last year.” Her dad, Dale, stays home to run the ranch. “It’s hard to leave – it’s my home, but I want to try for the NFR someday.”

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