HENDERSON Wraps up Southeastern Circuit Titles

By Tanya Krause
Condensed & Reprinted from:
Women’s Pro Rodeo News, January 2003

Heather Henderson, Middleburg, FL, wrapped up the Southeastern Circuit Championship by winning the first round of the Southeastern Circuit Finals Rodeo, held November 8-10 in Okeechobee, FL. Heather continued to excel throughout the finals, taking home the average championship as well.

“Winning the Circuit was definitely my biggest accomplishment,” the 22-year-old said. Modest words for someone who finished among the top 25 barrel racers in the country. Earlier in the year, Heather was among the WPRA’s elite, but injuries and shoeing problems dropped her to 23rd in the Jack Daniel’s World Standings with $31,594.83.

Heather’s journey to the WPRA began at the Florida NBHA State Finals two years ago. She had qualified for both the open and youth finals which meant putting 5 runs on her horse Delta Yeah. Susan Chadwick, Delta Yeah’s former owner, offered Heather the use of her horse Shesa Mergie.

“I won the first time I ran her,” Heather said. “We just clicked” Then in February Susan called out of the blue and said she was going to sell her. I wasn’t looking for another horse, but it was too hard to pass up a horse that I fit so well.”
Shesa Mergie, a 1992 bay mare, was a futurity standout, under the tutelage of Mary Burger, for Jerry and Betty Wells of Oklahoma before finding a home in Florida.
Heather filled her permit and bought her in time to qualify for the circuit finals in 2001. She finished fifth in the circuit after only having her card for just five weeks.
“Mergie is really little,” Heather said. “She is only 14.1 and weighs 900 pounds, she isn’t physically strong as a lot of other horses.”

After traveling to California, Heather hit a road bump in Gladewater, TX. Mergie pulled a stifle muscle on the first barrel leaving Heather to ride her young back-up horse.

However, shoeing problems continued to plague Mergie after her stifle muscle healed. Heather has recently tried glue-on shoes from Sound Horse Technology in Pennsylvania.

“She feels really different [with these shoes],” Heather said, “She feels really light on her feet.”

The difference in the mare really showed in the Circuit Finals. After winning the first round and wrapping up the Circuit title, Heather debated whether or not to ride her back-up horse [Disco]. Her decision to stay with Mergie paid off in a big way when she placed second in the second round and won the third with the fastest time of the event.

“I was 11th on the ground in the third round,” she said. “My friend, Robin Bavar, ran a 15.91 and she was up at the top of the ground, second or third on the ground. I was hoping to leave the barrels up. The more runs I make on my mare the more she shuts me out. I had a nice first barrel. She turned the second barrel really snappy, but she was shutting me out. I had to lift my leg up to keep from hitting it. I thought there was no way I was going to get by the third, but I got by it. When they called out a 15.89, I was really surprised; I was just hoping to keep the barrels up.”
Heather is looking forward to hitting the road again in 2003.

Reprinted with permission. Women’s Pro Rodeo News January 2003. 2112 Montgomery Street, Fort Worth, TX 76107 Ph: 817-737-6397; Fx: 9455; www.wrpa.com

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