Happy Birthday Stryker!

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A year and a half ago, I first laid eyes on my prized pale pony – Stryker, aka: "The Rocket". The day he and I met was unforgettable. His owner unloaded him from the trailer and I froze. Time seemed to stand still. I was paralyzed by the raw power he exuded. Having only ridden slow, collected show horses my entire life, I thought I would be intimidated, even afraid of a high caliber, fire-breathing barrel horse like Stryker, but I wasn’t. He has always been the perfect gentleman.

I talked to my Mom about this chance encounter with greatness and even said I was just “trying him out for awhile while I made up my mind.” The truth was my mind was already made up once Stryker put his first hoof on the ground out of the trailer. The heart wants what the heart wants, right?  

Today is Stryker’s 9th birthday! In honor of the big guy’s special day, I have compiled some fun factoids about him!


- I call Stryker ‘The Rocket’ because he's so powerful. When he is ready to launch, it is all his jockey can do to hang on!

- He has some impressive bloodlines, such as Dash for Cash.

- Stryker is a political animal, if there is such an animal. His sire is owned by a member of the Utah State House of Representatives and his dam was owned by a member of the Utah State Senate. And I thought I was the premier political member of the family! 

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- His registered name is "Haulin' A". Fitting, right?

- His brand is a capital “A” with an arrow through it, making his registered name even more ironic.

- Stryker got his start on the race track. After that, he was trained as a team roping horse. Barrel racing is his third career move. This boy can do it all!

- My grey giant won the very first rodeo performance he was ever entered in, Elko, Nevada. That NEVER happens!

- Together we filled our WPRA permit in six rodeos, a very rare accomplishment.

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- Sorry young fillies, Stryker DOES have a girlfriend. He is never far from Gypsy, the most beautiful mare in our herd. They are always right next to each other in the pasture and when I bring Stryker home from rodeos, she is the first at the gate, whinnying her excitement at his return, then there is all that kissing!

- Do you believe in love at first sight? When I was shopping for a barrel horse, Stryker was the very first horse I ever looked at or tried. It was meant to be.

- Remember in the movie “Finding Nemo” that Nemo had a ‘special fin’? Well, so does Stryker. His front, right hoof has a permanent defect from an injury he sustained as a colt.

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- He does this funny thing when it is feeding time. He’ll curl his lip like Elvis Presley and chomp his teeth. He sure loves his grain!

- His favorite thing is booty scratches. He will even lean his entire weight into you if you start scratching him.

- Stryker is a massive American winning machine. He stands 16 hands tall and is a founding member of the #BigHorseMafia.

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This lean, mean, winning machine has been such a blessing in my life. I owe my fast start in my barrel racing career to him. Thanks to his raw talent and patience, we hit the ground running our debut year in rodeo and his tank is full of high octane for 2018.

Saddle up, Stryker! Let’s rodeo!

Renae´ Cowley