Phillips County News - One Nation, Under God

By Pierre Bibbs
Sports Editor 

Wright hosts barrel clinic


Carmel Wright takes a photo with Kenzie LaBrie during a barrel racing clinic last Wednesday. Photo by Chrissy McEwen.

Last Wednesday, June 24, 11 young barrel racers attended a clinic put on by Carmel Wright, a PRCA rider who has won many titles in the US and her native country New Zealand.

Wright, who has lived in Roy, Mont. with her husband Dave and their children since 2002, came to the Trafton Rodeo Arena to pay things forward to the next generation of Barrel Racers, not charging one cent for her instruction.

"It's about giving back to the community," Wright said. "Our children did junior rodeo. We used to come to this arena when they were kids and they had a blast."

Chrissy McEwen, who has been organizing the 2020 Malta Barrel Racing Series, was contacted by Wright to put on the clinic. McEwen with the help of locals in the ranch and rodeo community helped behind the scenes that day. She shared her observation of the students at the clinic.

"They really watched and listened to what she was teaching; even the little ones!" McEwen said. "It was a great experience for them!"

Wright, who has won five New Zealand Cowboy Association World Titles in barrel racing, moved to America in hopes to compete professionally.

Not having her horses from her home country, Wright trained up new horses, which complicated things on her professional journey in America. Still, Wright has won the Montana Circuit Finals in 2015 and 2018. In 2015 she won the Dodge National Circuit Finals, qualifying her for the Calgary Stampede.

"It has been a little bit of a struggle, having to train my horses from scratch, which is something that I prefer," said Wright. "It takes a long time, but I have had a lot of success with my horses and it has been awesome."

As a part of the Women's Professional Rodeo Association since 2009, Wright had seen success as one of the top riders in the country, garnering close to $200,000 in career earnings, according to the WPRA website.

At her clinic in Malta, Wright ran on a client's horse, leaving her horse at home. At the event in Malta, Wright focused on horsemanship and training her students in the barrel racing and pole bending.

Carmel Wright talks with Kallie LaBrie during a barrel racing clinic last Wednesday. Photo by Pierre Bibbs.

"Body position, hand position," Wright said. "You can't overload them too much at one time, so you have got to hit on a few of the basics."

Wright said that she lets a few things ride until they can get a handle on the first lesson, and then comes refinement. Her lesson started at 10 a.m. and concluded at about 3 p.m. In the group were 11 children ages 6 to around 16-years-old.

"It's kind of a big spread (in age and experience)," Wright said. "It makes it a bit harder as far as teaching goes, but that's how it goes in a smaller community."

Wright was asked what she thought of Phillips County during her visit.

"It's awesome," Wright said. "I love these little communities. Roy is a fraction of the size of Malta. People are great and it's a great place to be living."


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