- Ann Bleiker
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Barrel racer Kim Squires couldn't be happier that her first Pace Picante ProRodeo Chute-out appearance will be in her home state of Oklahoma. But then again, she was willing to go anywhere for a chance at $350,000.
Squires (Carnegie) will make the three-hour trip to Tulsa, along with several family members, for a shot at the title and a boost in the world standings that will help her realize her dream of competing at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo in December.
"I have wanted to get to the National Finals since I was a kid," Squires said. "I haven't been there to see it since it was in Oklahoma City 21 years ago and I have always said I wouldn't go to Vegas unless I made it. So here I am 21 years later, hoping to get there."
For Squires, rodeo was a natural fit for her.
Growing up in a ranching family and having a grandfather who was a top horse trainer gave her a good foundation. Squires' grandfather, the late Maurice (M.W.) Goodman, trained some world-class cutting, reining and roping horses and his talents were passed down through the generations. Squires' mother, Becky, as well as her father, Bob, taught her all they knew about horses and she has carried on the tradition of becoming a top barrel horse trainer.
Squires has three horses that she has raised and trained herself, and this year she is finally seeing the fruits of her labor.
"I have always had a slow start, so this year I wanted to get after it early," the 38-year-old said. "I was fortunate that the rodeos I did well at this year were all Tour rodeos."
For Squires, having three horses of equal caliber can sometimes feel like a two-edge sword.
"It is nice to have three horses to choose from, but it also takes time to figure out which one to use in different situations," Squires said. "After going last year and donating my money, I feel like this year I have a better grasp on which horse to use."
The horse she has won the most on at the Tour rodeos is her 7-year-old palomino she calls Casper. He was the horse she rode to the average win at the Laughlin (Nev.) River Stampede the first of April.
However, she considers her 9-year-old palomino horse, Pigme, to be her best all-around horse. In fact, Pigme was a rope horse before he was a barrel horse and even though he is small in stature, she says he is mighty in heart and try. Unfortunately for Squires, he has been on the injured reserve list all year with a shoulder injury.
She is debating whether to use Pigme in Tulsa, but might instead call upon her 8-year-old sorrel horse, Ears, which has been sharing time with Casper on the rodeo road this year.
It might be a game time decision for Squires, who no doubt has the experience to handle pressure situations. A former Elgin, Okla., basketball standout, Squires won all-area honors in 1985 and says she feels she is a better competitor for having competed in high school sports.
"Looking back, I believe that basketball helped me be a better rodeo person by learning how to compete under pressure," Squires said. "I spent a lot of my time playing basketball in school. I knew rodeo would be there long after basketball because we didn't have the WNBA back then. Of course, I doubt I would have ever made it because I was pretty slow, but there just wasn't the opportunity."
After high school, Squires went to college on a rodeo and academic scholarship. She received her undergraduate from Tarleton State University in Stephenville, Texas, where she competed on the rodeo team. She later earned her Masters in Business Administration at Oklahoma City University.
"I am a highly educated barrel racer," joked Squires. "The education was important to me and it will be something I will always have."
Squires is hoping for a big payday in Tulsa to not only move her up in the world standings but also so she might be able to stay home more this summer and serve as the third base coach for her son's coach-pitch baseball team.
"I was hoping to do well in these Tour rodeos so I didn't have to take off during the baseball season," Squires said. "I missed his soccer season but I am hoping to be home more this summer and get a chance to coach third base."
While she is out on the road, her husband, Barry and son, Kade, keep things running on the family ranch. Besides being in the cattle business, her husband is a full-time lawyer.
"They are excited about my success this year and have supported me on my quest to the Finals," said Squires of her family. "There will probably be a good number of family members in Tulsa cheering me on."
So what is Squires' mindset as she heads into her first Pace Chute-out?
"The main thing is to just get around the barrels," Squires said. "If you knock one over, you are out. It doesn't matter how fast you are if you knock one over."
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