Christina Mulford topped all three rounds of the First Frontier Circuit Finals in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, on Jan. 13—15, 2022 to capture her third straight year-end and finals aggregate titles.
Nestled in the small town of Franklinville, New Jersey is one of the most dominating barrel racing teams in the northeast. Christina Mulford and Panamascharlieharly, known as “Harly,” have been a force to be reckoned with since they paired up in 2017. Mulford and the gray 22-year-old gelding by Panama Edition out of Special Triangle have won four First Frontier year-end championships, and three FFCF average titles in that time.
Winning in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania isn’t something that is new to Mulford, but an adjustment to the pattern in 2022 caused Mulford to rethink her strategy.
“I classify Harley as a businessman. He knows what he’s there to do, it’s just that sometimes he needs a little more assistance than others,” Mulford said. “We had a few feet less to the first (barrel) this year, so for our first run, I just kind of let him cruise in there and get a feel for where the first was, but it honestly didn’t seem to make much difference to him.”
Once the first turn was out of the way in round one, Mulford knew it was smooth sailing through the rounds. Her goal of making smart runs served her well throughout the event. Mulford won all three rounds of the FFCF and her time of 42.84 seconds on three runs landed her nearly a full second ahead of Dawn Powell’s 43.76 in second place. Mulford’s efforts put $9,620 in her pockets to take home from the FFCF. Those earnings also moved her to the No. 12 position in the 2022 Women’s Professional Rodeo Association World Standings.
As for the year-end standings, Mulford finished out the 2021 season with $22,539 in winnings after attending 28 rodeos. The historic Cowtown Rodeo in Woodstown/Pilesgrove, New Jersey is a personal favorite of Mulford’s, and she captured the year-end for the series as well in 2021.
The duo may have punched their ticket to the NFR Open, but Harly will not be making the nearly 1,800-mile trek from New Jersey to Colorado Springs, Colorado. Between Harly’s age, the altitude adjustment, and the long distance, Mulford believes that it wouldn’t be in the gelding’s best interest to attempt the trip.
The NFR Open falls on July 14-16, 2022. Mid-July is the peak of a very short season for northeastern athletes, so Mulford and the other qualifiers from the First Frontier Circuit will have some difficult decisions to make before the summer months.
“That’s our time of year here,” said Mulford, a WPRA cardholder since 1999. “I’d be giving up the biggest part of our season here to make the trip out there.”
Keeping Harly healthy and happy is Mulford’s main priority. Her favorite exercises for the gelding include utilizing the half-mile track behind her property and riding Harly on trails to keep him fit. She always ensures to allow him to find a soft place to roll at rodeos because that is his favorite activity, and most of her time on the road is spent tending to him. Their special connection is one that has been observed by many, and they are sure to be an electric duo to watch in the 2022 season.
“Harly’s a once-in-a-lifetime horse; he’s just so cool. I’ll never find another horse like him,” Mulford said of her equine partner. “I walk out in the mornings, and there’s Harly is looking at me. In the barn, he’s the first one talking to me when I walk in. He’s my buddy.”
First Frontier Circuit Finals Results
1. Christina Mulford, 14.52-second run, worth $2,156
2. Jodi Mathews, 14.61-second run, worth $1,617
3. Karlee Benincasa, 14.71-second run, worth $1,078
4. April Masterson, 14.79 second-run, worth $539
1. Christina Mulford, 14.13-second run, worth $2,156
2. Dawn Powell, 14.35-second run, worth $1,617
3. April Masterson, 14.39-second run, worth $1,078
4. Jaime Fowler, 14.64-second run, worth $539
1. Christina Mulford, 14.19-second run, worth $2,156
2. Jodi Mathews, 14.38-second run, worth $1,617
3. Jaime Fowler, 14.41-second run, worth $1,078
4. Dawn Powell, 14.42-second run, worth $539
1. Christina Mulford, 42.84 seconds on three head, worth $3,235
2. Dawn Powell, 43.76 seconds on three head, worth $2,426
3. April Masterson, 43.91 seconds on three head, worth $1,617
4. Brooke Klinger, 44.12 seconds on three head, worth $809