Michelle Darling Kicks Off ProRodeo Summer with Three Checks, Two Wins, and One Palomino Mare

Michelle Darling won over $5,000 in three days aboard "Martini." See who else won big over the weekend.

Images by Phil Kitts

Michelle Darling won over $5,000 in three days aboard "Martini." See who else won big over the weekend.

Michelle Darling took Morning Traffic down the alleyway three times over the weekend and came out with three deep checks.

On June 2, her 17.63-second run in Strong City, Kansas held for the win and $1,407. Friday brought rain and heavy ground in Bennington, Kansas, where “Martini,” Darling’s 11-year-old daughter of Frenchman’s Guy out of Evening Traffic by Dash Thru Traffic, slipped at her first turn, but persevered to hold for a fourth-place check and $798. 

Sire Spotlight: Frenchman’s Guy

Saturday morning rolled around, and Darling nearly made a horse change before Fort Smith, Arkansas. 

“I thought about running my buckskin (Clares Fancy Firewater), but Martini was feeling so good. It was an indoor, the ground was great, and I drew top of the drag, so I had to run her,” Darling explained. 

It turned out to be a profitable decision. BarrelRacing.com coach Cheyenne Wimberley hung onto the lead all week, but Darling bumped Wimberley’s 16.64 and took first with a 16.61-second run, worth $2,953. As of June 1, Darling was seated No. 20 in the WPRA World Standings with $24,207.92, and her $5,158 weekend should help move her closer to a top 15 seat going into the summer run. 

The Long Haul: Don’t Let FOMO Sabotage Your Summer Run

Martini is no stranger to the Thomas & Mack, as Stevi Hillman took her on the ProRodeo trail and ran inside the little yellow building in 2016 during Darling’s pregnancy, but Darling is ready to jockey the mare there in 2022. She noted that for the past decade, Martini has been a special horse—but isn’t without her quirks. 

“Her heart is so big—she’s one in a million,” Darling said. “But she’s bad. We have to pony her off another horse to warm her up. She’s ornery, hard to get on—you’re safer on her back than anywhere else. She’s a fire breathing dragon, but she does her job.” 

Darling added her philosophy on “difficult,” horses. 

“I think the good ones have their quirks,” Darling said. “You just learn how to deal with that. You can’t break their little spirits, you just have to let them be ornery. If they think they’re big, and bad and tough, you just have to let them think that.”

Michelle Darling and Martini.

In 2021, Darling finished in the No. 33 position in the world standings. She was unable to hit the road full-time while she completed her nursing degree. Now, with her degree wrapped up, Darling plans to take her NCLEX before heading west for the summer. She noted that it’s been a weight off her shoulders. 

Darling was quick to thank her sponsors 5 Star Equine Products and Oxygen for helping her gear up for the summer run. Darling’s sons, Talon (18) and Case (9) will hold down the fort in Medford, Oklahoma, while Darling’s daughter, Demi (7) will be criss-crossing the country with her mom all summer. Darling is focusing on having fun with her daughter and not getting wrapped up in the world standings throughout the summer months. 

“I watch so many girls look at the standings and start panicking. Just do your job, let your horse do his, and it will fall into place if it’s meant to,” Darling said. 

Other Notable Wins

  • While Darling topped Fort Smith, Arkansas, Chani Graves took the win in Crossett, Arkansas with a 17.58-second run that earned her $2,069.
  • Resistol Rookie contender Presley Smith had a $3,625 weekend, winning both Mt. Pleasant, Texas, and Hugo, Oklahoma.
  • Top 15 cowgirl Stephanie Fryar had a solid weekend, placing deep in Durant, Hugo, and Mt. Pleasant to pocket $3,395.
  • Veteran Dena Kirkpatrick took the win in Clovis, New Mexico, worth $1,520.
  • Canadian rodeo action heated up in Alberta, with Bradi Whiteside winning $2,115 in 13.25 seconds within Leduc’s tiny coliseum, Janet Moen and Brooke Wills both earning $1,430 for their 16.42-second runs in Craigmyle, and Taylor Manning catching $1,614 with an 18.06-second run in Bonnyville.
  • On the West Coast, Katie Pascoe took a whopping $2,527 home from Santa Maria, California, thanks to a smoking 17.17-second run.
  • ProRodeo coverage is brought to you by our friends at Equinety.

Full Results

Santa Maria Elks Rodeo
Santa Maria, California, June 2-5

  1. Katie Pascoe, 17.17-second run, worth $2,527
  2. Emily Hannaford, 17.29-second run, worth $2,148
  3. Nellie Miller, 17.32-second run, worth $1,769
  4. Ali Anton, 17.50-second run, worth $1,516
  5. Kathy Petska, 17.62-second run, worth $1,263
  6. Oceana Champion, 17.63-second run, worth $884
  7. Hayle Gibson, 17.64-second run, worth $632
  8. Shelley Holman, 17.65-second run, worth $505
  9. Cheyenne Hattesen, 17.75-second run, worth $442
  10. Meghann McNulty, 17.77-second run, worth $379
  11. (tie) Taylor Arakelian, 17.78-second run, worth $284
    Kristi Youngblood, 17.78-second run, worth $284

Elizabeth Stampede Rodeo
Elizabeth, Colorado, June 4-5

  1. Kelly Yates, 16.08-second run, worth $1,784
  2. Alex Odle, 16.14-second run, worth $1,530
  3. Kim Schulze, 16.20-second run, worth $1,275
  4. Kelby Eastman, 16.29-second run, worth $1,105
  5. (tie) Reagan Laney, 16.39-second run, worth $765
  6. (tie) Christy Larsen, 16.39-second run, worth $765
  7. Peyton Stepanoff, 16.42-second run, worth $510
  8. CJ Vondette, 16.45-second run, worth $340
  9. Shali Lord, 16.47-second run, worth $255
  10. (tie) Chris Gibson, 16.48-second run, worth $85
    Lana Randall, 16.48-second run, worth $85

Leduc Black Gold Rodeo
Leduc, Alberta, June 2-5

  1. Bradi Whiteside, 13.25-second run, worth $2,115
  2. Taylor Manning, 13.35-second run, worth $1,798
  3. (tie) Lynette Brodoway, 13.37-second run, worth $1,375
  4. (tie) Lakota Bird, 13.37-second run, worth $1,375
  5. Jennifer Neudorf, 13.40-second run, worth $1,058
  6. Debbie Knudsen, 13.47-second run, worth $740
  7. (tie) Stacey Ruzicka, 13.53-second run, worth $476
  8. (tie) Bertina Olafson, 13.53-second run, worth $476
  9. Brook Wills, 13.55-second run, worth $370
  10. Diane Skocdopole, 13.56-second run, worth $317
  11. Tana Millard, 13.58-second run, worth $264
  12. Mariah Mannering, 13.61-second run, worth $212

Canyonlands PRCA Rodeo
Moab, Utah, June 3-5

  1. Jordan Argyle, 14.59-second run, worth $808
  2. Kailey Mitton, 14.85-second run, worth $702
  3. Jennifer Kalafatic, 14.96-second run, worth, $597
  4. Jimmie Smith, 14.99-second run, worth, $492
  5. (tie) Wendy McKee, 15.15-second run, worth $334
  6. (tie) CJ Vondette, 15.15-second run, worth $334
  7. (tie) Renae Cowley, 15.19-second run, worth $123
  8. (tie) DeAnna Critton, 15.19-second run, worth $123

Hand Hills Lake Stampede
Craigmyle, Alberta, June 4-5 (payout)

  1. (tie) Janet Moen, 16.42-second run, worth $1,430
  2. (tie) Brooke Wills, 16.42-second run, worth $1,430
  3. Kirby Penttila, 16.49-second run, worth, $1,100
  4. Shelby Spielman, 16.51-second run, worth, $953
  5. Bertina Olafson, 16.58-second run, worth, $733
  6. (tie) Lane Wills, 16.65-second run, worth $513
  7. (tie) Taylor Eller, 16.65-second run, worth $513
  8. Sheena Dunham, 16.66-second run, worth $293
  9. Diane Skocdopole, 16.67-second run, worth $220
  10. Kylie Whiteside, 16.70-second run, worth $147

Old Fort Days Rodeo
Fort Smith, Arkansas, May 30-June 4

  1. Michelle Darling, 16.61-second run, worth $2,953
  2. Cheyenne Wimberley, 16.64-second run, worth $2,510
  3. Shelley Morgan, 16.66-second run, worth $2,067
  4. Jana Guthrie, 16.68-second run, worth $1,772
  5. Ilyssa Riley, 16.69-second run, worth $1,477
  6. Sissy Winn, 16.70-second run, worth $1,034
  7. Sadie Wolaver, 16.74-second run, worth $738
  8. Laura Mote, 16.76-second run, worth $591
  9. Mallory Mcgee, 16.82-second run, worth $517
  10. (tie) Lacinda Rose, 16.84-second run, worth $406
  11. (tie) Kylee Scribner, 16.84-second run, worth $406
  12. Margo Crowther, 16.85-second run, worth $295

Crossett Riding Club. 74th Annual PRCA Rodeo
Crossett, Arkansas, June 1-4

  1. Chani Graves, 17.58-second run, worth $2,069
  2. Ashley Castleberry, 17.69-second run, worth $1,773
  3. Alex Dollar, 17.71-second run, worth $1,478
  4. Jamie Olsen, 17.75-second run, worth $1,281
  5. (tie) Katie Chism-second run, worth $887
  6. (tie) Sissy Winn, 17.94-second run, worth $887
  7. Josey Owens, 17.95-second run, worth $591
  8. Margo Crowther, 18.00-second run, worth $394
  9. Jennifer Sharp, 18.04-second run, $296
  10. Tami Semas, 18.05-second run, $197

Poineer Days Rodeo
Clovis, New Mexico, June 2-4

  1. Dena Kirkpatrick, 15.02-second run, worth $1,520
  2. Shannon McReynolds, 15.22-second run, worth $1,303
  3. Leia Pluemer, 15.24-second run, worth $1,086
  4. Emily Beisel, 15.29-second run, worth $941
  5. Christina Gould, 15.31-second run, worth $724
  6. Tarryn Lee, 15.35-second run, worth $579
  7. Shanna Means, 15.40-second run, worth $434
  8. (tie) Kelly Bruner, 15.43-second run, worth $253
  9. (tie) Tara Seaton, 15.43-second run, worth $253
  10. Lisa Anderson, 15.49-second run, worth $145

Durant Pro Rodeo
Durant, Oklahoma, June 3-4

  1. Paige Jones, 15.84-second run, worth $1,943
  2. Stephanie Fryar, 15.89-second run, worth $1,666
  3. Jeannie McKee, 15.90-second run, worth $1,388
  4. Taylor Johnson, 15.95-second run, worth $1,203
  5. Emilee Jackson, 15.97-second run, worth $925
  6. Ali Armstrong and Lisa Thornton, 16.08, $648 each
  7. Cheyenne Wimberley, 16.09-second run, worth $370
  8. (tie) Sable Emerson, 16.13-second run, worth $231 each
  9. (tie) Jamie Olsen, 16.13-second run, worth $231 each

Hugo Pro Rodeo
Hugo, Oklahoma, June 3-4

  1. Presley Smith, 15.32-second run, worth $1,995
  2. Paige Jones, 15.38-second run, worth $1,710
  3. Latricia Mundorf, 15.47-second run, worth $1,425
  4. Sadie Wolaver, 15.54-second run, worth $1,235
  5. Josey Owens, 15.55-second run, worth $950
  6. Natalie Bland, 15.58-second run, worth $760
  7. Ali Armstrong, 15.60-second run, worth $570
  8. (tie) Cassidy Champlin, 15.61-second run, worth $332 each
  9. (tie) Stephanie Fryar, 15.61-second run, worth $332 each
  10. Traci Nelson, 15.64-second run, worth $190

Cedar City Championship Rodeo
Cedar City, Utah, June 3-4

  1. Kristy Yerrington, 17.05 second-second run, worth $1,893
  2. Jimmie Smith, 17.48-second run, worth $1,623
  3. Jillette Atkinson, 17.49-second run, worth $1,352
  4. (tie) Amanda Butler, 17.58-second run, worth $1,037
  5. (tie) Darby Fox, 17.58-second run, worth $1,037
  6. Megan McLeod-Sprague, 17.60-second run, worth $721
  7. Macee McAllister, 17.61-second run, worth $541
  8. Teressa Peck, 17.63-second run, worth $361
  9. Halle DeWitt, 17.64-second run, worth $270
  10. Taycie Matthews, 17.72-second run, worth $180

Fort Herriman PRCA Rodeo
Herriman, Utah June 3-4

  1. Taycie Matthews, 17.37-second run, worth $1,311
  2. Shannon McReynolds, 17.43-second run, worth $1,123
  3. Megan McLeod-Sprague, 17.44-second run, worth $936
  4. Jennifer Barrett, 17.46-second run, worth $811
  5. Steely Steiner, 17.61-second run, worth $624
  6. Lauren Butler, 17.71-second run, worth $499
  7. Jimmie Smith, 17.74-second run, worth $374
  8. Halle DeWitt, 17.77-second run, worth $250
  9. McKenna Coronado, 17.79-second run, worth $187
  10. Amanda Butler, 17.81-second run, worth $125

Mt Pleasant Rodeo
Mt Pleasant, Texas, June 2-4

  1. Presley Smith, 15.35 second-run, worth $1,630
  2. Stephanie Fryar, 15.41-second run, worth $1,397
  3. Margo Crowther, 15.55-second run, worth $1,164
  4. Sarah Waguespack, 15.60-second run, worth $1,009
  5. (tie) Latricia Mundorf, 15.62-second run, worth $698
  6. (tie) Bayleigh Choate, 15.62-second run, worth $698
  7. Emilee Jackson, 15.66-second run, worth $466
  8. Jamie Olsen, 15.69-second run, worth $310
  9. Suzanne Brooks, 15.70-second run, worth $233
  10. Mickayla Brown, 15.75-second run, worth $155

Flint Hills Rodeo
Strong City, Kansas, June 2-4

  1. Michelle Darling, 17.63-second run, worth $1,407
  2. Katie Chism, 17.77-second run, worth $1,206
  3. Kricket Gintner, 17.88-second run, worth $1,005
  4. Emily Beisel, 17.98-second run, worth $871
  5. Jennifer Sharp, 18.00-second run, worth $670
  6. Taylor Johnson, 18.02-second run, worth $536
  7. Skyla Peters, 18.06-second run, worth $402
  8. Shannon Jensen, 18.10-second run, worth $268
  9. Torey Foemmel, 18.14-second run, worth $201
  10. (tie) Sandi Brandli, 18.18-second run, worth $67 each
  11. (tie) Leslie Smalygo,18.18-second run, worth $67 each

Cherokee Chamber PRCA Rodeo
Cherokee, Iowa, June 2-4

  1. Stephanie McCready, 15.47-second run, worth $1,320
  2. Sissy Warren, 15.60-second run, worth $1,131
  3. Danyelle Hovland, 15.82-second run, worth $943
  4. Alyssa Gabrielson, 15.88-second run, worth $817
  5. Patti Hovland, 15.97-second run, worth $628
  6. Sami Schumacher, 16.09-second run, worth $503
  7. (tie) Morgan Dalchow, 16.12-second run, worth $314
  8. (tie) Kaylee Lacina, 16.12-second run, worth $314
  9. Sandi Brandli, 16.16-second run, worth $189
  10. (tie) Kiley Dalchow, 16.20-second run, worth $63
  11. (tie) Sharon Munn, 16.20-second run, worth $63

Bennington PRCA Rodeo
Bennington, Kansas, June 2-4

  1. Emily Beisel, 17.55-second run, worth $1,289
  2. Tamara Reinhardt, 17.68-second run, worth $1,105
  3. Katie Chism, 17.78-second run, worth $921
  4. Michelle Darling, 17.81-second run, worth $798
  5. Leslie Smalygo, 17.83-second run, worth $614
  6. Tracy Nowlin, 17.87-second run, worth $491
  7. Taylor Johnson, 17.88-second run, worth $368
  8. Jamie Chaffin, 17.90-second run, worth $246
  9. Tammy Peterson, 17.92-second run, worth $184
  10. Cindy Gillespie, 17.94-second run, worth $123

Extreme Events Championship Rodeo
Waconia, Minnesota, June 3-4

  1. Kristen Meyer, 15.15-second run, worth $632
  2. Alyssa Gabrielson, 15.28-second run, worth $550
  3. Hallie Fulton, 15.37-second run, worth $467
  4. Fonda Melby, 15.40-second run, worth $385
  5. Shaw Nelson, 15.56-second run, worth $302
  6. (tie) Brooke Gaustad, 15.57-second run, worth $179
  7. (tie) Sissy Warren, 15.57-second run, worth $179
  8. Morgan Dalchow, 15.63-second run, worth $55

Bonnyville Pro Rodeo
Bonnyville, Alberta, June 3-4

  1. Taylor Manning, 18.06-second run, worth $1,614
  2. Dena Millard, 18.09-second run, worth $1,383
  3. Farrah Fogg, 18.10-second run, worth $1,153
  4. (tie) Jennifer Neudorf, 18.13-second run, worth $884 each
  5. (tie) Justine Elliott, 18.13-second run, worth $884 each
  6. (tie) Reata Schlosser, 18.22-second run, worth $538
  7. (tie) Mariah Mannering, 18.22-second run, worth $538
  8. Tristan Johner, 18.25-second run, worth $307
  9. (tie) Valerie Gillespie, 18.28-second run, worth $192
  10. (tie) Nancy Leischner, 18.28-second run, worth $192

Great NW Pro Rodeo
Klamath Falls, Oregon, June 3-4

  1. Chelsie Stodghill, 16.29-second run, worth $513
  2. Savannah Wirth, 16.36-second run, worth $447
  3. Olivia Train, 16.50-second run, worth $380
  4. Arley Hughes, 16.58-second run, worth $313
  5. Sharon Gow, 16.61-second run, worth $246
  6. Dominique Hart, 16.62-second run, worth $179
  7. Tanya Jones, 16.76-second run, worth $112
  8. Amanda Burns, 16.90-second run, worth $45

Atlantic Pro Rodeo
Atlantic, Iowa, June 3-4

  1. Sherry Cervi, 14.99-second run, worth $906
  2. Katie Chism, 15.00-second run, worth $788
  3. Danyelle Hovland, 15.04-second run, worth $670
  4. Shannon Jensen, 15.10-second run, worth $551
  5. Alyssa Gabrielson, 15.12-second run, worth $433
  6. Tasia Behnke, 15.14-second run, worth $315
  7. Shaw Nelson, 15.17-second run, worth $197
  8. Korrina Hughes, 15.18, -second run, worth $79

Mesquite Championship Rodeo
Mesquite, Texas, June 4

  1. McKenzie Morgan, 15.15-second run, worth $668
  2. Gabbie Grothe, 15.39-second run, worth $581
  3. (tie) Kelly Allen, 15.57-second run, worth $450
  4. (tie) Taylor Hanchey, 15.57-second run, worth $450
  5. Fallon Taylor, 15.6115.57-second run, worth $450 $320
  6. (tie) Deb Guelly, 15.66-second run, worth $189
  7. (tie) Shantell Hayes, 15.66-second run, worth $189
  8. Tiany Schuster, 15.67-second run, worth $58

Cowtown Rodeo
Woodstown Pilesgrove, New Jersey, June 4

  1. Beth Borowy, 17.72-second run, worth $513
  2. Kerri Frazier, 17.89-second run, worth $447
  3. Willie Horzepa, 18.01-second run, worth $380
  4. Brooke Klinger, 18.14-second run, worth $313
  5. Peyton Ridgely, 18.15-second run, worth $246
  6. Riley Shetron, 18.22-second run, worth $179
  7. Stephanie Dyer, 18.29-second run, worth $112
  8. Julie Boxler, 18.36-second run, worth $45

149th Silver Spurs Rodeo
Kissimee, Florida, June 3-4

  1. Sarah Williams, 15.91-second run, worth $575
  2. Wendy Culberson, 16.02-second run, worth $500
  3. Bobbie Alcazar, 16.08-second run, worth $425
  4. Lois Shelley, 16.20-second run, worth $350
  5. Brandi Heath, 16.34-second run, worth $275
  6. (tie) Layna Kight, 16.43-second run, worth $163
  7. (tie) Melissa O’Connor, 16.43-second run, worth $163
  8. Dallas Sawczak, 16.44-second run, worth $50