Q&A with Top Shelf Breeders Incentive Organizers Lexie Goss and Rachelle Smith-Mose

Learn about the new Top Shelf Incentive program and what its organizers are hoping to offer the barrel racing industry.

Photograph courtesy Lexie Goss

Learn about the new Top Shelf Incentive program and what its organizers are hoping to offer the barrel racing industry.

Barrel Racing Magazine: Who comprises Top Shelf Breeders, and what are you hoping to achieve through the development of this new incentive?

Top Shelf Breeders: Top Shelf Breeders is a program created by people who live on the West Coast and who have been involved in the industry for many years. The founders are raising, training, and barrel racing and see a need for a program that caters to West Coast 4D and rodeo competitors.

Barrel Racing Magazine: How is the Top Shelf Incentive program different from other barrel racing breeders’ incentives?
Top Shelf Breeders: Our program is set apart as we are allowing any stallion or mare to be enrolled, grandfathering the progeny into the incentive. By not restricting bloodlines we will be able to see the top horses run and compete. The stallions can opt into our stallion auction and the mares may enroll in our embryo auction. We want to showcase breeders big and small.

Barrel Racing Magazine: Why did you develop this incentive and who do you hope will take advantage of this new program?
Top Shelf Breeders: We developed the incentive with the idea that when you breed, raise, and train barrel horses, the one year that is being promoted to win the most money is their futurity year. The open jackpots aren’t paying enough, so most people do try to rodeo or sell after that year. Not all of us are paid futurity riders, and we want to keep competing on these horses. Top Shelf Breeders wants to increase payouts for both the open 4D and open rodeos, as long as the horse is paid into our program. We are also putting on an annual event in Reno, Nevada, with a payout of over $300,000. We know that people will see the value in the program and want to run for extra money or be a part of receiving extra money by paying in their stallion or mare.

Barrel Racing Magazine: Your promotional materials describe Top Shelf as a West Coast incentive program? Did you develop it in this way to fill an industry void that exists on the West Coast specifically? If so, please elaborate.
Top Shelf Breeders: The West Coast has some great breeders, barrel racers, and producers. The idea of driving three days, one-way for huge shows isn’t always an option for people. We are trying to increase payouts for the races we currently have with more side-pots, helping the industry as a whole. Of course, in 2020 we had a lot of setbacks out West with races being canceled, which wiped out a few big races due to venue restrictions. Now as we are into 2022, we are open, and we want to get rolling on the possibilities. The more money on the table, the more these finished athletes and prospects bring when sold.

Barrel Racing Magazine: When and Where will Top Shelf Incentive races happen and what can people plan for when breeding Top Shelf-eligible progeny?
Top Shelf Breeders: Our Stallion Auction takes place March 1-15, 2022. We have side-pots planned at bigger 4D events and open rodeos throughout 2022. The more stallions and mares participating, the bigger the incentive will be. I mentioned above how we have an annual event in Reno, Nevada. That event will be November 2-6!

Barrel Racing Magazine: How can people find you and get involved?
Top Shelf Breeders: Top Shelf Breeders has a Facebook page, and a lot of details are posted on our website, www.topshelfbreeders.com. The website is set up and you can easily get your horses nominated there. We are going to have a booth set up at races, the soonest one will be at the Royal Crown in Buckeye, Arizona.

Barrel Racing Magazine: What else would you like people to know about Top Shelf?
Top Shelf Breeders: We want to give everyone a chance at being part of an incentive created for 4D barrel racers and rodeo contestants. We have been producing races in Oregon, and we feel that there are a lot more folks out there who want to work together. We are building an incentive that includes horse owners, riders and sponsors that want to see the industry bloom on the West coast.