Ivy Saebens makes a double-digit rankings jump into strong contention for her sixth Wrangler National Finals Rodeo thanks to the equine dream team of J-Lo and daughter Reba.
Road savvy professional barrel racer and Barrelracing.com coach Ivy Saebens is shrewdly navigating a year-end journey that hopes to find her among the top 15 come December. At 16th ($969 shy of No. 15), she’s right about there. The Nowata, Oklahoma cowgirl moved from 45-ish in the world as of July 14 to No. 16 as of standings tabulated on July 25 with $47,293 in large part thanks to Calgary Stampede earnings. The 2019 Reserve Women’s Professional Rodeo Association World Champion and National Finals Rodeo champion has another $2,825 from Cheyenne Frontier Days, which she won riding KN Streak N Fabulous, aka “Reba,” as well as $4,292 from Ogden Pioneer Days in Utah not yet counted. With Cheyenne still going and Ogden having not concluded until this Monday, those win checks aren’t yet tallied, but very unofficially put her at $54,410.
We caught up with Saebens the day after she was up at Eagle, Colorado’s ProRodeo to gain a little insight into how her winning tandem is handling the summer rodeo run and what her stretch run looks like in the roughly 60 days that remain of rodeo’s regular season.
“It went good,” she said. “I’m winning third on Reba, so pretty exciting!”
When asked if she’s been surprised at all by Reba’s adept transition to rodeo, Saebens says she managed her personal expectations going in—as one would with any young horse—but is thrilled with how the 6-year-old roan is taking things in stride.
“What’s really crazy is that I had no expectations with Reba at all going into the big summer rodeos because she’s kind of a fractious horse and I didn’t know how much time she’d need,” said Saebens. “She did okay at Ponca City (Oklahoma, in June), it didn’t feel like the perfect run but placed fifth I think because she’s just so fast. Then she places at Red Lodge (Montana) and Belle Fourche (South Dakota) over the Fourth, which just kind of blew me away. It’s so cool to have both mares.”
“I can’t even explain to you how exciting it was to do that well in the first round at Cheyenne,” said Saebens. “I had in-depth conversations with several people prior to making that run because I had major anxiety about that decision. J-Lo had done so amazing at Calgary and she deserved a break, but I had no idea how well Reba would step up. But then look at how well she handled Evergreen (Colorado, in June where she won second). She’s proving she can handle rodeo ground and rodeo setups that aren’t necessarily easy. Then at Ogden last week, running a 17.04 to win fourth behind Jordon’s arena record and Kassie [Mowery].”
Knowing full well what she needed to do in Calgary, Saebens was pleased to see the confidence she has in J-Lo pay world standings dividends.
“At Calgary J-Lo was so amazing,” she said. “She loves it there; we’ve done well there in the past, so I was definitely optimistic about going. Billie Jack was like, ‘Are you sure you want to put all your eggs in the Calgary basket?’ But I had a lot of confidence and J-Lo came through for me in an amazing way.”
Saebens, who says she typically enters for Pool A, added that she was a little bit surprised at this year’s payout structure versus past years.
“I’ve actually won more money in the past than I did this year,” she said. “I’m not complaining, it was just a different payout structure than when I’ve done well there in the past. Pool B was so tough.”
Saebens has the two mares and a stallion in her rig for the remainder of her season and added that it’s no easy task hauling a stud.
“It’s tricky,” said Saebens, “but we’re making it work. This is my favorite time of year and I’m excited to have such great horses. I’m doing the fair run in Colorado and then I’m going up to the Northwest. I love those rodeos, the ground’s great, the rodeos up there are some of my favorites.”