by Christine HamiltonThe American Quarter Horse Journal
The earth moved during the senior barrel racing finals at the2011 AQHA World Championship Show, as another aftershock rumbled through North Central Oklahoma. There have been a series of regional quakes in recent days.
But P.J. Burger doesn’t remember it all that much; she had too much else on her mind.
“It felt like an earthquake just winning the world!” she says to the Journal, after piloting Charlie Cole and Jason Martin’s homebred mare Rockette Ta Fame, aka “Rockette,” to the world championship in senior barrels.
“I’ve been second, and I’ve been third. This is my first time to win (an AQHA world championship),” says the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo competitor from Pauls Valley, Oklahoma. “It’s awesome; it’s unbelievable.”
Brittany Pozzi and AQHA Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association Horse of the Year Yeah Hes Firen came out of the prelims with the fastest qualifying time – a 16.846. But P.J. and Rockette weren’t far behind, sitting fifth with a 16.921.
“I had a really, good solid run in the prelims,” PJ says, “I was tickled.”
The plan coming into the finals was simple: “To go for it. Give it your all, and you’ve got nothing to lose. Just send her in there and hang on.”
Eleventh in the go, their 16.422 combined with the prelims time gave them the win. Brittany Pozzi won the reserve with her mare, French Covergirl, and took third with Yeah Hes Firen.
“She’s just free and easy, and wants to please you,” P.J. says of the mare. “I’ve taken her on the pro rodeo trail. Last year we went into Canada some; this year, we stayed more in the United States, went to the West Coast and back… Inside, outside; she kind of likes a little bit of everything.”
The AQHA world is more than familiar with Rockette’s owners’ all-around accomplishments. Jason and Charlie have trained and coached multiple world champions in several western and English events through their Highpoint Performance Horses in Pilot Point, Texas. The speed events are their hobby, and they got into the speed events about 12 years ago.
“It’s totally for our fun and enjoyment,” Charlie says. “The first (barrel horse) I bought was Rockette’s uncle, her mother’s full brother. From then on, I’ve just enjoyed it. It’s my hobby, but if I have a really good one, I get a great rider like P.J. to ride it.”
Rockette’s dam, Rods Last Ladybug, aka “Boomette,” won the 2004 junior barrels world championship and the 2005 reserve in the senior. This is Rockette’s second World Show appearance. She finished third in the 2010 junior barrels.
Asked what’s similar about his speed event horses and the all-arounders, Charlie responds, “Good training…. On all the barrel horses we’ve started…we just try to put a really good foundation on them and then really good training.
“And then, of course, the best jockey,” he adds, giving P.J. a hug, “and I’ve got the best jockey!”
As for Rockette’s future plans, he continues, “P.J. is qualified for all the winter rodeos on her, and we’re going to go that route on her again. There is a pretty good chance she might be at the NFR in a couple of weeks – we’ll know in the next couple of days. Maybe she’ll be in Las Vegas, which will be pretty exciting for both of us.”
The best part of the win for Charlie and Jason both is the fact that Rockette is a homebred.
“That’s definitely the most exciting part for me because I’ve had her since Day 1,” Charlie says. “I’ve always thought she was special. A really good friend of mine, Dave Stinson, put all the starting training on her, and he always thought she was special; and then I had her with Charmayne James for a short period, and she told me she was an NRF-caliber horse…. P.J. has brought it all out of her.”
Charlie admits he’s particular about naming the speed horses.
“I always name them something, to where if they do make it to (a big even), I want to hear that name – I liked the name Rockette. It sounds good to me.”
P.J. Burger and Rockette Ta Fame win the 2011 senior barrels world championship. (Journal photo).