Wrangler National Finals Rodeo: Barrel Racing

CP Dark Moon and Amberleigh Moore get buckles in two of first four NFR rounds.

AQHA Media

CP Dark Moon and Amberleigh Moore in Round 4 (PRCA/Hubbell photo)

After a somewhat disastrous – though, injury-free – go in Round 1 of the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo, CP Dark Moon and Amberleigh Moore cowgirled up and won gold buckles rounds 2 and 4.

In Round 1, “Paige” and Amberleigh had a near-wipeout on a barrel, but Amberleigh stayed in the saddle and Paige came out of the near-catastrophe without a scratch.

The scrappy duo gathered themselves up and came back to win and set an arena record in Round 2, place third in Round 3 and then won again in Round 4.

"I took a deep breath before I came up the alleyway because last night took a little bit of wind out of my sail," Amberleigh said after winning Round 2. "I'm very happy for tonight."

The barrel racer, who holds the NFR earnings record, won Round 2 in a round record time of 13.54 seconds, besting the previous record (set by Sherry Cervi in 2013) by .12 seconds.

CP Dark Moon and Amberleigh Moore won rounds 2 and 4 at the 2017 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo (PRCA/Hubbell photo)

"Being top of the ground (second out) definitely was an advantage, I feel," Amberleigh said. "Tonight, Paige readjusted how she ran and adapted to the ground and got it done."

Eight-year-old Paige is by Darkelly and out of SRQH New Highs by On A High. The mare was bred by Chuck and Barbara Snellman of Helena, Montana. Paige’s sire, Darkelly, is an AQHA Superior racehorse with a race record of four wins, nine seconds and two thirds out of 24 starts. Paige’s race-bred dam is by AQHA Superior racehorse On A High, who had nine wins, six seconds and four thirds in 24 outs. On A High won more than $1 million on the track. The 1981 own son of Dash For Cash won the prestigious All American Futurity and went on to sire money earners of nearly $10 million.

Amberleigh has had Paige, who has nearly $340,000 in barrel racing earnings according to AQHA's Robin Glenn Pedigrees, since age 3.

“She futuritied, derbied, we did some amateur rodeos … I bought my card three years ago,” Amberleigh explained.

Amberleigh found Paige by accident.

“I had four horses in my barn that had gotten hurt,” she explained. “That was May of 2012. I told my husband, that I needed to go shopping for a new horse. I went over to Cody Hyde’s to try Paige and he had me try out 10 other horses, but I kept coming back to her because I used to have a horse named ‘Phillip’ whom I rode and who was black, and the first time I sat on Paige, it was like stepping on him. So she came home with me. It was meant to be from Day 1.”

"I also do gymkhana and she runs these small patterns all the time,” Amberleigh said. “At those events, there are a lot of the distractions, just like the distractions at the NFR. So my futurity horses – by the time they get ready to go to the NFR – are used to all of those distractions and the small patterns. They’re ready to go.

“I said I’d never play in the pro rodeo world until the right horse came along,” she added. “Paige is that horse.”

Round 4

With one foot out of its stirrup, Amberleigh also won Round 4 Sunday night, with a time of 13.56 seconds. That puts her in second place in the world standings with $198,922.

"I knew there had been a lot of girls having trouble on the ground, so I came into my first barrel and I went in and sat her (my horse, Paige) and asked her to sit really hard and she did," Amberleigh said. "Somehow, I managed to blow my inside stirrup, so going across to 2 I'm fishing for it and I can't find it, and then I'm going to 3 and I still can't find it. I just said, 'Oh well, sit hard on the third and don't come off.' "

Her fifth buckle won at the NFR came on a significant day.

"Today is my daughter's 26th birthday, so I guess Paige gave her a happy birthday present," Amberleigh said. "I will give this buckle to her."