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Barrel racing on their minds

Sunday, June 12, 2005 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 2:01 a.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 22, 2008

If you ride horses you probably know the Schneider family.

Jeff, Nanette, Katie and Jacob Schneider have been riding horses for most of their lives. Not only do they win state awards for barrel racing, but they train and sell horses as well.

“We became widely recognized when we bought Katie her first horse, Smart Dream. You could go to any race and know Smart Dream would put you in the top five every time,” Nanette Schneider said. The family retired Smart Dream after eight years and two Youth First Division State Championships.

The Schneiders are competing in the National Barrel Horse Association Missouri State Championships this weekend at the Boone County Fairgrounds. This three-day event has over 450 riders competing in two different divisions: the youth division, 18 and under, and the open division, over 18. Nanette and Katie both qualified for the finals today in the open division. Jeff qualified in the youth division and Katie missed it by one spot.

“We train the horses and then train the people that buy them,” Katie said.Nanette Schneider has been riding since she was 5 or 6 years old and has continued since then to learn even more.

“I have always loved horses, my grandfather bought me the most beautiful pony when I was little,” she said. “He decided to breed it and I read every book in the library on how to train and take care of them and when I finished all of them I would start over again.”

Nanette Schneider started her children on horses when they were very young and 16 years ago convinced her husband, Jeff, to retire from 13 years of professional drag boat racing for the safer sport of barrel racing. The couple and their then 2-year-old daughter Katie moved from the city to the outskirts of Columbia with 10 acres for horses. The family hobby has only grown since then.

Katie, 18, and younger brother Jake, 15, have been riding horses since they were young.

“It’s important to do things together as a family. I know where my children are at on the weekends. It keeps us busy and gives us an opportunity to share something we love with other people that love it and to meet people of all walks of life,” Nanette said.

The family has won many awards.

Nannette was the National Barrel Horse Association District 4 1D Champion in 1996 and 2004 and Jeff was the NBHA Reserve Champion in the same district last year. Katie has qualified every year since 1997 for the youth and open world championships. Jake won the state show in 2002.

“We started with a three-horse trailer and a half-ton Chevy pickup,” Jeff Schneider said, while packing the last of the saddles into their new custom built Bloomer trailer, a top-of-the-line trailer made in Texas. The Schneider family trailer can hold six horses and has living quarters.

“We can go a whole seven days at the Youth World Championships in Jackson, Mississippi without killing each other,” he said.

The family dog, Nefa, a 5-year-old, long-haired dachshund, also goes everywhere with them.

Nanette and Katie take care of the horses while Jake concentrates on other interests.

“There is not a career in men’s barrel racing. In the pro rodeo it’s only women,” Jake said.

Jake also races motocross and is thinking about going to heavy-equipment-operating school when he graduates high school.

Katie Schneider just graduated high school and will be attending MU in the fall, majoring in animal science. She hopes to go to vet school when she finishes. Katie will continue to ride with her family but is also hoping that MU will have a rodeo team this year.

“I would really like Katie and me to go to the National Finals Rodeo,” Nanette said. The Schneiders have never gone to NFR before because it takes so much time, and they don’t like to take the kids out of school. But now that the kids are older, it could be a possibility.

Walking around the fairgrounds, the family knew almost everyone.

“We teach them lessons.” or “We sold them their horse.” were comments that the family made often.

Tara Massman, of Eolia, bought her horse, Jody Buckle, from them. Like the Schneider’s children Massman’s 19-month-old son, Haden, was already on a horse.

Next weekend the rodeo festivities will continue at the fairgrounds with the Missouri State High School Rodeo. The rodeo will be held Thursday through Sunday with over 100 contestants. It will feature standard rodeo events and a queen contest.

This year the event will feature a new event, cutting. Cutting involves a rider having to lead a loose cow into the pen using only the rider’s horse.

Each night will begin with a grand entrance at 7 p.m. and continue with the performance round.


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