On the Trail with Ivy Conrado
Written by: Siri Stevens
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Ivy Conrado has figured out what it takes to make 18 hour drives. “I listen to audio books, music, and call people all the time.” To stay awake, she drinks lots of water and doesn’t eat much. “Then you have to go to the bathroom and you can’t go to sleep,” said the 22-year-old who will run into the Thomas & Mack for the first time in December. Ivy comes from two generations of rodeo. “I grew up going to amateur rodeos, but I’m the first one in the family to make it to the NFR.”
Ivy started riding when she was three on a little pony named Snip. “I rode her all the time while my parents were riding futurity colts.” Both her parents, Cody Doig and Kelly Conrado, are horse trainers. They divorced when Ivy was five and she spent the school year with her mom in North Carolina and the summers with her dad in South Dakota. “My brother, Chance, lived with whoever he wasn’t in trouble with and Paige and I lived with mom.” Both parents moved back to Colorado when Ivy was 12.
She hasn’t always been horseback though. She was involved in a terrible horse accident at the Ft. Smith futurity when she was five. It took more than a year for her to get back on a horse, and the horse she got on was Tibbie’s mom. Little Fancy Granny (Racie) was raised and trained by Ivy and the duo took Barrel Racing Champion for the Colorado State Junior High Rodeo when she was 14. She never made the trip to the National Junior High Finals because it fell at the same time as the Junior Olympics for volleyball.
“I picked volleyball,” she said. “I quit riding in high school and focused on volleyball.” She played club volleyball and said it was the best experience of her life. “I played for some of the greatest coaches – it was a great experience. If I had to go back and do it again, I would.” The club she played on was a high level club and to get invited in took talent and work.
“Ivy is not tall, 5’5”, but she’s so gritty,” said Cody, who spent six years hauling her daughter to practices and tournaments. “The girls – who were mostly 6’ tall –told her she’d never make it playing for Front Range because she’s so short.” From October through July, the schedule was grueling. “I would go to work, pick Ivy up from school, and drive an hour and a half to South Denver to practice. She’d have a couple months off, then back to it.”
Ivy concurred. “Her schedule revolved around me – if we didn’t have tournaments all over the state on the weekends, we would have two practices a day.” The results of her dedication and hard work were several Division 1 scholarship offers for college. Ivy made another huge decision – to get back into competing.
“My dad was very thick into the horses and that’s where I ended up – at Dad’s house.” She started working with the colts and doing chores – feeding up to 75 head and cleaning stalls for her dad while Paige was rodeoing. “I loved futurities and taking eight horses, having the colts and the three years olds.” And along came Tiddie.
“Ivy and Paige had been riding and winning with Racie, and we did an embryo transfer on the mare,” explained Kelly. “I liked the Dash to Fame line, but it wasn’t reality to breed to because of the stud fees, so I’m opted for his son, Eddie Stinson, who I’d seen run on the track.” Chad Harddt owned the horse at the time, and he was willing to work with Kelly on getting the stud fees paid. “Then I worked with Royal Vista to get the embryo transfer done – it took a while to pay off the embryo transfer. We were eating at Wendys on the dollar menu and paying with quarters to get her here. She was the first foal out of the crop of Eddie Sins, first one of the crop and she’s been an excellent athlete from the beginning.”
CFour Tibbie Stinson – Tibbie – won 7 futurities with Kelly and has now taken Ivy to the fourth position going into the NFR. “When you’re running barrels you have to have a great horse,” said Ivy. “The amazing kind to make a living at it. It is up to you to keep it going, but you’ve got to have a good horse. I’ve got the good one.” The 7-year-old mare has proven herself again by winning the Barrel Horse of the Year, a distinguished award given by the AQHA and the WPRA.
The partnership between Tibbie and Ivy took time. “Getting on a horse that was a proven performer with my dad and hitting maybe $60,000 worth of barrels in our first year together was disheartening,” shared Ivy. “I’m not a quitter – those kinds of things make me want to be better. I went with Tibbie until I figured out a good routine for us. Rodeo is so different from jackpotting or futurities – you have to be able to adapt.” Ivy and Tibbie spent hours together, and with the continued encouragement and support of her dad, Ivy feels the team is ready for the Thomas & Mack. “Dad is a huge tool in my success because he is always there if I’m unsure – which is often. The goal is to stay in tune and in center with your horse which never happens perfectly every time.”
This was their first full year going hard down the road. Kelly got in the rig at Ft. Worth and went with Ivy for most of the year, helping with Tibbie. They are partners on the horse and the winnings. “Ivy is a really focused young person. We work really well together as a team,” he said. “She is very respectful of my experience and is very coachable. She strives to continue to be the best and looks at this as her job, which I appreciate. She doesn’t take any of it lightly. She’s been a real pleasure to work with. It’s been a lifetime goal and we’ve been able to work towards it together and that’s something I will always value.”
Ivy has used her dad’s lifetime of experience to help her this year. “He’s really good at entering, so he does that. If I feel very very strongly about something, he listens. I get to make the decision on how many runs we make.”
Ivy plans to keep right on rodeoing. “I want to see what Tibbie can accomplish. She’s so sound for a barrel horse and I get to be on for the ride.” After that, she plans to either train or find another horse and keep winning. “I like to win, first place is my favorite. I want to be the best I can be in this industry and have a healthy life.”
Posted on: October 28, 2016
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