Ellensburg Rodeo

Jody Tucker, of Ellensburg, seen here at the 2016 Ellensburg Rodeo, competes this weekend in the Columbia River Circuit Finals Rodeo in Yakima.

Her husband named her horse Streakin’ for Momma when it was born. Yeah right, like that’s gonna fly.

But when it comes right down to it, that’s exactly what local dental hygienist Jody Tucker and her gelding Quarter Horse Streaker do out there on the barrel pattern — fly. Tucker and Streaker have been so successful this season they flown all the way to the Columbia River Circuit Finals Rodeo at the Yakima Valley SumDome this weekend.

FAST TIMES

Tucker and Streaker are headed to their first Columbia River Circuit Finals where they’re going to have to bring the A-game to be in the money because the SunDome pattern is known for some incredibly fast times.

“I was looking at last year’s times and Cindy Wood, who will be there again this year, won the first go-round with a 13.7 (seconds). The year before the fast time was even faster at 12.9,” said Tucker, who works at Pearl Care Dental. “So you have to be firing on all cylinders when you ride there.”

She’s been working with Streaker ever since he was born. He’s big, fast, strong and durable — everything you want in a barrel horse.

STREAKER

“He gets as excited as I do. He knows when it’s time to go. His mom is a mare that our father-in-law gave us and his sire is one of the leading barrel horses in the nation — A Streak of Flame,” Tucker explained. “My daughter ran him in high school and in college rodeo. He’s been our top horse since he was born on the place.

“He’s very durable and consistent. In rodeo, the ground can be different from place to place. Weather conditions make it hard some places. But he’s very consistent and takes care of himself, takes care of me. He has his quirks, they all do, but I know he’s going to do the same thing every, single time and that’s what makes us such a good team.”

The big difference between the Women’s Professional Rodeo Association and the various circuits around the country is that the riders often times juggle a full-time job with a competitive weekend schedule. The Columbia River Circuit requires a minimum of 12 rodeos between March and September to qualify for the circuit finals, Tucker and Streaker got in 14 rodeos, making the top 12 in an estimated 100 riders to qualify for the finals.

CLOSE TO HOME

Another major difference between the 12-circuit schedule and the WPRA is that it allows competitors to compete against the top talent in a two-three-state region, cutting down on the travel for those with jobs and family obligations.

“I feel fortunate to have qualified,” she said. “The Columbia River Circuit is such a tough circuit with some of the best rodeos in the nation. There’s Ellensburg, Pendleton (Ore.), Kennewick, Omak, Hermiston (Ore.). They’re all tough.

“The best competitors in all events come to the Pacific Northwest because we have such good, quality rodeos.”

It’s a chance to get out of the office, play a little bit with something she loves and still be close to friends and family. Yep, there’s nothing better than the wind in her hair, the sound of thundering hooves and the adrenaline of bringing in home with the crowd on its feet.

The champions from each circuit, as well as year-end winners, have a chance to compete at the RAM National Circuit Finals Rodeo in Kissimmee, Fla.

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