HARTINGTON – Brantlee Dendinger has a favorite quote for when she wants to go fast in barrel racing: “Send it!”
The six-year-old rural Randolph girl is in her second year of barrel racing, which she competed in twice during the 2022 Cedar County Fair in Hartington.
“That was what she told everybody she was doing,” said Kerrie Dendinger, Brantlee’s mom. “She was just going to send it!”
Brantlee competed in barrel racing last year and this year during the fair’s Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association Rodeo.
“It’s fun and I like to do it,” she said.
Brantlee finished in third place out of six 4-H barrel racing competitors during the rodeo on July 14. She ended up with a time of 22.162 seconds.
“Good,” she said when she was asked how she felt about recording a top-three finish.
For placing third, Brantlee earned a prize of $27.
“That’s gold right there,” Kerrie said, laughing as she described what that amount of money means to a six-year-old.
Kerrie noted Brantlee used some of that money to enter the fair’s barrel racing competition on July 17.
During that event, Brantlee competed in the youth division against 24 other young people, some of whom were as old as 18, and finished with a time of 23.411 seconds.
In barrel racing, the rider and horse cross the starting line at a run, follow a cloverleaf pattern around three preset barrels and finally dash across the finish line to record the fastest time they can.
Last year, Brantlee rode an American Quarter horse – which was handed down from her 13-year-old brother Kody Junck – named Cash for barrel racing.
This year, Brantlee rode her own Quarter pony named Four Sox in the barrel racing events.
“That was a new experience for her,” Kerrie said. “She trained her pony.”
Kerrie, the superintendent of the fair’s horse show, noted she grew up around the animals.
That led her to raise Brantlee and Kody around horses and get them involved in equine events, such as barrel racing and team roping.
Kerrie noted she and her husband, Tyler, have about 20 horses and three ponies on their acreage located just outside of Randolph.
“She just likes the horses,” Kerrie said of her daughter. “We grew up with them. She watches her brother.”
Brantlee also was inspired to get into barrel racing by Kerrie, a Randolph native who has participated in that kind of event for nearly her entire life.
“We grew up around horses,” Kerrie said. “I have four older brothers. They all showed, too. It was in our genes.”
Brantlee added, “I guess it was our thing.”
Kerrie laughed as she explained her daughter has goals for her ponies.
“She kind of likes to collect ponies,” Kerrie said. “She thinks she needs to train ponies and sell them.
“Right now, she has three, but she’s probably gone through 10 ponies maybe,” she said.