Jade Crago, age 18, grew up on a ranch in Belle Fourche, SD with parents, Chuck and Mary Crago. His Dad used to show in the Reined Cow Horse, but he’s been team roping with Jade the last few years. He and his Mom enjoy running barrels together and having their own friendly competitions at the barrel races. Jade, a senior at Belle Fourche High School, just grew up around riding horses and never really thought about doing anything different---“It makes for such a great life”.
Jade has run barrels since he was little and always had a lot of fun, but then stopped running in 6th-8th grades when he was doing a lot of Little Britches rodeos. In the summer of 2010 after his freshman year, he had a 2-year Old, JC Sierras Jet Bug aka Sierra, that he was really excited about and wanted to take to the futurities. That is when he trained his first horse, CM BubblinDynamite aka “Hope”. “My Dad had shown her in the Reined Cow Horse as a 3-year old, so she was broke so well. She took to it in no time! I trained her myself and knew everything felt right. About 3 weeks later, I entered her and the 3rd day of the race, we were at the bottom of the 2D! A few weeks after that I won the Novice Youth Barrels and was Reserve Champion Youth Barrels at the Region Two AQHA Show. It just kept getting better from there. She was old and mature enough that nothing bothered her about it--she never got hot or worried about it.”
“The horses I had growing up taught me so much, but all of my horses I have now are ones we raised and that is so important to me. I think CM Bubblin Dynamite is probably my favorite because she is the first one I trained myself on the barrels and she made it so easy. She was just a natural and took to it so fast! “
But, running barrels on home-raised horses is just one of Jade's many accomplishments. Jade made the National High School Rodeo Finals twice in Cattle Cutting, and won the average in Cutting at both of his Regional Rodeos as a freshman. He also won the Rookie Award at the Dupree Regional Rodeo and went on to finish second in the state. During his sophomore year, Jade finished 2nd in the State and again qualified for Nationals in Cutting. He also qualified for State in TeamRoping on a Nonstop Bubblin gelding his family raised, "CM Bubblin Drifter." "King Flo" was Jade's cutting mount during his junior year and carried him to State. Jade looks forward to competing for another trip to Nationals on him this year!
“Be patient and compromise”
Q: Tell us about your first horse.
“My first horse was Kokomo, a horse my sister had first. My first very own horse was Buddy, a
part Welsh pony. He gave me so many good memories and won me quite a few bucks.”
Q: What are your favorite arenas, if any and why?
“My favorite arenas are the Golliher Arena and Seven Down Arena. You know every time you
run there, the ground is going to be safe and that is so important. They are both indoor
arenas and the environment is always so welcoming.”
Q: Saddle/pad/tack preference?
“I really like the Classic Equine pads and right now I am using a Coats Saddle and a Jordon
Briggs Contender made by Shiloh. My main concern is using tack that fits the horse and is not
going to make them sore.”
Q: Preferred bits, to start, transition and finish and the running bits you prefer. Do have a favorite warm up bit or running bit?
“I like to start them on barrels with a twisted wire o-ring snaffle and usually put them in an
Ed Wright Medium Shank Bit when I start adding speed, which is what I usually like to run
them in. Typically I don’t like running in a snaffle, but my 5-year old this year is so light in the
mouth she doesn’t need any more than the twisted wire o-ring and she works great in it. If I
could only own three bits, it would be a regular d-ring snaffle, the twisted wire o-ring, and the
Ed Wright bit. You can’t hardly ride young ones without a snaffle, the twisted wire o-ring
makes a good step-up bit after that, and the Ed Wright bit is a good bit for most horses after
that. I really like the Ed Wright bit because you can keep a horse’s shoulders up so well. “
Q: The type of trailer/truck you use?
“We have a King Ranch Ford and a Platinum Coach 4 Horse.”
Q: Preferred grain & hay...
“All of our horses are on free choice alfalfa and I like to mix Purina Omalene with either
Strategy or Cut N Slide.”
Q: Supplements used...
”I started using Exceed 6-Way this spring and am a big believer in it. Dale Steege from MVP is
great to work with and I am now part of the MVP Sponsorship Ambassador Program.”
Q: What is your philosophy about training barrel horses?
“Work with the horse and compromise between a style you can ride and a style that specific horse
Q: Turning style you like best?
“A round style where you can take their nose at any point around the barrel and they will come
around, but also move their shoulders and straighten out between barrels.”
Q: Daily exercise and training program?
“I like to mix it up for them. In the spring and summer, we have a lot of ranch jobs that are so good for the horses. When we don’t have these jobs, I like to mix it up between riding in the arena and going out for a long pasture ride. It keeps their minds so much better and gives them something different to think about.”
Q: Do you start or break your own horses? Clinician?
“I wanted to start Sierra by myself. I started her about the first 10 rides with some help from Stoyan Lucey and she was perfect. She never offered to buck, but I decided that wasn’t something I really wanted to do. Jeremiah Deaton rode her after that followed by Rob Fox. I have ridden two behind both Jeremiah and Rob and really liked them.”
Q: If you were to name any trainers you respect and admire, who would your top choices be?
“Samantha Flannery and Hallie Melvin Hanssen, not only because they are such good trainers, but
because I know them personally and they are such great people in and out of the arena. My mom
is also a big influence because she helps me if I ever run into problems.”
Q: Do you stick with certain bloodlines or have a preference?
“I like to ride ones that we have raised. I really like to ride Nonstop Bubblin, Doc O Dynamite, and
Sun Frost. They are all proven barrel bloodlines. They are great horses and have a lot of talent.”
Q: Do you prefer to run futurities or open?
“I think both are great. I am running my first futurity horse this year and am really excited for it. The
futurities are such an important part of the industry, but so are the 4-D’s. If you have a horse that
isn’t mentally or physically ready for the futurities, you don’t have to push them so hard and can
gradually season them at the open races when they are ready.”
Q: Do you prefer the 5-yr old or the 4-yr old futurities? Do you have plans to try the slot 3yr old races
“Both are great. This year and next year I will be running 5yr olds, but after that my goal will be 4yr
olds. The great thing about aiming for the 4yr old futurities is that if they aren’t ready, you can hold
them back for the next year. I have two 2yr olds that I would like to take to the slot races if they are
ready. If they aren’t ready, I’m not going to push it, but it is a goal I have in mind.”
Q: Do you have a routine warm up?
“I don’t necessarily have a routine that I do every time. It just depends on how they are feeling that
day. I like my horses to be really round, so sometimes warming up, I will walk around a barrel and
keep them a little straighter while keeping their shoulders up so they don’t get too bendy on me
while I am running.”
Q: What do you do to keep your horse fresh and ready to run when hauling & stalling?
“I try to keep them comfortable, whatever that may consist of at different places, whether it means
keeping fly sheets and fly boots on, or keeping them bathed and brushed, or keeping their stall
clean and water filled. I also have a Back On Track Mesh Sheet and Quick Wraps that I try to get on
them before and after I run if possible.”
Q: Would you share a barrel racing tip?
“Be a good winner and a good loser. It doesn’t always go the way you want and don’t take it out on
the horse if it doesn’t.”
GOALS AND INTERESTS
“I would say my biggest goal would be to win a $100,000 slot race someday on one that I raised and trained. I would like to win a little money at the fall futurities with my mare, but mainly I want to have a sound and solid horse at the end of it all. I have really enjoyed Cattle Cutting in High School Rodeo and was fortunate to make nationals three times. I have always loved roping also. I have a son of the great Nonstop Bubblin that we raised that I head on.” Jade plans on raising and training some great barrel horses and hopes to be among the leading breeders of barrel futurity horses in the coming years.
“I really like doing photography and graphic design. I have taken some of the pictures for our horse sale and done some of the sale posters. I think it would be really fun to take pictures at the racetrack.”
“MVP and Crago Quarter Horses. I would like to make a special thanks to my parents Chuck and Mary, for everything they do for me. I would not be where I am without them and the support they have given me.”
~3X NHSR Finals Cattle Cutting Qualifier
2013 Golliher Arena Series 3rd, 1D
2012 Roper Rally Slot Race Reserve Champion
2012 Red White and Run 4D Reserve Champion
2011 Golliher Arena Series 3rd place
QUOTE FROM PROUD PARENTS
“He will be a big time trainer…He has that drive, work ethic and is so good with horses…ever since he was little he had a way with horses…he is so sweet and good to them and they just work for him. He does every event well, but seems to love the run and barrels and training. I am always amazed at what he gets done with them. He is so confident it carries over to the horses...When you meet Jade you will understand. He is an old soul in a young person. People love him…I am not bragging but they just do. He heads really well, and loves the cutting event…He did 5 events in Little Britches and was so fun to watch. He was the kid I never had to tell to water and feed and bathe his horse or be ready for the next event. He is at the top of his class too. He enjoys photography and graphic design. He will do online classes so he can still train. We are very proud of him. He is so much help to us.”
Courtesy Jade Crago
© 2013 BHHLLC Interview Reprint
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