Samantha grew up in Hooper, NE with parents Tom and Barb Milligan. Her Mom got her started riding
at a young age winning her first lead line class at age 2!! Her first horse, actually her Mom’s, was “Mike May”
who, with ears pinned, literally chased her out of the pasture! Samantha has come a long way, competing her whole life and then turning strictly to barrel racing during college. “My Dad bought me my first futurity horse in college from the Huffman Ranch Production Sale where I worked.  I got one of the cheapest ones on the sale, "DL Card". The following year we placed at every futurity entered.”

Today Samantha rides 6-8 horses per day, usually at least 2 futurity colts of her own and then also rides 1 or 2 outside colts. We asked her what her daily exercise and training program looked like….

“All horses are long trotted, most of the time in the pasture.  Then to the arena where I do lots of circles using barrels as my center, but in no particular pattern.  My finished horses rarely come to the arena. They trot and lope in the pasture unless I need to work on something, then I do mostly slow work. I just rarely make a practice run anymore; I might just work them on specifics if any.  They all also get trotted or loped through the poles and I do some work with tires, an exercise I picked up from a Sue Smith article.”

Q: Do you have a favorite horse of your entire career?
“CM Stoney Bubbles is my favorite.  I don't know why, I've had others equally great, but he and I just felt like a team and he kind of let it all known that he only liked me.”

Q: Who was your main influence in getting started and later who were the barrel racers and/or clinicians, if any, that you developed your program from?
“I admire lots of barrel racers, but I've received most of my help from cutters, working cow, etc. I like to ask people of other disciplines because I like the different approach.”

Q: If you were to name any trainers you respect and admire, who would your top three be?
“I admire the girls or guys that make a fluid moving horse, the kind you can watch and say that was a pretty run and some of these people can do it year after year.  Those horses last!!”

Q: Do you have a routine warm up that seems to work for the majority of your horses, pre-race?
“Long trot, lope circles, flex and get their feet moving.  I don't stand still much before a race, I like to keep them moving and thinking.”

Q: What do you do to keep your horse fresh and ready to run when hauling & stalling?
“I like hay in front of them at all times when stalled and I try to get them out of the stalls as much as I physically can.  My horses are not used to stalls, so being tied to trailer or letting kids take them for a ride brings a little normalcy to them instead of the stall all day.

Q: Can you share a barrel racing tip?
“Straight lines and the shortest distance is always faster.  Evaluate your runs and see where you are all going in the pen, you might be able to shave off a lot of time.”

Q: Your game plan to peak at the right time?
“I like them to feel solid in the beginning summer months so that I can relax during summer and not fret that they aren't ready.”

Q: Any therapies you use or would like to try? Routines?
“Massage, chiropractic adjustment, ice, magnets, etc.  My chiro comes to my house once a month. I travel with magnetic blankets and unshod horses get soft ride boots.”

Q: Do you stick with certain bloodlines or have a preference? 
“I want to be able to say that I've rode them all, so I like lots of different bloodlines.  I prefer hot mixed with cold.  I try to get all my horses from friends or breed my mares to my friend's stallion and I’m fortunate to know some great people with awesome horses.  My favorites from my past would be Doc's Oak, A streak of Fling, Nonstop Bubblin and Heza Fast Streak

Thoughts on Futurities………..
 Q: Do you have any advice for someone wanting to break into the futurity circle?
“Trust your training, the exhibition pen can be very intimidating, You have to trust all your handwork and not worry about others.”

Q: Do you prefer to run futurities, rodeos or open barrel races?  Why?
“Futurities, I enjoy the whole training and outcome and then I tend to get bored when I can't train anymore, so I sell them.”

Q: Do you prefer the 5yr old, 4yr old or 3yr old futurities and why or why not?
In my country and Old Man Winter, I prefer the 5.

Advice and Philosphy
Q: What is your philosophy about training barrel horses?  Advice you can give someone on the work it  takes to have a chance at winning?

       Get them out of the arena!!  “Watch, listen and learn from your mentors. I pick up a little tidbit every year that I apply to improve my horses and my time. …None of my success happened overnight, what I am today has been 20+ years in the making.”

Q: What is it like living the life of a top barrel racing trainer? 
“I've met so many great people in this industry and usually when you do well you meet several more people or get asked to ride bigger and better horses.  That is fun!!  But I can only ride so many plus raise my kids and be a wife and all the opportunities being thrown at me lately is very overwhelming. I'm having to learn to say 'No".  Samantha met her husband in her sophomore year of college at the University of NE-Lincoln…at a party!!! They have two boys – Jacob, 14 and Nathan, 12. Her interests other than barrel racing include “…spending time with my husband and boys traveling, we have a great time together.

Q: Is there any big event you have not won and would like to do so some day?
5-State Breeders Futurity.

Q: Long-term or short-term goals for this year or beyond?
“My goal is always to be just a little bit better than the year before.”

Preferences & Favorites…….
Q: Do you have any favorite arenas? 
“No, I'd just say I'm spoiled because most of the time futurity ground is very good, so I don't handle bad ground very well.”

Q: Saddle/pad/tack/shoes?
“I have no preferences, except the saddles have to fit me. I've won all my saddles, except for 2 Ammermans--none are the same, which works great for all the different horses.”

Q: Preferred bits, to start, transition, finish and the running bits you prefer? Do have a favorite warm up bit or running bit?  If you could only pick 3 bits to own, which would they be?
“I love to use Greg Darnell snaffles at home, I like the perfect bit for just exercise and I like to run in the Charmayne James Ryan or Loomis Gag, but I’m open to anything if it works.  3 bits would be Darnell twisted snaffle, James Ryan and Loomis Gag.”

Q: Favorite trailer/truck?
“I love my Dodge!!  I have an elite trailer now that I love but I also loved my platinum.”

Q: Preferred grain & hay?
“Oats, Woody's Summer Heat, grass hay.”

Q: Supplements used & preferred/for general use, ulcers, nervous, joint preventative, etc.?

“I supplement with flax seed and aloe vera juice and give previcox on long weekends.”

Courtesy Sam Flannery
© 2013 BHHLLC Reprint


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