New Cowgirls, Old Tack: Top Rookie Barrel Racing Bits

These barrel racers may all be the 'new kids on the block,' in ProRodeo, but their tack choices are as unique as the horses they ride in on.
Jamie Olsen rookie barrel racer
Bobby Rosales Photography

The 2022 Women’s Professional Rodeo Association Resistol Rookie class has been impressive, to say the least.

These cowgirls vary in age, background and riding style—but one thing is for sure, they’ve got talent. Another major variation betwixt the Resistol Rookie hopefuls is their choice of headgear for their trusted equine counterparts. Here are the bits that the top five rookies in the world have won just shy of a combined $250,000 with in 2022.

No. 1: Bayleigh Choate

Hometown: Fort Worth, Texas

Earnings: $89,282.

TJR Stinson Blue, “Boozer”

“I change Boozer’s bit all the time,” Choate said. “As soon as he figures one out, I have to switch it up on him again. This is what we’re currently running in.”

Hail to be Famous, “Dash”

“Dash runs in like, a 1970’s rusted, beat up, wrapped Stop and Turn type bit, it’s the only thing he will ride in,” Choate said. “I picked him up from (Alan Fletcher, who had been riding him) in 2019 and he handed me this bit and said, ‘Do not ride him in anything else. Don’t touch it.'”

“It has zero feel. When I’m up there, I’m basically just holding on.”

Bayleigh Choate

No. 2: Taycie Matthews

Hometown: Wynne, Arkansas

Earnings: $69,790

Heavenly Firewater, “Bud the Stud”

“Bud runs in a Kathy James with a chain mouthpiece,” Matthews said.

Bud the Stud winning Sisters, Oregon. Image by Bill Lawless Photography.

FameFireRocks, “Poprocks”

“She runs in a Dave Elliott medium twist with a cricket mouthpiece,” Matthews said.

Poprocks in the short round at Cheyenne Frontier Days. Image by Robert Rosales.

No. 3: Presley Smith

Hometown: Denham Springs, Louisiana

Earnings: $35,770

Smooth Movin Guy, “Jerry McGuire”

“Jerry runs in a Pozzi lifter bit with a three-piece dog bone. At home he gets rode in a Classic Equine chain snaffle or a Reinsman Junior Cow Horse or hackamore,” Smith said.

Mister Prime Time, “Optimus Prime”

“Optimus both runs in and gets ridden in my Junior Cow Horse bit, or a Greg Dutton O-ring.

The Reinsman Junior Cow Horse bit, which is very similar to the discontinued model that Smith uses for her geldings.

“The Pozzi lifter is my favorite bit of all time. It just fits my hands. That bit is a security for them and me when they are put in bad situations and need my help to stand up. The others are just light and relaxed. My horses are super broke and don’t need me often. They all ride in about the same three to four bits.”

Presley Smith

“I love bits. I usually pack enough for everyone at the rodeo. I mean, you never know! Why not have some extras?”

Kailee Murdock

No. 4: Kailee Murdock

Hometown: Litchfield Park, Arizona

Earnings: $29,307

Little Dashn Nick, “Sherlock”

“Sherlock runs in a Randy Reid lifter,” Murdock said. “The Randy Reid is one of my favorite bits. It has lift and whoa when you need it but doesn’t intimidate one. It has a ton of feel.”

“To school Sherlock, I use a Fred Hunter ‘Show to Win,'” Murdock said. “It keeps him from getting so flat on the backside—when he gets flat, he gets strung out.”

FrenchIce, “Paris”

“Paris is really sensitive and requires something much softer,” Murdock said. “This Merrill and this Flaherty are great. I switch back and forth between them depending on what the arena setup is.”

No. 5: Jamie Olsen

Hometown: Brock, Texas

Earnings: $28,254

Royal Quick Frencher, “Easy”

“JD Morrow is who makes all my bits,” Olsen said. “He makes anything I need. This is the bit I use most often. To me it has a nice soft feel with a somewhat immediate reaction. It has a lifesaver, which gives it a little bit of a port feel. I have not ran (Easy) in anything other than this and I run (Jojo) in it often.”

Miss Famous Beduino, “Jodi”

I have and will run my mare Jojo in a mullen mouthpiece and a combo Johnson type,” Olsen said. “She has a tendency to get very soft and her shoulders will float by the barrel. These will keep her more ‘between my hands’ and bring her body across quicker if I need.”