The second weekend of July meant big money for BryAnna Haluptzok, who sits No. 16 by a nose in the Women’s Professional Rodeo Association World Standings after cashing in for $8,465 in her last four runs alone.
Haluptzok took a few days of much-needed rest after the Cowboy Christmas run before heading to Spooner, Wisconsin, July 07. The arena at the Heart of the North Rodeo posed a challenging setup for Haluptzok because she is working on getting with a new horse, RC Black In Famous, whom she calls “Pickles.”
“I wasn’t sure how she would handle that pen because the first and second are in the middle of nowhere,” Haluptzok said. “But I knew we had to go fast to win something. I just went in there, she aced her first barrel, I helped her place her feet around the second and third, and she had a great run. I wasn’t expecting it to be that fast.”
Unofficially, Haluptzok broke her first arena record of the weekend in Spooner, where her time of 17.15 seconds earned $3,365.
After Spooner, it was up to Iron River, Michigan. Halupztok let her 7-year-old gelding, Cat Mai Flash, known as “Flash,” have a chance to show out. Flash braved the performance and managed to hold on for a sixth-place check, worth $393.
From Michigan, it was back to Halupztok’s home state of Minnesota, where she set a new arena record in Isanti riding Pickles. Her 16.29-second run cashed out for $1,879.
“That rodeo was special, because I haven’t seen my whole family in a while,” Haluptzok said of Insanti. “They were cheering me on and having fun. I think their cheering made Pickles run extra fast, too, because she won first and set the arena record.”
After Isanti, Haluptzok kept the momentum rolling with a win in Hamel, Minnesota. Her $2,828 check in Hamel brought the 22-year-old to $8,465 in total weekend earnings. Haluptzok has accumulated $40,552 in 2022 earnings and she is ranked No. 16 in the WPRA World Standings, well within range of No. 15 Paige Jones with $41,778 in earnings.
Haluptzok’s big week came at just the perfect time. After a disheartening year she was almost ready to call it quits.
“I just kept watching my name fall down the standings,” Haluptzok said. “I hadn’t won money in a long time. I decided if I didn’t win money over the Fourth of July, I was going home.”
Notoriously challenging, the rodeo road has thrown just about every test imaginable at Haluptzok this season. She had every right to become discouraged.
After a productive winter and spring California run, Haluptzok’s standout mare, Perks Pizazz, suffered a devastating injury that took her out of the lineup, at least for the time being. Mr. Cool Eddie, or “Eddie,” her 7-year-old gelding who made major noise by dominating the Great Lakes Circuit Finals Rodeo in November, came up with a mystery lameness around the same time. She got along well with Flash, but he was going into the summer unseasoned, and Haluptzok knew that she would need an experienced rodeo horse on the trailer if she wanted to keep her National Finals Rodeo dreams alive. Fortunately, her longtime friend and mentor Jane Melby helped introduce her to Chuck and Lisa Nelson, who owned Pickles. After Melby advocated for her, the Nelsons agreed to let Haluptzok take Pickles on the road.
“It was super nice of them,” Haluptzok said. “I got her at the beginning of June from the breeding barn, got her in shape for a few weeks and headed right to Reno. Our first couple runs were not very good. I think I knocked the first five runs on her—if not more—but then we got together during the Fourth of July run and it’s been getting better since.”
Haluptzok and Pickles had a relatively short adjustment period, but don’t think winning on the mare came easily to the Minnesota cowgirl.
Sure, Haluptzok knew that Pickles could win—after all, Heidi Gunderson trained and had futurity success on the now 8-year-old mare and qualified for the Badlands Circuit Finals on her. Melby had also won a fair share of checks, including an American qualifier on Pickles. Haluptzok knew she could ride behind Gunderson and Melby both, but she had to figure out how to adapt to Pickles’ unique tendencies.
“Her style was different,” Haluptzok said. “She’s really quick around her turns and honest. So, when I was hitting barrels, it was coming around them. She’s so snappy. I’m used to having to help one around the back side.”
Her solution was to get help from Gunderson and Melby.
“I spent the night at Heidi’s when I was near her house,” Haluptzok explained. “She worked with me in the arena and told me what to do. After every run, I was calling Jane and asking ‘What can I do better? How can I keep barrels up and be faster?’ With both of their help, me feeling her out and changing my riding style to help her, it’s been great. It’s always good to have those people in your corner.”
For now, Haluptzok is reenergized and entered up. Her mom, Barb, will take Pickles north to the NFR Open in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and Cheyenne, Wyoming, in the same rig with Haluptzok. Meanwhile, Haluptzok’s father, Troy, will be headed to Salinas, California, for “Eddie’s,” return to the ProRodeo trail.
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WPRA World Barrel Racing Standings
|1||Jordon Briggs||Tolar, TX||$130,118.45||20|
|2||Wenda Johnson||Pawhuska, OK||$79,377.29||17|
|3||Hailey Kinsel||Cotulla, TX||$75,702.13||28|
|4||Sissy Winn||Chapman Ranch, TX||$70,559.45||41|
|5||Bayleigh Choate (R)||Fort Worth, TX||$63,512.34||55|
|6||Stevi Hillman||Weatherford, TX||$61,247.12||30|
|7||Brittany Pozzi Tonozzi||Lampasas, TX||$60,317.01||27|
|8||Dona Kay Rule||Minco, OK||$60,117.99||15|
|9||Shelley Morgan||Eustace, TX||$55,341.08||39|
|10||Michelle Darling||Medford, OK||$47,179.06||27|
|11||Shannon McReynolds||La Luz, NM||$45,131.94||30|
|12||Emily Beisel||Weatherford, OK||$44,290.95||42|
|13||Cheyenne Wimberley (G)||Stephenville, TX||$43,204.17||39|
|14||Kylee Scribner||Azle, TX||$42,180.07||44|
|15||Paige Jones||Wayne, OK||$41,777.57||31|
|16||BryAnna Haluptzok||Tenstrike, MN||$40,551.98||63|
|17||Kassie Mowry||Dublin, TX||$38,965.99||11|
|18||Taycie Matthews (R)||Wynne, AR||$37,759.11||40|
|19||Jessica Routier||Buffalo, SD||$36,638.70||25|
|20||Leslie Smalygo||Skiatook, OK||$36,308.42||28|