Emily Beisel and Chongo Headline $25,000 Cowboy Christmas with Ponoka Win

Emily Beisel may have officially locked up high-money bragging rights over the 2023 Cowboy Christmas run after a redemption run at the 2023 Ponoka Stampede.
Emily Beisel barrel racing at Ponoka Stampede
Emily Beisel and Namgis D CC "Chongo," won over $16,000 at the 2023 Ponoka Stampede. Covy Moore Photography.

Emily Beisel has had a rollercoaster relationship with the Fourth of July ProRodeo run, but on July 02 she earned a big barrel racing win aboard Namgis D 33 at the Ponoka Stampede in Alberta.

Beisel and “Chongo,” were solid in round one in Ponoka and turned in a 17.42, worth $4,430 in a round that saw Carlee Otero take the win with a 17.20. When Beisel returned to Ponoka for the short man round on Sunday, July 02, she ran in the twelve-man round in the afternoon and maintained a solid aggregate position—splitting second with Jones with a time of 35.08 on two runs behind Dona Kay Rule and Valor’s 35.03— to come back in the top four for the showdown round that evening. That night, Beisel’s 17.28 was enough for the $7,500 showdown and event championship.

“The good thing about Chongo is that if I do my job, he takes care of the clock,” Biesel said. “I was a little worried about the footing at the third barrel (at Ponoka)—and some horses struggled with that one—and Chongo can get strong at the third if I don’t stay calm and complete the course, so I had to back off and focus on staying squared up each round until I turned that third. He handled it really well.”

“I won the first round, the short round and average, but knocked in the showdown round at Ponoka in 2019. I remember asking myself ‘Why can’t you finish the race?’ I had this amazing horse and would get so close to these big victories and fall short at the last step”

Emily Beisel

Over the past four years, Beisel has worked on her mental game and her technical skills as a jockey, and when it came down to the buzzer in 2023 it all came together on a cold, windy Canadian day. The Oklahoma cowgirl was comfortable running in the high winds during the twelve-man short round and the four-man showdown round, but her Cowboy Christmas battle wasn’t close to being over when she wrapped up in Alberta. Chongo had two rodeos on his roster—Ponoka and the Cody Stampede in Cody, Wyoming, and after caring for the gelding, Beisel turned the truck straight to Wyoming to make slack the following morning.

“Oh I haven’t slept in like 36 hours,” Beisel explained early on Tuesday morning. “I try to make it easier on the horses. Sometimes that means it’s harder for me, I don’t sleep much, but I can catch up eventually.”

Beisel’s top tricks to staying awake on the all-night drives include Xyng supplements and a splurge on Sirius XM radio so that she’s never without music. Her entries lined up nearly perfectly on the weeks around Independence Day, but canceled and missed flights caused her plans to change after the first run at Ponoka, when she left her mom, Margaret MIller with Chongo and set out to run her other three horses on the Southern haul.

“My friend Karen Jones has been helpign with the other three horses,” Beisel explained. “It’s been harder on her, really. I was supposed to fly home after (the first round at) Ponoka and take Pipewrench, Bo and Liza to Prescott and go South, but I couldn’t get a flight back to Oklahoma City that wasn’t canceled, so I had to ask Austin—who doesn’t ride or know a ton about the horses, but he’s learning—to pack the trailer and Karen had to make the drive by herself. It takes a village to help you succeed out here and I’m so grateful for my team.”

Beisel’s gearing up for a run that could prove more intense than the Fourth of July for her. Next on the docket are the NFR Open in Colorado Springs, the Calgary Stampede and the Days of 47 in Salt Lake City that all occur simultanously.

“I feel like this has just been a warm-up,” Beisel said.

And what a warm-up run it was. Beisel’s overnight drive to Cody paid off in a $4,116 placing, plus she picked up checks in Molalla, Oregon, and Livingston, Montana, worth $2,013 and $2,410, respectively. Overall, her $25,374 in earnings makes her the unofficial high-money earner over the 2023 Cowboy Christmas run. BRM will continue to follow the story to confirm numbers as the Independence Day rodeos close out, thanks to Equinety.