Iron on Iron: Shali Lord and Andrea Busby Emerge Victorious in Mountain States

Shali Lord Barrel Racing Mountain States Circuit Finals

The Mountain States Circuit holds some of the largest and saltiest rodeos of the ProRodeo regular season, so it should come as no surprise that the barrel racing field is as equally as tough.

The 2022 MSCF, held October 21-22 in Loveland, Colorado, didn’t disappoint by way of drama, but when it was all over, Shali Lord and Andrea Busby earned the NFR Open qualifications and Mountain States Circuit titles, each by a nose.

Shali Lord Locks Down Aggregate Win

When the dust settled on Saturday night, multiple-time NFR qualifier Shali Lord added another MSCF saddle to her collection.

Lord knew she wouldn’t be able to defend her 2021 year-end championship because of her regular season earnings, but she was hungry for an NFR Open qualification and set her sights on the aggregate win from the time she pulled in the driveway.

Read: Lord Scores 2021 Dual Mountain States Victories

Frosted In Fame, or “CeCe,” whom Lord rode the majority of the 2022 season, was her weapon of choice in Loveland. CeCe stepped up to bat whenever Lord’s main squeeze, Freckles Ta Fame was placed on the injured list. The mare had stayed consistent all year long for Lord, but after her time in the first round was off the pace, she needed to fix things before the following rounds.

Shali Lord's horse, Frosted in Fame

“I worked her between the first and second round, which is something I usually do at home,” Lord said. “I took her slow and worked her a bit differently—the barrels are so close together in that arena, so we needed to make adjustments— and I think that’s all it took.”

Lord’s on-location training seemed to do the trick. CeCe captured the second round victory with a 15.27-second run, and placed third in the blistering third round with a 15.28, adding $2,763 to her earnings through the rounds.

“I wasn’t nervous at all, and normally I get nervous,” Lord said of her thoughts before the final round. “It was crazy. I wasn’t leading the average, so I didn’t feel pressure. I was chasing it still, I knew that I needed to make another good, fast run like I had that afternoon. (CeCe) won the average last year in that arena, so I knew she could do it.”

Lord’s efforts were enough to hold off the sharks and earn her the aggregate win and $2,763 with a time of 46.13 seconds, just .01 ahead of WPRA world champion, Brittany Pozzi Tonozzi.

“It was close,” Lord said. “I knew it would be close. I just needed to make a good run and let it fall. Our circuit is tough. The first night alone, there was so many good runs. I’d say we really sharpen each other out there.”

Lord’s win gave her the opportunity to reflect on her previous 15 qualifications to the MSCF. She has been in attendance nearly every year since 2005, and she’s learned plenty of life lessons along the way.

“If I could go back, I’d tell myself to just take it all in and enjoy every moment,” Lord said. “From the circuit finals to the NFR, sometimes when you looks back you’re like ‘Wow, that was amazing,’ and you might not have realized it at the time. I’ve always enjoyed every moment, but sometimes you get too caught up to really enjoy it. Just take it all in and have fun, for sure.”

Looking ahead to 2023, Lord will have a new mount on the trailer— 2016 stalion, Al Cappone.

“I’m going to get his feet wet this year and see how it goes,” Lord said. “He’s got a good mind and good attitude, so I don’t think the rodeos will be tough for him at all. I’m really looking forward to running him.”

Lord was sure to thank Cinch Jeans, Justin Boots, Larry the Cable Guy, Purina, Western Dove, Simply Equine, Full Bucket Kahm, Iconoclast, Classic Equine, Flair, Bemer and Bill Fick Ford for helping her and her horses in 2022.

Andrea Busby’s Hiccup

Andrea Busby went into the MSCF in the No. 1 position with an—almost—guaranteed championship and $27,784.12 earned. The only shark with a legitimate shot to bump her also happened to be one of her best friends, and her 2022 hauling partner, Brittany Pozzi Tonozzi.

“Brittany’s just a winner,” Busby said. “You back her in a corner, and she’s just going to come with a bigger bullet. She’s good under pressure, and I knew it was mathematically possible. Needless to say, I didn’t feel very safe with her and Birdie chasing me.”

Busby had an impressive lineup of horses traveling with her in 2022, but her 2015 mare, Blazing With My Dude, “Tito,” made the most noise by pulling off a victory at the bottom of the ground at Cheyenne Frontier Days. However, when it came time to leave for Loveland, Busby hit a major snag in her plans.

Read: Busby and Blazing With My Dude Top 2022 Cheyenne Frontier Days.

“Everything in my barn decided to limp,” Busby said. “I had turned Tito out because she deserved a break, and everything else had stuff come up. Nothing major, just stuff. By the time I realized I didn’t have another option, it was too late to get her legged up. So, I got on the phone and started calling friends to find a horse to run.”

The horse she found was bred, raised and trained by Ceri Ward. She recently sold him to the Moyer Family, and he’s owned by their 13-year-old daughter, Merrick Moyer.

“The Moyer family made me regain my faith in humanity,” Busby said. “I’ve never been in a position to have to lease a horse before. I think they’ll be family friends after this, even though I’d never met them before. I just can’t say enough good things about them, honestly.”

Busby sits at the helm of Busby Quarter Horses, a highly respected breeding program in the barrel racing industry. So, the irony wasn’t lost on Busby that the gelding she jump rode at circuit finals is not only not Busby bred and raised—he’s not even AQHA registered.

“Interestingly enough, he’s a grade gelding,” Busby explained. “He’s out of an Appaloosa mare that Ceri won like, everything on, by MP Jet to the Sun. His only name is Hiccup.”

Hiccup may be grade, but he proved to be just as salty as anything with a set of papers, in Busby’s mind,

“I don’t feel like I made him shine,” Busby said. “Our timing was just off, but he kept us in the fight. He’s such a great horse.”

All though Busby didn’t have quite the circuit finals of her dreams, she managed to hold off Pozzi Tonozzi by just $64. Busby didn’t originally plan on traveling extensively in 2022, but Pozzi Tonozzi encouraged her to haul with her during the summer month, and her husband, Jeff, convinved her to take the leap.

“My plan was to season my horses, and to say they exceeded my expectations would be an understatement,” Busby said. “All four of mine actually won a rodeo this summer, so I couldn’t be happier with them.”

Busby’s win and rollercoaster month gave her a chance to analyze how she has changed since her first MSCF in 2010.

“I’m definitely not the rookie in the room anymore.,” Busby said. “I’ve been that person, and I’ve been around a while now. I know the ropes now.”

But it isn’t her riding ability, entering know-how, or horsepower that has made the difference. Busby has a whole new outlook after fighting personal and professional struggles throughout the last decade.

“Now i know things are going to go wrong and you just roll with the punches,” Busby said. “I don’t know if life changed me—I have a different perspective. My circle’s smaller. I don’t make anything a big deal—I can handle those hits. When something goes wrong, it isn’t a catastrophe. And I can enjoy the process now, whereas before, just getting there was painful.”

Mountain States Circuit Finals

Loveland, Colorado, Oct 21-22

First Round

1. Kelly Yates, 15.27 seconds, $1,842; 2. Sydni Blanchard, 15.35, $1,381; 3. MacKenzie Scott, 15.36, $921; 4. (tie) Chris Gibson and Emery Mask, 15.40, $230 each

Second round: 1. Shali Lord, 15.27 seconds, $1,842; 2. Kelly Yates, 15.38, $1,381; 3. Brittany Pozzi Tonozzi, 15.55, $921; 4. Emery Mask, 15.60, $460

Third round: 1. Brittany Pozzi Tonozzi, 15.14 seconds, $1,842; 2. MacKenzie Scott, 15.20, $1,381; 3. Shali Lord, 15.28, $921; 4. Kim Schulze, 15.37, $460

Average: 1. Shali Lord, 46.13 seconds on three head, $2,763; 2. Brittany Pozzi Tonozzi, 46.14, $2,072; 3. Kelly Yates, 46.27, $1,381; 4. Chris Gibson, 46.82, $691