It’s Working: Carlee Otero and Blingolena Add Old Fort Days Title to Resume

Sly's looking to shake up the world standings.
Carlee Otero and Blingolena
Carlee Otero and Blingolena winning Old Fort Days Rodeo 2023 | Phil Kitts/Avid Visual Imagery

This week, Carlee Otero and the Blingolena won the Old Fort Days Rodeo, plus cashed in elsewhere to make a big jump up the WPRA barrel racing world standings to ring in June 2024.

As barrel racers across the country dodge flash flooding, tornadoes and a whole lot of mud, it’s a mixture of luck and preparation that are helping barrel racers like Otero capitalize as the full summer run looms.

“They let you enter rodeos all year long, so it’s okay to turn out when you need to,” Otero said. “You have to be smart about the ground and weather. You have to pay attention.”

Closely following her own advice, Otero narrowly pulled the lever at the right time to kick off her profitable weekend.

“We actually made the decision to go to Mt. Pleasant at the very last minute,” Otero said. “We pulled into the rodeo when they were on the second event in the performance I was up in. But honestly, that ground has so much sand in it that it held great. It was the right choice.”

The choice paid off for Otero and “Sly,” a 2018 son of Blazin Jetolena out of Dash Of Bling by Dash Ta Fame. They won second, worth $1,934 in 15.12 seconds, bested only by Dona Kay Rule and High Valor.

Next, the duo headed to Fort Smith, Arkansas, where they conquered the Old Fort Days Rodeo in Fort Smith, Arkansas, in 16.60 seconds, worth $3,768 ahead of Hailey Kinsel and DM Sissy Hayday.


*volume up* Michael Otero is one of barrel racing’s favorite tie-down roper husbands fo sho….but we think his wife, NFR barrel racer Carlee Otero and Blingolena are the coolest after their winning weekend. Here they are winning the Old Fort Days Rodeo, plus they cashed in deep at Mt. Pleasant, Texas. Full story and ProRodeo results from this weekend on deck at the link in bio.

♬ original sound – Randy Rogers

“I’ve been wanting to win at that rodeo for a while,” Otero said of Fort Smith. “Last year, it was one of Sly’s first rodeos and we blew by the first barrel. This year, I’ve figured out that I need to come running earlier so that he can get his initial speed burst out, level out and pay attention. It really worked in that setup.”

The winning weekend will help Otero, who’s already earned $19,731.02 in 2024 within shooting distance of the top 15. After a handful of days at home, Carlee and her husband, tie-down roper Michael Otero, will head out with their younger children for the Canadian Calgary Qualifier, Reno Rodeo and more. While Michael will also compete in tie-down roping during and Carlee will fly to and from the trail to maintain her outside-the-arena career as a real estate agent—a profession she now shares with her eldest daughter—Carlee and the rest of the family have their sights set on a 2024 NFR qualification for her and 6-year-old Sly.

“My plan this year is to capitalize on every run and win where I show up,” Otero said. “I’m not taking any other horses out there with me this year at the start. It’s a mental thing for me. If I only take Sly, I never second-guess myself on who I’m running. It helps my confidence to focus on him.”

Carlee Otero barrel racing

Although Otero finished No. 19 in the WPRA World Standings in 2023, she cautioned that leaderboards don’t reflect the reality of the rodeo trail all the time.

“Yes, we were successful in a lot of places in 2023,” Otero said. “But people don’t see all the bad runs. Sly is extremely turny, and I’ve ridden mostly stiffer horses. He’s a winner and I didn’t need to change him, I needed to change myself. Now, I’m showing up for him in the way that horse needs, and it’s working.”

Outside of riding changes, Otero also removed the tie-down Sly previously competed in recently, which she noted has helped free the gelding up through his runs. She emphasized the importance of working to find a balance when navigating a new barrel racing partnership.

“These horses aren’t machines,” Otero said. “They bleed, just like we do. You have to play with things, make adjustments and figure out what they need from you. This is true when you’re buying a finished horse that’s already a winner, or have one that’s younger that another trainer has been on. It could take you six months or a year to figure it out, and that’s okay.”

As barrel racers head West and North for the summer months, is bringing you stories behind top horses and cowgirls in WPRA barrel racing, plus coverage of the World Standings, Circuit and Resistol Rookie races all year long thanks to our friends at Equinety.

Stay tuned for full ProRodeo results from the first weekend of June here.