Kassie Mowry Talks $91,000 Day in Fort Worth, Managing Nerves and Standout Derby Geldings

Kassie Mowry weighs in after banking over $91,000 on three horses at the Breeders Challenge Finale 2023.
Kassie Mowry and Force The Goodbye
Kassie Mowry and Force The Goodbye. Lexi Smith Media.

Kassie Mowry took total control of The 2023 Breeders Challenge Derby finale in Fort Worth, Texas, on September 16, notching first, second and fifth-place finishes aboard three of her standout geldings to bring her horses’ earnings on the day to $91,375 before adding in any other sidepots or rollovers (See payout breakdowns below).

Mowry’s first loaded bullet was KL Touch of Heaven, the 2018 gelding by JL Dash Ta Heaven and out of Junior Country Girl by Deep Note JR . The pair changed the early leaderboard with their 15.758. Mowry earned

KL Touch of Heaven Pedigree

“I feel like he just put together a good, solid run,” Mowry said. “I felt like it was a good starting point for the day. It was our fastest time of the weekend, and I was really proud of that.”

“I’m just so grateful to have (these horses). I appreciate their try. When it comes to these events, I feel like I ask a lot of them, and they just give it to me. I’m amazed by them every single time. They’ve won a lot, but I’m still amazed every time. I’m just so proud and love them.”

Kassie Mowry

Next up was CP He Will Be Epic or “Will,” the 2015 grey gelding by Epic Leader and out of Percilla by Dash Ta Fame that Mowry made waves on at the 2022 National Finals Rodeo. They took the leaderboard over from Katie Jo Halbert and Miz Melania with their 15.655.

CP He Will Be Epic pedigree

“The ground was great, but we were last on the drag, so there was holes in it,” Mowry said. “That’s really hard for him, being a big horse with a long stride. He doesn’t have that quickness, so once he loses momentum it’s hard to get it back. But, I felt like he gutted it out and tried super hard. His turns were really nice and he just made one of his signature runs.”

Mowry’s final gelding in the mix was Force The Goodbye, the 2018 gelding by The Goodbye Lane and out of VF Forcit First by Burrs First Down, known as “Jarvis.” They smoked a 15.521 to beat Will out for the overall win.

“At that point, Will was winning it, so I really felt like I had nothing to lose.” Mowry said. “I was like ‘Jarvis, we’re just going to turn and run these barrels as fast as we can possibly go.’ He got the memo! He nailed his first and second, and gave me a little extra room going to the third. He does that sometimes, and he pulled it off and ran hard for me.”

For Mowry, having three horses in a short round of 30 horses felt like an advantage, and not just because of the numbers game—it helps her to keep her mental game on track.

“It helps me stay focused,” Mowry said. “You don’t have time to get nervous. That’s probably the best part. The adrenaline is still with you on the next run, and I think you can use that to your advantage.”

Pro Tips: Mowry’s Mental Game

“I do get nervous, but I feel like I’ve learned to channel that nervousness into focusing better,” Mowry said. “I used to choke, get sick and get really shaky. I feel like now, I’ve learned to be more calm through it.”

Mowry didn’t just learn to improve her mental game to win more barrel races. As is the theme for the respected cowgirl, it was more about putting her horses’ needs ahead of her own.

“I’ve had a lot of horses that were really fractious,” Mowry said. “I learned that I had to (handle my nerves) for them, because they feed off your energy. Will is that way. I have to be very careful and make myself be calm with him. When I got off (KL Touch of Heaven) today, who I had to ride really aggressively, and then get on Will, I had to walk up to him slowly. I was out of breath from my run, so I had to make sure I wasn’t breathing hard. If I walked up to him with that type of energy, he would have been more nervous before I even got on his back. They can feel it, so I’ve had to learn. And it’s taken a long time to learn how to manage my nerves better.”

The Breeders Challenge Derby Results: Finals

1Kassie MowryForce The Goodbye15.521$29,325$16,662.50$4,887.50
2Kassie MowryCP He Will Be Epic15.655$17,850$8,925$2,975
3Katie Jo HalbertMiz Melania15.678$17,000$10,200$5,100
4Rylee LeachIm So Sway15.698$14,875$8,925$4,462.50
5Kassie MowryKL Touch of Heaven15.758$12,750$7,650$3,825
Click here for full results and payout breakdown.

Coverage is brought to you by R. Watson Boots as part of Women in Rodeo Month 2023.