Laura Mote has danced around the spotlight at nearly every major WCRA event since 2018, but on May 19, the 19-year-old took center stage aboard Reb Hot Redbull when they broke Cowtown Coliseum’s arena record with a 12.967-second run and clinched the WRWC’s year-end Pro barrel racing championship.
“Before our run last night, I told Redbull we needed one of our best runs in that arena,” Mote, of Llano, Texas, said. “I knew it was going to be fast and tight. He knows when I need him the most and when he needs to kinda kick it in gear.”
Mote has had a running joke with Ricky Hibbler, who is tasked with making the ground stellar for barrel racers at the WRWC and other WCRA events, that she was going to be the first to run a 12-second time since the new pattern was put in place. Hibbler let her know he would do his part — and barrel racers have all reported that the ground in Cowtown Coliseum is looking as good as they’ve ever seen and felt, so he’s in the clear. The blazing fast times are reflective of his mastery of the dirt conditions.
In 2022, Mote finished second at the WRWC behind Hailey Kinsel and DH Jess Stellar, “Jules,” on their arena-record-setting run. When Jules ran in the second round of the Challenger division in 2023 with 14-year-old Wylie Jo Hodges and broke it once again, Redbull decided it was time to take back his spotlight.
The sorrel gelding, who is bred more like a rope horse on the bottom than a barrel horse, has had something to prove ever since birth.
“He broke his skull when he was a baby and had to have it wired shut,” Mote said. “He was four before anybody messed with him, and saying he was wild is an understatement. He’s still wild. We saw him at Reliance Ranches and he was turned out with a retired racehorse, Rock You, that won a lot on the track. That horse is one of the cockiest I’ve ever been around. He taught Redbull everything he knows about being overly confident.”
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It took the full team of Laura and her parents, four-time world champion bareback rider Bobby and decorated trainer Kate, to get Redbull into the winner’s circle. Mote began running the gelding as a freshman in high school, and they’ve been a dream team ever since.
Laura Mote has been a key player in nearly every short round of every WCRA event since the association began in 2018 but has narrowly missed out on the big checks. However, on Friday, she felt early in her run that it was going to be her moment.
“As soon as he turned the first barrel, I knew it was going to be fast,” Mote said. “You can just tell with him. It felt awesome. After that, I just thought to myself, ‘Okay, keep the rest (of the barrels) up because this can be really good.'”
Mote had fans on the edge of their seats when she touched the rim of the second barrel with her hand the entire way through the turn.
When she came out of the run, Mote didn’t even realize how fast it was when she ran out through the alleyway, only hearing the crowd shake the building with excitement and other contestants cheer from the holding area. When she did hear it, she was ecstatic.
The run wasn’t just a check on the goal sheet for Mote—it was a legitimate dream come true.
“It’s always hard for me to shut my brain off, but I took a nap before the performance,” Mote said. “I had a dream that I ran a 12-second time that night in the performance. I woke up and kind of laughed it off– a 12? I would have been happy with a 13.0 or a 13.1— but after I ran, it was the first thing that came to mind. I was like ‘Oh my gosh, I had a dream about this!'”
Not to discount any universal powers, but Mote’s mental work likely was a factor in that premonition. She’s a huge fan of visualizing and spends nearly as much time working on her mental performance as she does her physical, something she picked up from her dad, Bobby. That preparation helps her get her brain out of the way and allows muscle memory to take over in the alley.
“I go over that perfect run, what I want to do, and the feel of it in my head before the rodeo, and then when I get on, I try to forget it all,” Mote said. “I switch to muscle memory because I’ve already thought about that run all day. I turn my brain off, talk to Redbull, and then I pray.”
Mote may have earned her first gold buckle and $6,000 as the women’s world champion at the close of the season in the Pro division, but she isn’t done yet – she wants the $60,000 WRWC event title too. She’s already picked up a combined $4,900 at the event for her second-place finish in round one, fast time in the short round, and win on three in the aggregate with a combined 39.701 in the aggregate.
The Triple Crown of Rodeo round takes place on Saturday, May 20, at 1 p.m. CST. Stay tuned for full event results and the final running order before today’s round.