Ivory On Fire has been hanging out at Emily Beisel’s for a couple years, but rodeo fans recently ook note of “Liza,” after she dominated at both legs of the Playoff Series events in Puyallup, Washington, and Sioux Falls, South Dakota.
When Liza made the final four round in Puyallup and clinched her qualification to the inaugural Governor’s Cup in Sioux Falls on October 28-30, the world noticed. When she pulled off a nearly clean sweep at the Governor’s Cup, tying only with Brittany Pozzi Tonozzi and SR Industry Titan in the first round before running away with the round wins in the following three performances, they really noticed (more on Sioux Falls results here). For Beisel, the spotlight was well-deserved and a long time coming for the mare.
Prior to her $43,250 in earnings at the Cinch Playoffs Governor’s Cup, Liza had amassed $32,700 in QData lifetime earnings between futurities and derbies with Shelby Ridling, and recorded earnings with Beisel at jackpots and ProRodeos.
Not only was the money exciting—Beisel is pumped to cash in her $20,000 voucher for a RAM Truck that she earned by winning the RAM “Top Gun,” award that was reserved for the highest-earning contestant in any event at the event. Beisel, like many ProRodeo athletes is looking forward to looking for a new RAM after the hard hauls of the 2023 season.
Oklahoma’s Best-Kept Secret
Ridling, Beisel’s longtime friend, trained Liza but had no desire to take the mare on the road.
“Shelby is Central Oklahoma’s best-kept secret,” Beisel said. “We have very different roles in the industry (Ridling trains horses and doesn’t care to rodeo), so we see (barrel racing) from different perspectives. We get to collaborate and bounce ideas around, so I definitely utilize her friendship and her knowledge. She’s truly our biggest cheerleader—she’s believed in (Liza) since day one.”
Ridling and Beisel ride together frequently. The five-time NFR qualifier is still without a riding arena at her home in Weatherford, Oklahoma, and opts to ride at local arenas or at friends’ setups, like Ridling’s. One day early in Liza’s training, Beisel gave in to Ridling’s urging to take the filly through the barrel pattern. It was a less-than-ideal outcome.
“I barely loped her through,” Beisel said, laughing. “And I think I untrained her in one pass. I was like ‘Are you sure you want me to ride this horse?'”
Ridling continued to urge Beisel to run the mare at a jackpot after her futurity season while Ridling was pregnant—insisting that she had a gut feeling the two were meant to be a team— and eventually, Beisel once again gave in to her urging.
“We went to a jackpot and I hit a barrel,” Beisel said. “But it was the most fun I’d had running barrels in a long time. There’s a difference (in feel) between a good horse and a great horse, and that mare just had that feel. Shelby was pregnant at the time, and maybe she was a little hormonal, but she was bawling on the way home, I was bawling. We immediately put together a plan that worked so I could buy Liza and ride her that worked for both of us.”
After that, Liza’s career advancement was inconsistent due to small injuries and other minor inconveniences that kept her out of the limelight. She had glimmers of stardom, like breaking a local arena record in 2022 and finishing deep in the 1D with a 17.0-second run on a standard pattern at the Ruby Buckle derby, but hadn’t received her own limelight, away from Beisel’s stellar lineup of horsepower until September 2023.
Beisel still works closely with Ridling, and has as she’s navigated the process of figuring out how to keep the mare in the winner’s circle. Moving ahead, Liza helped solidify her spot on the trailer to head to Las Vegas alongside Namgis D 33, “Chongo,” to potentially run inside the Thomas & Mack in December.
Broadcasters and critics declared that the Cinch Playoffs offered up a potential preview for how riders and horses might handle the Thomas & Mack come December. Entering No. 3 in the 2023 standings with over $158,000 earned in 89 rodeos, Beisel will be closer to world championship territory than she’s ever been in the past. She’s have to surpass 2021 champ, Jordon Briggs and two-time world champion, Brittany Pozzi Tonozzi, who’s in the driver’s seat with a record-breaking over $270,000 earned on the year. However, with over $28,000 up for grabs in each of the 10 rounds and over $70,000 for first in the aggregate, anything is possible, especially for the redheaded cowgirl entering Las Vegas with a strong lineup of horses.
But Beisel’s not thinking about a gold buckle in the present, she’s laser-focused on the upcoming Prairie Circuit Finals, some downtime at home and in appreciation of the chance September awarded Liza to show off and show out.
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