Bending Polls

Riders competed in Pole Bending during the MGRA Riding for Dad event at the J Circle K Arena in Curryville. Photo by Stan Schwartz

CURRYVILLE—With Father’s Day just two days away last Friday, the Missouri Girls/Guys Racing Association held a Riding For Dad event here to celebrate fatherhood, and to give all age groups a chance to compete at bending poles and racing barrels.

MGRA is a non-profit organization working to preserve barrel racing in the Midwest. According to the association’s site, it provides members organized competitions for their mutual benefit and enjoyment. It has frequent competitions and publishes the results from those competitions online.

According to Dusty Brooks, president of the 2021 board of directors, “MGRA is one of the longest running non-profit barrel racing organizations still in operation today. MGRA was started back in the ’70s with a group of four members and has continued to grow and profit. We currently operate with a seven-person board consisting of four board members and three directors.

“We have six lifetime members that have served as a board member for a period of 10 years or more,” he added. “These members serve as an advisory board to help guide us along, with valuable knowledge that can’t be passed up.”

As the sun slowly set Friday evening, more and more riders kept pulling into the J Circle K arena area just north of Curryville. Jim and Karen Harrower, owners of the J Circle K, have made improvements to the arena since last year. There is now a holding paddock adjacent to the arena where the competitors ride. This allows each group of competitors a place to stage for the next event.

Announcing the competitions was Cameron Windland, who has been announcing for less than a year, but handling the events with practiced ease. He opened the ceremonies with a prayer, and after the National Anthem was played, the regular competition got under way.

The entire event was tagged “Riding for Dad.” Windland reminded the dads in the arena area to sign up to prove which one would be the Ultimate Dad—the Dad of All Dads. Rhonda Thompson, the treasurer with MGRA, said her husband would be riding in the Dad event, even though he was not a rider. He was doing it for his daughter, Morgan. In fact, Morgan held the reins of Ginger, the horse Shane was riding and ran him through the barrel course.

Windland encouraged Morgan to smack the horse on the butt after the last barrel and let him go to the finish. But she held onto those reins and ran her father on Ginger across the finish line with a time of 33:813.

The competition went late into the night. For the full results, go to and click on the Show Info/Draws/Results navigation button at the top.

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