Life after Dolly: Letcher resident Jill Moody trying to find ‘next great one’For five years, Letcher resident Jill Moody was competing in barrel racing’s biggest events on her trusted mare, Dolly.
By: Kevin Pottebaum, The Daily Republic
For five years, Letcher resident Jill Moody was competing in barrel racing’s biggest events on her trusted mare, Dolly.
Now with Dolly out due to injuries, Moody is starting all over again, hoping to find another top-notch horse. Two years, ago Dolly had pneumonia, but Moody didn’t specify the horse’s specific injuries.
“It been hard to have my own identity without her,” said Moody, who is scheduled to compete Sunday night at the Corn Palace Stampede Rodeo in Mitchell. “Everything I did was Jill and Dolly. Without Dolly, it’s tough to be Jill.”
Moody, who trains horses and competes in rodeos, began riding Dolly in 2004 and knew Dolly was special. By 2007, the two began competing frequently at the national level.
“I started riding her when she was a 4-year-old,” Moody said. “I knew she was a nice horse. As a 5-year-old it was apparent that she was going to be one of those top horses. I knew she was pretty special.”
Moody said she focused much of her time and energy on training Dolly, and now wishes she had focused more on her other horses as well.
“It kind of bit me in the butt,” Moody said. “I wish I would have put a little more attention into a couple others, but you kind of have to ride the ride when it’s going.
“It’s hard to play trainer and be a competitor and they call them once-in-a-lifetime horses.”
While riding Dolly, Moody broke a record at the National Finals Rodeo in 2010 in Las Vegas for the lowest time among all 10 rides. Moody said that feat was the highlight of her career.
She also was the 2008 and 2010 Women’s Professional Rodeo Association Reserve World Champion.
But now without Dolly, Moody has taken a step back and is focusing more on training new horses in smaller rodeos.
“I’ve chosen to back off and come back home,” Moody said. “I need to stay closer to home and get a horse competitive. It’s kind of starting over. I don’t really have another horse of that caliber. Dolly allowed me to take a bigger swing at things.”
Moody has three “pretty nice horses” and has been working to get them ready for bigger competitions.
She participated in a barrel racing event Tuesday in Mitchell at Horseman’s Sports Arena. Her horses underperformed and created a frustrating experience, she said. She ran three gos with three different horses. Two of the horses knocked over barrels.
Five-year-old Jesse is one horse Moody said has shown potential.
“It’s hard to take a young horse and throw him into big competition,” she said. “You’ve just got to step back every Monday and see how the weekend went. I realize it’s all part of the game. Maybe I need to bank on Jesse.”
Moody said one of the toughest aspects of not having Dolly is choosing a horse to compete on.
“It’s harder when you have horses to choose from,” she said. “You make a judgment call and then you second guess yourself. I knew what I could do with Dolly and never second guessed myself.”
The horse Moody will ride Sunday is still up in the air, although Moody thought she might try riding Jesse.
Moody said she hasn’t officially retired Dolly yet, but has come to terms with the idea that Dolly may never compete again.
Dolly is in Oklahoma, where she is being used for breeding.
“I don’t want to be the type of person to cripple her to the point where she can’t walk,” Moody said.
As for Moody, she’ll continue to compete on her horses and look for the next Dolly.
“I’ll always strive for the next great one,” she said.