Ttile caps injured horse's comebackAs great comebacks go, Dually makes Rocky look like a small-timer. After strong performances in the South Dakota Rodeo Association finals last weekend in Rapid City, Dually and his owner Wendy Halweg Bechen, of Rapid City, formerly of Mitchell, are the state’s top barrel racing team.
By: Ross Dolan, The Daily Republic
As great comebacks go, Dually makes Rocky look like a small-timer.
After strong performances in the South Dakota Rodeo Association finals last weekend in Rapid City, Dually and his owner Wendy Halweg Bechen, of Rapid City, formerly of Mitchell, are the state’s top barrel racing team.
“He’s got a big heart and a lot of try, or he wouldn’t have come back the way he did,” Bechen said earlier this week.
Just two years ago, Bechen wondered if her horse would ever run again.
On July 4, 2009, Flint Dahl, of Fort Pierre, stole Dually and took him on a rough joyride that severely injured the horse’s legs. Dahl was eventually convicted of inhumane treatment of an animal, but Dually was left with a long road to recovery.
Following months of rehabilitation, Bechen cautiously began racing Dually again in March 2011. They made it to the finals that year.
At this year’s SDRA finals the pair took second, first and third places, respectively, in three rounds of competition and earned the top SDRA final average score in the barrel racing competition.
“We were seventh going into it and we just had a really good finals. We placed in all three rounds, and then won the average and the year-end,” Bechen said.
The wins were enough to place Halweg and Dually first in the state barrel racing standings with earnings of $4,176 — barely edging out Hallie Fulton, of Miller, who took second place with SDRA winnings of $3,978.35.
“It was a tough finals and it was close,” Bechen said.
It was a busy year for Bechen and her horse.
In February, Bechen, 36, married Travis Bechen. She had moved from Mitchell to Rapid City the previous September. Travis Bechen is co-owner of Outlaw Fencing, and Wendy Bechen works as a business account executive for Midcontinent Communications.
“Travis has been great support for Dually and me,” she said.
Bechen got the half thoroughbred, half quarter horse when the horse was just a 3-year-old. He’s now 17 and still loves competition, she said. The horse’s intensity is apparent in their three rounds last weekend at Rapid City, which can be viewed on YouTube.
“I have to giggle when I watch it,” she said. “His ears are laid back flat and his nose is stretched out as far as it will go. He loves it.”
Bechen said her four-footed teammate still requires extra care.
“I have to pay attention and do a lot of things to make sure he stays at the top of his game. It’s like caring for any athlete who’s had an injury,” she said, noting that she regularly uses ice packs on Dually’s legs to reduce swelling after a competition.
“It’s been a slow process, but we’re figuring things out more and more,” she said.
Bechen and Dually will next compete around Thanksgiving. After that, there will be a brief holiday break before heading back to competition at the end of January. They wouldn’t have it any other way.
“I was born riding horses,” Bechen said. “It gets in your blood.”