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Enjoying the Ride

While many are guilty of letting the stress of competition take the fun out of barrel racing, past senior 4D world champion Debra Pelletier simply enjoys the ride just as much as her horse MC Frenchmans Flame enjoys running barrels.

“He loves to run barrels,” Pelletier said. “I’ve had him since he was 3 years old. He’s solid and takes care of me. His foundation work was done by Ad Waddell, and then I put the rest together.”

The Trenton, Florida, National Barrel Horse Association member’s 14-year-old gelding gave Pelletier the world title she’s always dreamed about in 2016. She says “Frenchy” has been a keeper since day one.

“When I first got him, he couldn’t lope a circle and didn’t have much for brakes,” Pelletier said. “I had to ride him with two legs all over the place, he was pretty hot. Now he can do just about anything, you could ride him with your fingers now. I’ve had a lot of people tell me to hang onto him; [in 2015] after his finals run [at the NBHA World Championship Show], a lady approached me coming out of the pen and wanted to buy him. I looked at my husband and shook my head and said nope I need to keep him.”

The Massachusetts native previously served as NBHA state director for Massachusetts and Connecticut. The Pelletier family was named the NBHA Family of the Year in 2007—it’s safe to say barrel racing runs in Pelletier’s blood. She has run with the NBHA since 1998 and won her first buckle in 1999, but never tasted the glory of a world title until 2016.

“We’ve been going to the NBHA World Show since the early days of Augusta, in the civic center, the awesomeness of going through the tunnel in the civic center, there’s never been an experience like it,” Pelletier said. “It’s always been a dream of mine that maybe someday [I’d win a world championship], and it finally happened. Everybody was congratulating me and telling me ‘great job,’ people I don’t even know, and all I did was enjoy the ride on my horse. I do it because I love it, and it always makes me feel good with little accomplishments along the way.”

Article by Blanche Schaefer, photo by James Phifer of