Ep 15: Perseverance to the Pinnacle | Dona Kay Rule & Phil Haugen

We were really excited when we were able to get Dona Kay Rule and Phil Haugen together for episode fifteen. Both from Oklahoma, these two equine professionals have been longtime friends and both have had a hand in the journey of a very special horse named High Valor. This story is a great one and we appreciated having a hand in telling it!

Dona Kay Rule

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Dona Kay and Valor at the 2019 Fort Worth Stock Show & Rodeo. Photo by Kenneth Springer.

While some may have not known who Dona Kay was until the 2019 season upon her first NFR qualification, she has been a long time extremely successful horsewoman, barrel racing producer, horse trainer, and business owner for many years! Hailing from the small town of Minco, OK in Central Oklahoma, she has qualified to the 2019 NFR at 61 years young on her great 10 year old gelding, High Valor, she is an inspiration to all of us! Valor was also voted the 2019 Purina Horse of the Year.

Valor’s professional career took off after an unfortunate accident leaving Dona Kay’s first string horse “Juice” injured, consequently putting Valor in the position to step up to the plate. Valor was bred and raised by Lana Merrick, additionally she sent him to Phil Haugen as a two year old to start and be trained. Lana sold Valor to Dona Kay when he was five years old, and Dona Kay has dedicated the past five years to training him, seasoning him, and finishing him on the pattern. The rest…is history! We wish Dona Kay the best of luck at the 2019 NFR and we will be looking for Juice in the grand entry.


High Valor- Valiant Hero x Rare High

  • 2009 Gelding

Juicy Adventure “Juice”- Smart Like Juice x Minis Daisey May

  • 2008 Gelding

These are the runs from Valor’s first big win in Waco, TX at the D&D Barrel Race with Juice winning 2nd!

Phil Haugen

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Photo by Impulse Photography.

Phil Haugen has trained over 1,000 horses for the public with a training career spanning over 30 years. Based out of Weatherford, OK, horses that have gone through Phil’s training program have exceeded earnings over $1M. One of those horses in particular was High Valor. “Valor” went through Phil’s training program as a two year old while he was owned by Lana Merrick.

Phil has developed a unique training style based on his experiences in and out of the competition arena.  His training program is focused on those fundamentals and his keen understanding of how to progress a horse in its training while mentally keeping that horse in a trusting, secure and confident state of mind. Phil’s philosophy is to train through understanding and that starts with a simple, common sense approach. He does this by building a solid foundation to to help each horse reach it’s full potential by focusing on effective and proven techniques helping the horse understand the response you are asking for, which in turn builds their confidence and yields success.

Today Phil is still currently training for the public, keeps a full clinic schedule, and has started his own podcast; Be Your Best Horsemanship! It’s available across all podcast platforms.


Dona Kay


Ep 14: Ryann Pedone & Kiley Dalchow | Keeping it in Perspective

In Episode 14 we visit with PRCA Great Lakes Circuit Barrel Racing Rookie of the year, Kylie Dalchow, and professional barrel horse futurity trainer Ryann Pedone. We enjoyed getting their individual perspectives on various aspects of competition! Coming from different arenas (futurity & rodeo) and not having met prior to this interview, it was a refreshing conversation regarding horses, the sport, mental toughness, and training!

Ryann Pedone

A native of Florida, after graduating college with a finance degree Ryann moved to Texas to pursue her passion of raising and training barrel futurity horses. Ryann has had a phenomenal career raising and training many horses that have gone to the pay window. With over $1.2 Million in Equistat earnings to date, Ryann landed in the prestigious list of Top 10 Riders of the Decade. It is safe to say at the age of 35, her future looks bright.

Ryann Pedone and “Stinger” competing at the Fizz Bomb Futurity. Photo by Ollie’s Images.


Ryann currently has a horse operation with over 80 head consisting of broodmares, colts, customer horses, and her own stallion she raised and trained. Ryann stands her stud Johnny Reb Jackson, aka Jackson, at HighPoint Performance Horses. He is an outcross black stallion by Confederate Leader out of the great dam Cause For a Kiss. She will begin campaigning his babies in 2021. Jackson is a Pink Buckle and Ruby Buckle Stallion!

Feel The Sting
Dash Ta Fame x MP Meter My Hay aka ‘Stingray’, PC Frenchmans Hayday


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Ryann’s Top Reads

As mentioned in the episode, a big part of Ryann’s mental game is reading and “keeping things in perspective”. We were happy to get Ryann’s list of top reads for mental performance and her favorite nonfiction American history.

  1. The Mind Gym
  2. Relentless
  3. Outwitting the Devil
  4. Captains and the Kings by Taylor Caldwell
  5. Richest Man in Babylon
  6. George Washington and the Secret Six

Kylie Dalchow

Kylie may only be eighteen years old, but she has already had quite the barrel racing career! This year she was crowned the Great Lakes Circuit Rookie Title along with placing 7th overall in the Rookie standings. In her spare time, she creates content for her YouTube channel, where she documents her journey traveling the country and competing in professional rodeos as well as competing on young horses and outside horses. She has had a lot of success at the high school, amateur rodeo, and now at the professional level. We know her future is very bright!


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Mental Strategies

  • Controlling your thoughts
  • Visualization
  • Drawing the barrel pattern