Turning the barrel

Yukon barrel racers loves the rush

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Macaila Portz delights in her horses Silver, Taz, Tater, and Jag. (Photo by Chey & Co. Photography))

By Carol Mowdy Bond
Contributing Writer

Yukon’s Macaila Portz started barrel racing at age seven, and she’s still going strong.

When most 3 year-olds were having teddy bear tea parties, Portz was taking riding lessons at Yukon’s Skyline Stables. And that’s when she fell in love. With horses, that is. A move to New York introduced her to the competitive side of horses. And at age seven, she began barrel racing.

A Yukon resident who attended Mustang High School, Portz now has some barrel racing awards under her belt. And she travels all over Oklahoma. Portz works with TriK Barrels, a barrel racing production organization. “Working alongside other women, we host races throughout the year at various places,” Portz said.

Portz is also a member of Better Barrel Races, or BBR, a barrel racing production based out of Norman. BBR’s world finals competition is the largest and richest division barrel in the nation. She is also a member of the National Barrel Horse Association, or NBHA, headquartered in Augusta, Georgia. NBHA is the largest barrel racing organization in the world.

“One of the best experiences I had was the first time I got to go out of state,” Portz said. “There were over 900 entries at this race. Being able to compete against other people from other states is a big rush.”

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Currently, the owner of four horses, Portz has a 25-year-old pinto gelding named Taz. As her first horse, she now uses Taz to give riding lessons. Her main barrel horse is Jag, a 13-year-old palomino gelding quarter horse. She raised her eight-year-old paint, Tater, from a new-born foal. And her six-year-old thoroughbred is Silver.

“Horses are therapeutic,” Portz said. “Just being around an animal like that can change your whole day. The way you can talk to them and not feel like you’re being judged, or feeling like someone is always there for you. And I enjoy the rush of barrel racing. This may sound cheesy, but I like to go fast. Not only that, but I like the community of barrel racers. The connections and the friends that you make, that enjoy the same hobbies that you do, that is life changing. In the past couple of years, I have made amazing friendships that I would not trade for anything. They’re people who will help you with anything, whether it comes to you or your horse.”

Portz owns a business, MTEquine. She trains horses, and offers riding lessons, including therapeutic riding lessons, to all ages, and she boards horses. She also has her equine massage certification and offers equine massage therapy.

As well, Portz is a PATH certified instructor at Savannah Station Therapeutic Riding Program, which is currently located in El Reno but will move to Yukon in the next few months. PATH, or the Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship, is the primary governing association for equine assisted therapy programs which bring about physical, emotional, and cognitive rehabilitation for people of all ages.

“I love training people to work with their horses,” Portz said. “And I love showing clients the best way to strengthen their relationships with their horses.”
Connect with Portz through her Facebook page MTEquine.