Feature by: Bonnie Wheatley
When Britany Diaz, Desdemona, Texas, attended the richest one-day rodeo in the history of Western sports in 2014, it was as a spectator. After witnessing the event held at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas last year, she made a deal with herself that in 2015 she would be out on the arena floor mixing it up with her fellow barrel racers as a contestant.
“I told myself last year that I would get qualified to run there,” said Diaz, who was on hand last year in Arlington to watch her husband, Isaac, compete in the saddle bronc riding.
When Diaz, 31, and her 2014 WPRA Horse with the Most Heart, Dasher Dude, finished fourth in the National Finals Rodeo aggregate and earned $51,644 on their way to finishing fifth in the world with $154,590, their goal of making it to THE AMERICAN became a reality.
“I'm very excited about it,” said Diaz, “When Isaac made it last year, I thought, ‘This is awesome.' I think last year, with it being the first one, I think everyone was still wondering if it would work, if it was really going to pay like it did. Anytime you can run for that kind of money, it's a great opportunity and a great thing for rodeo.”
Diaz, a native of North Dakota, has owned her horse Dasher Dude, a.k.a. “Rootie,” since the mare was just a baby and did all the training herself. The gritty black mare, purchased for $1,000, will be 15 this year and has carried Diaz to two NFR qualifications, a 2009 Badlands Circuit championship and numerous major rodeo titles such as San Antonio, Texas, and Rapid City, S.D. Her success aboard Rootie allowed the journalism major to quit her job as a communications coordinator for a bank in 2010 in order to rodeo full time. By Texas High Dasher and out of April Dell Dude, Rootie took Diaz to 2008 Rookie of the Year honors in the Women's Professional Rodeo Association and was voted runner-up AQHA/WPRA Horse of the Year in 2014.
En route to the National Western Stock Show Rodeo in Denver, Colo., when we caught up with her for this interview, Diaz said that typically during the winter months she doesn't enter “like crazy” but had trips to San Antonio, Texas and Jackson, Miss., in addition to Arlington, on her agenda. As for her other half, Isaac is still working to qualify for THE AMERICAN so the two can compete there as a husband and wife team.
“He goes to those Professional Roughstock deals and is still trying to get qualified that way. I think you have to finish in the top three so he should know more in the next few weeks since they have one coming up in Rapid City,” added Diaz, who is sponsored by Purina, EQI, Platinum, Classic Equine, Four Bears Casino and Lodge, Horner Equine Veterinary and Farrier Service, Double J Saddlery and Hande Equine Therapy.