Making History At The RFD American Million Dollar Barrel Race

If you’ve got anything to do with the barrel racing industry at all, you’ve no doubt heard the buzz about the first million dollar barrel race, The American, hosted by RFD-TV and sanctioned by Better Barrel Races. With the semi-finals held in Mesquite, Texas and the finals at the AT&T Stadium in Arlington, the American is a not only the most lucrative rodeo in the United States, it’s also the first time in history that men have been allowed to run barrels at a rodeo event.

Some of the top male riders in the country qualified to compete at the semi-finals but only one young man made it to the top twenty. That young man is Clint Sherlin of Athens, Tennessee. Bully By Design, also known as Red, is the horse that took Clint to the semi-finals. Red is the product of a long standing business partnership between the Sherlin family (Clint, his parents Joel and Nancy) and the Hayes family (Chris and Shelley, and daughters Bayli, Lilli, Maddi) of Philadelphia, Tennessee.

Clint and Red first shined in the spotlight when the pair won the NBHA World Championship in 2012, appearing on the cover of Barrel Horse News. The Hayes’ daughter, Bayli, has also gained notoriety with Red at several large barrel races as well and is becoming quite the jockey on such a powerful horse under Joel, Nancy, and Clint’s tutoring.

Having purchased two barrel prospects from the Sherlin and Hayes families, I have watched The American with great interest. However, it goes a whole lot deeper than that. You see, I’ve known Clint since he was a young kid riding any horse that was  thrown his way and making it look good. Joel has also been my farrier for many years, not to mention that Joel and Nancy both have invested countless (and selfless) hours in me while trying to make me into a better jockey.  We’ve went on road trips to barrel races together, and it’s always been an adventure from dodging tornadoes  and mud to dealing with flat tires. All those memories are very precious to me and are the reason that I’ve taken such an interest in The American.

For Clint, and the rest of the Sherlin family, the road to The American has not always been an easy one. They definitely didn’t start out with the best horses. In fact, it was horses that no one wanted that gave them their start. For many years, they honed their riding and training skills on horses with issues that most people gave up on. Although difficult, and most certainly with a delayed pay day, those years of riding problem horses  and making it work have not only turned them into one of the best riding and training teams in the country, but it’s also created a family that I would describe as “salt of the earth” type folks.

In a sea of top kicks and hundred thousand dollar living quarter trailers, it’s not unusual to see the brown and yellow  “Double OO” trailer, or a 1975 Mercury Grand Marquis if the Sherlin clan is in town. While the rest of the world has to have the latest and greatest, its their genuine down to earth practicality and their focus and dedication to making the best horses that make them a rare gem in the barrel industry.

Quite frankly, I don’t think there’s been a historical race as full of hopes and dreams since the match race between Seabiscuit and War Admiral. The common man was a contender in that race too. In a couple of days Clint and Red will be making their run for the finals at The American. Not only will that run be making history, but it will also represent the hopes and dreams of two of the finest and most down to earth families in the barrel racing industry.

Ride hard Clint & Red!

Joel & Nancy at the parade with their draft horses

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Joel shoeing SV Shawne Fire N Te, aka Fireman.

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Our trip to the Futurity in Fort Smith in the Double OO

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The Mercury on the way to the BFA in Oklahoma City. By the way, we’d blown a tire!

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7 Comments

  1. Joel was my farrier when we moved to Coker Creek, Tn. 6 years ago. Joel passed the rasp to Clint about 2 years ago. This young man is as professional and “down to earth” as his Dad. I always ask him how he is doing in competition. but he is always shy about talking about himself. I called him last Monday about shoeing my horses and that is when I found out about the American as he and Joel were leaving that evening for Mesquite. He made time and came up to Coker Creek and shod my horses before leaving. I watched the Semi finals and am so proud of Clint. I saw the interview that was done with him and one of the girl barrel racers. The interviewer asked him how he felt competing against the girls. He said he didn’t think there was any difference we just all ride our horses the best we can. I have been following and searching for any news. I guess there won’t be any until Sunday.
    . I would so love to be there to watch Clint in the American I hope he wins some money to build that fence he said he needed. Good luck Clint, I’ll be sitting here rooting for you on Sunday!!!

  2. We to feel very privileged to know this family. Zach loves to go down there for “boot camp” weeks and ride with Joel and Nancy. They hold a very special place in our hearts and are very thankful to have meet them. Good luck Clint, enjoy the ride – The Stooksbury Family

  3. I just read about Clint and his family and I am so glad I did. Like most rodeo folks….. I was surprised to see that a man will be competing …but…why not? I hope he does well and enjoys the friends he and his family will surely make !! Marian Roddy Sharp

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