It was a tiny border town like hundreds of other Wyoming
towns that ran together in a blur. The same announcer droned on
and on about Tamsin Tucker’s accomplishments and awards and
theorized about her chances. Tamsin’s mind ran on automatic as she
thought her way through the race, oblivious to the roar of the crowd,
the smell of popcorn and hot dogs and hot iron gates, old leather,
sweaty horse, and manure. She visualized her horse, Chimborazo,
approaching the barrels, Tamsin’s body taut as she leaned into the
cloverleaf turns, keeping her limbs tucked and her hands quiet, but
driving hard, and then the final sprint down the alley leading out of
the arena. Check the cinch, check the hat, settle into a better position
in the saddle, recheck the gloves, seat the grip more firmly on the
reins—and then do it all again.
Tamsin glanced over at the newcomer on the circuit. She could
tell the girl was nervous. “You’re going to do fine,” Tamsin said with
The girl nodded. “Thanks.”
Tamsin was just visualizing the official handing her the trophy
when the bell clanged and Chimborazo exploded out of the alley
with a cloud of dust and a flash of Tamsin’s blue silk shirt.
They blazed around the first barrel, clumps of dirt flying up
in their wake, horse and rider a symphony of harmonious, well-
schooled movement. Tamsin’s honey-colored hair streamed back,
her face a mask of grit and rock-steady determination. The second
barrel blurred past. Just as they went into the third, she looked up. In
that brief moment her life changed forever. It was like slow-motion
agony. Her husband, Troy, better known as Bobo the rodeo clown.
With a girl.
One instant of lost concentration and Tamsin’s iron grip slipped.
She could feel Chimborazo’s hooves losing purchase. She was
yelling, “No, no, no!” but there was nothing she could do as the
arena floor came slamming up to meet them.