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Brian got started in horses when he was around five years old, but his parents sold out shortly thereafter, even though his Dad had always been a horse person. The bug was still there though, and Brian started back at age seventeen when his best friend, Jeremy Hughes, talked him into going team penning. “I ended up buying a cheap horse and penning every

Saturday. Sorting didn’t come to my area of North Carolina until several years later.” Within five years, Brian had upgraded horses and was attending USTPA events. He says, “I loved making the step up to the more prestigious shows. The USTPA strives to make competition fair, as well as financially beneficial to its members. National shows have $10,000 added and some regional finals have even more. Not to mention the saddles and huge prize money given at the World Show.” With all the success that the Buckner household has had over the years, Brian decided he wanted to give back to the association through volunteering. 2013 will mark his third year as part of the National Rating Committee, and second year as a director for the USTPA

(although the first year as the Director of Ratings). He has also helped with show productions, and generally anywhere else that he is needed. “I’m hoping to reflect positive and unbiased decision making when dealing with ratings,” Brian states. When a new rider goes to a regional show, they are tasked with filling out a form where they describe both their own and their horse’s ability. They then pick the rating where they think they should fall, and the director that is present at the

show must observe the team and adjust accordingly. If it is decided that the number needs to be changed, the matter is then reviewed by Brian’s team. “I pick the committee and they do the voting. We look at a lot of different things, ranging from win-to-loss ratios, the number of times you ride, your spend ratio, and much more. We’re always looking at ways to make the decision system better and as unbiased as possible in order to keep the competition fair,” says Brian. In addition to ratings, the youth organization is another area in which Brian is quite passionate. “The association will be in their hands one day,” he states when asked about the importance of

the youth within the USTPA. One of the programs that Brian is trying to improve is the youth scholarship fund, which currently gives $500 in scholarship money to deserving youth every year. “I’d really like to see the scholarship fund grow to around $10,000, which would truly make an impact on the receiving youth and bring the fund more in line with rodeo scholarships.” Brian then talks about the auction held at this year’s World Championship Show, which raised more than $60,000; over $20,000 of which came back to the association. “I would love for the auction to be an annual fundraiser with the proceeds going to the youth scholarship fund. It was a greater success than anyone would have imagined it could be, and I believe by designating the funds to the kids, it will continue to grow even larger.” Shiann Buckner, age 6, is just one of the youth that Brian has in mind when talking about growing the association and the future of penning and sorting. In her short lifespan, Shiann has already won two buckles, and started competing at just four years old. Shiann’s current mount is “Precious,” a good sorrel mare owned by Terry Brooks that the Buckner’s are in the process of buying back. “The running joke is that we want “Precious” for our “Princess!,” he says with a laugh. Brian encourages all USTPA participants to put in an effort to help the youth at the shows. “You may not realize it, but they watch every move that you, especially the professionals, make. They really want to be just like them,” he says. Brian and Sonya both make their living in the equine industry, but have found their niche more in the buying/ training/selling of their own horses versus being a typical training barn. “We ride anywhere from four to fifteen horses a day, four to five days a week,” Brian states. “Sometimes that is hard


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