Barney, registered by the name of Wagul (Gulch/Waggley) was born in Kentucky by Fawn Leap farm May 9, 1997. As a yearling he was consigned at Keeneland Sales for a whopping $195,000. Unfortunately his reserve was not met so he stayed on to race for Richard and Debra Occhiuto, who owned Fawn Leap farm.
He started his racing career at age two in 1999. In his first race at Churchill Downs he finished a disappointing 11th in a field of 12. However he won his second race at Ellis Park. He raced until 2003, racking up 3 firsts, 4 seconds, and 1 third place finish. His career earnings finished off at just over $77,000.
Fun fact: he was Triple Crown nominated in 2000.
Throughout his race career he was ridden by multiple stakes winning jockey, Connie P. Doll.
He raced his last race August 15, 2003 where he was claimed by Chad Harden for $3500.
Chad originally bought him for an older gentleman but was surprised to find, upon flying down, at how small this horse was.
The older gentleman didn’t think much of this little horse, so Chad ended up keeping the horse for himself.
Barney was put on the back burner for a while, until an unfortunate incident where a few of Chad’s horses got injured. It was time for Barney to shine.
Chad was in for a surprise when he found out how well Barney excelled. For a small horse he worked hard. He first started by being paired with a much larger horse running as an outside wheel horse, he went on to help qualify the team for the Calgary stampede.
He proved his worth and was part of the team that took Chad to win the 2009 Calgary Stampede, as well as the 2009 Edmonton Chuckwagon Derby, making Chad Harden only the third driver to win both races in major cities in one year. He later went on to win the Klondike Derby as well as running in the Half Mile of Hell.
Barney has made a big impression. He has only taken one year off for a tendon injury for the entire time that Chad has owned him. He has proved to be capable of sitting in any team position. He has even helped Shane Carter with a few big wins, hooked as a left wheel horse.
Not only has this small wonder horse proved his worth as a chuck horse, he has also shown to be a great aspect helping shape tomorrow's exercise riders here at Olds College.
He is currently 18, but you wouldn’t know it with the spark he shows. He became part of the program when it started 8 years ago.
Since the start he quickly became a student favourite. He instilled confidence in each rider but would also throw a few bucks to keep the students on their toes.
“Barney the dinosaur”, as affectionately called by Nastia Zemtsova, helped rebuild her confidence after a nasty fall off of a three year old filly, which was her first fall ever. “The next few days the instructors put me on Barney and I couldn't figure out why I rode him for 4-5 days straight because I thought I was fine after my fall. I realized it shortly after when I finally got on a new horse I realized that I have Barney to thank for bringing back my trust, and my confidence in myself and the horses, and for bringing back that fearlessness. It’s amazing how one ride can change you and he was that one ride I needed.”- N. Zemtsova (personal communication March 8, 2015).
Kimberley Dunsmore found him to be a “phenomenal teacher who knew his job but also knew how to make sure his riders were always paying attention.” - K. Dunsmore (personal communication March 7, 2015).
Although his first ride on Barney was a mess, Manuel Alejandro Amando, went on to find Barney to be one of the best teachers he could have. “He taught me to me to defeat my fears and have more confidence in myself, I miss him very much.”- M.A. Amando (personal communication March 6, 2015).
Last year, in 2014, Barney came down with a bad case of colic while he was at Olds College. It didn’t look good at first for Barney, the vet needed to be called out. The vet administered some banamine and the students came together to take turns staying with him throughout the night. He made a full recovery.
He originally was picked to go to Olds, by Chad because of his wonderful disposition and he keeps coming back every year for the same reason. Everyone who has met him loves him and he has helped many students over the years.
This year when he goes back to the track he may go to the Outriding pen, a new position for him. Although Barney has already proven that no matter where Chad puts him on the wagon, he always seems to shine. Where ever he is, whether on the wagons or in the program, this little horse seems to excel. Don’t let his age fool you, he still has many good years left in him.