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Barrel Racing Grandpa


Buster

Buster Roark, a seventy-five year old barrel and poles horse racer from Lafeyette, Tennessee gives a whole new meaning to barrel aged quality. When asked how long he had been barrel racing, Buster's warm spirit, sharp wit, and genuine wisdom were apparent right out of the gate.

"Well, I've been on animals all my life. But, as far as speed racing, well I started that back in the eighties, when I was about fifty." Buster laughs when asked what drew him to the sport. "It was just here, and I liked what I saw. Plus, my daughter Erica Roark-Gregory wanted to race and so, I got into it with her. She doesn't ride anymore, but I still do. I ride and compete with my sixteen year old grandson, Taylor Bohannan. He's the one I like to beat, because he's the best. If I beat him, I win. Buster on Grey BoyAll his life he's wanted to beat Paw. Well, over the years, he's gotten really good. Yep, he's the one to beat."

Buster and Taylor ride Grey Boy and Grey Colt, two Quarter Horses. He sees his grandson just about every day. They live on adjoining farms. And, during the summer, almost solid, on Friday and Saturday nights, they're riding together. "In the winter we go to indoor arenas some, but not too much. Riding indoors takes the speed out of the horses. And it takes too long to get them back up to a full run. We train outdoors. On my farm, there's a barrel and a pole in an open field. There, the horses are looking for the poles and the barrels to run. There is no fence or arena to guide them. That's during their practice. Our horses are used to riding in the open field. We like riding in indoor arenas, just not too much."

Even more amazing than barrel and pole racing at seventy-five, Buster trains all his horses. "I grew up around horses. Back then that was just about the only power we had was horse power. I train all my horses. I've never bought one already trained. In fact, we just got Taylor on Grey Coltback from Kansas where I got two young Quarter Horses, one for my wife and one for me."

If you look at the success of his horses, you would have to say he's an excellent trainer as well as racer. Buster has won 3 first place finishes at the State level, and Taylor has 4 first place State finishes. "The State of Tennessee has been keeping records for forty-one years. Taylor broke a record that had lasted for twenty-two years. I broke a record too, but mine only lasted for about twenty minutes, then another rider broke myGrandpa and Grandson record."

Buster likes competing against people he knows. Before retiring he served in the Marine Corps, worked as a truck driver, and taught chemistry and biology and was a principal for seven years. Sometimes he ends up racing some of his former students. "I love that," Buster laughs. "I love riding against people I know, it's just more fun." But, his favorite competitor is his grandson Taylor. "Most of the time, Taylor and I run in the open class, and anyone can get into that, all ages. Sometimes they have different classes. Taylor rides in the 13 – 17 Class and I compete in the And they're off!Adults 50 and older Class. And, all the horse racing clubs in the State of Tennessee and some in Kentucky have State charters and they compete against each other all year. Then the top 5 horses of every club participate in the State Competition. They are all good, so when you win, you've defeated all the best horses in the State for the whole year."

Asked about bragging rights, Buster responded. "We don't brag, we let the clock do the bragging. Just look at the time when you come out. The time will tell you the whole story. That's why we like to ride against the clock. There are no arguments, you just beat the clock."

When asked about the benefits of riding at seventy-five, Buster laughs. "It keeps me active trying to beat a sixteen year old. He's really good, but he doesn't have as much experience as me, so I only beat him when he makes mistakes."

There can be no mistaking the fact that seventy-five year old, Buster Roark, and his sixteen year old grandson, Taylor Bohannan, are sharing the experiences of a lifetime barrel and pole racing together. Talking to Buster you definitely get the feeling that it's the best part of a very special relationship.


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