Cowboy co-owners Nancy Warnimont (left) and Heather Palmer (right) are shown with Jimmy Bryant. Heather is holding her son Lincoln. Bryant will be wearing a tie-dyed shirt and pants in support/awareness for the Make-A-Wish kids they all raised the money for. Bryant is riding Cowboy for Nancy and Heather in an upcoming competition. Bryant is shown in insert riding Cowboy. (Photo submitted)
Cowboy co-owners Nancy Warnimont (left) and Heather Palmer (right) are shown with Jimmy Bryant. Heather is holding her son Lincoln. Bryant will be wearing a tie-dyed shirt and pants in support/awareness for the Make-A-Wish kids they all raised the money for. Bryant is riding Cowboy for Nancy and Heather in an upcoming competition. Bryant is shown in insert riding Cowboy. (Photo submitted)

NOTE: On Feb. 14, Jimmy Bryant and Cowboy tied for eighth in the semi-finals and have advanced to compete on Friday evening.

CONTINENTAL — When Jimmy Bryant rides the horse Cowboy during the richest one day rodeo in history on Feb. 19, he will be riding a horse from Putnam County co-owned and ridden by Heather Palmer, Continental.

Bryant and Cowboy have qualified for the semi-finals for the American Rodeo in Texas. They will be competing in the barrel racing category. Barrel racing consists of three barrels, where the rider has to run around each barrel in a cloverleaf pattern. The rider with the fastest time wins.

Palmer, co-owns the horse with her mother, Nancy Warnimont. She said she was unable to ride the horse herself in the competition because she would have had to take off too much time from work, so they let Bryant from Columbus, Indiana, qualify Cowboy and run him in Texas.

Heather met Jimmy about four years ago at a barrel show.

“We competed against each other and took turns beating each other in the Barrel races,” Heather said. “ I’ve always done real well with Cowboy so he drew people’s attention as one of the horses to watch. “

She said Jimmy is a professional horse trainer and offered his advice when she needed help with things she felt she needed to improve on.

“He was always the nicest, humble, give the shirt off his back type of person,” she said. When Heather and her husband Dusty had their son they decided Heather didn’t want to be traveling a lot to take Cowboy to the big shows several hours away and to the American, being off work and away from home for weeks.

“So we decided to give Jimmy the opportunity,” Heather said “He was more than happy to get to run Cowboy.”

Cowboy (registered name Little Bit of Cowboy) qualified in his first attempt in Lewisburg, Ohio.

“You had to be in the top ten to qualify and he got third place to qualify out of about 70 horses,” said Heather She said it is already a huge accomplishment to just qualify for this event.

“From there he runs in Fort Worth Texas on Feb. 14 to attempt making the top 30 out of 175 qualifiers,” Heather said. “If he manages that he’ll go on to the next round which is 10 horses running each night.” She said this will be aired on RFD-TV Feb. 15 to Feb. 17.

The top ten from those 30 get to advance to the American where they will have to run against ten professional barrel racers from the National Finals Rodeo.

“If a qualifier wins they can possibly win one million dollars if no other qualifier in another event (ex. bull riding) wins their event,” Heather said. “Otherwise it’s split between all the qualifiers that win.”

Although she doesn’t have much time to ride now because she has a baby Heather said her mother had her on a horse when she was six months old .

“And she entered me in my first show at four-years old,” Heather said. She has owned Cowboy with her mother since January of 2012. She said her mother always had a love for horses and had them before she was born.

Heather, who works at the Meadows of Ottawa as a Physical Therapist Assistant. said her son also rides and runs barrels.

Caring for Cowboy takes around 1.5 hours each day including exercising him three miles each day, cleaning the stalls daily and feeding him twice a day.

Because of qualifying for the American, Jimmy decided he wanted to give back.

“Together we all raised $16,000 for two kids’s Make-a-Wish wishes,” Heather said.

If he wins Bryant plans to give a good portion of his share to help out the children at the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

The idea to raise the money started with a video of Bryant saying that he would wear tie-dyed jeans to the RFD American if he were to qualify in response to the new rodeo fashion the kids are wearing.

Bryant’s wardrobe commitment spiraled into him promising to raise $16,000 for the foundation, which sponsors two children. Brantley Morren, a 4-year-old leukemia survivor from Bloomington, will split the $16,000 with a young girl from Seymour.

“Jimmy will be wearing a tie-dyed shirt and pants in support and awareness for the Make-A-Wish kids we all raised money for,” Heather said.