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McFarlin ‘horse sense’ results in rodeo success
Addis siblings rule, Fletcher sisters win, Snowden tough, Sanseverino, too

Chuck McFarlin of Farragut, a former Von Smith drag racing team mechanic whose service helped produce two world championships in IHRA Alcohol Funny Car, was ready to pass on his success.

But horse sense eventually prevailed.

“That’s what I was wanting, I wanted to build a junior dragster for the girls,” Chuck said about standout rodeo performing daughters, Heather, 15, and Haley, 11.

“But my wife [Cherry] went and got a horse.”

The rest is history, as Heather, a sophomore at Farragut High School, won the inaugural East Tennessee Youth Rodeo Association All-Around Senior season award [ages 14-19] Nov. 9-10 during finals competition in Speedwell, including barrels and poll bending events.

Haley, a fifth-grader at Farragut Intermediate School, was runner-up in junior All-Around, barrels and poll bending [ages 11-13].

“I’m proud of my daughters, very much so,” Chuck said of their accomplishment in a 20-event season, held Fridays and Saturdays, from late February to early November spanning sites from Unicoi County in upper East Tennessee to Vonore in Monroe County.

“It was a long, drawn-out year. I’ve good bosses, they’ll let me off work [early] so I can [go].”

Heather battled Jade Snowden, also an FHS sophomore, for All-Around senior season honors. Jade won senior goat tying for the season.

“[Heather] and Jade, it came down to basically the last rodeos to who was going to win the All-Around championship,” Chuck said. “Her and Heather basically fought all year on everything, even in goat tying. … and it was pretty close on barrels and polls and the All-Around championship. And they both also competed in breakaway roping.”

Ironically, the McFarlin girls aren’t “chips off the old block” in terms of equine success despite living on a farm.

“I’ve only sat on a horse twice in my life, and my wife hasn’t rode one that much,” Chuck said. “Heather wanted a horse when she was nine. … She’s been riding about five years. Haley’s been riding about four [years]. We started off with a little pony for Haley.

“Haley got into it because Heather was into it,” Chuck added.

Between concern for avoiding injury and dread of seeing his daughters make a mistake and lose valuable points, “It gets a little intense every now and then,” Chuck said.

While Haley currently has one horse, Heather has three according to Chuck. Heather’s horse for barrel and pole racing, Dandy, is a 23-year-old filly that had won several competitions before the McFarlins purchased her. Heather’s other horses are Secret and Wrangler.

Haley competes in barrels and polls with “her little horse, Cherokee,” Chuck said.

As for the youngest girl’s success, “Haley, this year, has just really stepped up a lot from where she was last year,” Chuck said. “I finally got Haley to listen: ‘your sister’s trying to help you, listen to your sister, she’ll help you.’

“She listened to her older sister and did what her older sister told her to do, and she really just stepped up a bunch on riding capabilities,” Chuck added. “Used to she was happy just kinda go out there and barely walk around, walk the pattern. … She was kinda a little intimidated by the horse, kinda scared.

“Heather worked with her quite and bit, and now she’ll get out there and run little Cherokee about all Cherokee’ll do.”

With Chuck saying his family has spent several thousand dollars over the years relating to rodeo, Haley’s receptive attitude and enhanced competitive nature are appreciated.

“One of the biggest expenses now is the fuel cost just to get back and forth,” Chuck said of the expense that is multiplied by hauling up to four horses to each event. “You go to rodeo where the entry fee for both kids is like 50, 60 bucks, and there’s $200 worth of gas.”

How expensive? This year alone, including horse-buying costs, “probably five-[thousand], six-thousand,” Chuck said.

Chuck admits being “lucky” with only limited veterinary bills while getting good deals on “decent” horses.

“I wish I had more money that I could afford to do more for ’em,” the father added.

The girls also have competed out-of-state in such events as Georgia Junior Rodeo [ages 4 to 13] before ETYRA was formed and began in 2007.

As for choosing a statewide high school association in which to compete, “The Georgia high school and a lot of your Kentucky high school rodeo [associations] are actually closer than the Tennessee [associations],” Chuck said. “All of Tennessee’s are from Nashville [westward]. Most of ’em are around Jackson and Memphis.

“We haven’t really looked into it to see which association we’re going to go with,” Chuck added.

Is there a future for the girls in rodeo?

“[Heather] is hoping to get a scholarship to Middle Tennessee State, they’ve got a rodeo team,” Chuck said about the Murfreesboro campus.


The Addis sisters of West Knoxville also are making their mark in rodeo.

Victoria Addis, competing in Buckaroos [ages 7-10], won All-Around season honors, including barrels and poll bending events.

Samantha Addis won All-Around for the season in Pee Wees [ages 2-6], including barrels and polls.

During a summer ETYRA event in Kodak, the Fletcher sisters of Farragut mopped up with first-place and high finishes.

Lucinda Fletcher, an FHS sophomore, finished first in Senior pole bending, goat tying and breakaway, and second in barrels.

Her younger sister, Natalie, an eighth-grader at FMS, was first in Junior barrels, breakaway and goal tying, and second in polls.

Carly Sanseverino of Farragut, a sophomore at Webb School of Knoxville, has proven to be a top ETYRA performer in 2007 as a Senior pole bending, ribbon roping and team roping champ, with top finishes in goat tying and breakaway contests.


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