When Lindsay Sears first picked up Sugar Moon Express ("Martha") from trainer Dena Kirkpatrick, it was just after the young mare's futurity year and Sears expected to spend 2006 seasoning her.
What she didn't know was that Martha already had her hammer down. As a "green"
6-year-old, she sent Sears, then 25, all the way to her first Wrangler National Finals Rodeo. When Martha injured herself late that season, however, Sears had to go to the dance without her partner, suffering through a miserable two weeks on borrowed horses at her first NFR, during which she hit nine barrels.
Despite that experience, Sears remained patient until Martha was 100 percent, and then went on a mission in 2007 to give her leading lady a chance to run in the City of Lights. Sears switched the mare last spring to run to the left barrel first, and not only did the reverse not faze Martha, it seemed to make her that much faster.
She blew through the pattern 10 times at the Thomas and Mack Center quicker than anyone had in 20 years, and had that first barrel in that first run not tipped over, Sears would have won the average by a full second. Despite the penalty costing her roughly $50,000, Sears, who won five of 10 rounds, banked more dollars in one event than any cowboy at the NFR-$119,255.
Hard to believe she could top that fairytale season, but it's happening. Martha and Sears won every paying round at RodeoHouston in March to rack up $61,500 and take a lead in the 2008 world standings that they haven't relinquished yet. Later, they also won the Calgary Stampede, worth $113,500, and through August were enjoying a $30,000 cushion on defending world champion Brittany Pozzi-Pharr.