Lisa Mirabito, a Grand County local, and her horse Stewart are on fire in the barrel-racing scene and have claimed the top spot in a number of events here in Grand County as well as across the state.
The duo even claimed first place in this year’s D.R. Horton Classic, Colorado’s premier barrel-racing event, with an outstanding time of 14.9 seconds in the 1D class. Mirabito beat out 404 entries to claim the top spot in that race, something she considers her biggest accomplishment since she started barrel racing in events two years ago.
Though Mirabto, 42, is just starting to see success in the rodeo circuits, she has been on a horse since she was 14 years old growing up in Grand County, and has participated in barrel racing in the past, though not competitively.
“I was just one of those kids that wanted a horse so bad I couldn’t stand it,” she said.
Mirabito recalls riding her horse with her friend nearly every day in her younger days. “We pretty much rode our horses to death,” she said. “We would get on our horses in the morning and wouldn’t get off them until night.”
Mirabito even recalls riding her horse from her former home in Winter Park Highlands to the carhop at the old A&W in Granby when she was in high school.
Mirabito continues to enjoy the area, calling the Granby area home, and is now an accomplished farrier.
Her work allows her to be close to the horses she fell in love with as a child, and as her duties slow down in the winter, she is able to practice her barrel racing skills.
Finding the right horse for barrel racing, and training that horse, is one of the most difficult tasks a barrel racer faces, according to Maribito.
“It’s a partnership with the horse,” she said. “It takes a lot of time and money to find the right horse but when you do it is really rewarding.”
Mirabito said that she has found a horse in Stewart that works well with her, as evidenced by her successes.
Mirabito has only been competing in the past couple of years and still has a lot to learn about the sport, she said, although enjoys competing because of the excitement that comes from rounding those barrels in a clover pattern and dashing back across the finish line.
“I’m just an adrenaline junkie,” she said. “I really like the rush of going fast and getting in sync with your horse.”
Last year Mirabito was ranked 49th in the Northern Circuit standings, though she is looking to move up in the rankings for this upcoming year with her recent wins.
“I really didn’t give the pro thing the shake it deserved last year,” she said.
She plans to continue racing at any event she can and is planning on running in an event in Denver in January.
Thanks to her local sponsor, Carquest of Granby and Fraser, Mirabito will continue to enter the races in the Mile High circuit and, with a bit of luck and help from Stewart, she will continue to dominate the barrel-racing scene in Colorado.
Reid Tulley can be reached at 970-887-3334