Survivors: Houston Co. barrel racer, horse 'Starr' overcome debilitating illness

Survivors: Houston Co. barrel racer, horse 'Starr' overcome debilitating illness

HOUSTON COUNTY, TX (KTRE) - A Houston County girl with a passion for Youth Barrel Racing and her horse, Starr, have overcome adversity. Starr Lena, was diagnosed with a disease that paralyzed her. Lacey said after a year of recovering as a team, she and Starr have hit the arena running.

"Dad would just put me up on this old horse we had that was 30 years old, and I'd say Daddy go faster go faster," Lacey Stubblefield, Youth Barrel Racer.

In record-time Lace knew her heart would keep her on a horse.

"It's my passion, and I actually want to make a career out of it when I'm older," Lacey said.

The next step was finding the perfect partner to conquer her dreams with.

"It took four horses until I got Starr, and she's fast,"  Lacey said.

Starr Lena got her saddle and stirrups and became faster in the midst of the sights, sounds, and smells of the arena,

"We were doing good. We were going and winning every time we went. She was perfect,"  Lacey said.

Life knocked a barrel in Lacey and Starr's reign.

"Well she made the youth run, and she kind of slipped. We didn't think anything of it,"  Lacey said.

No doctor or therapist could offer answers when Starr's performance began to descend.

"They just said oh she's crazy. There's nothing you can do about it. You need to just sell her,"  Lacey said.

Despite missing competitions and opportunities, Lacey had loyalty to her partner.

"I told my parents I don't want to sell her because she's a great horse with great potential. Something is obviously wrong that we don't know,"  Lacey said.

After a year of unanswered questions and dead end doctor visits, Starr was diagnosed with a debilitating disease known as EPM.

"He started doing blood test on her. I was like oh my God what's wrong with my horse,"  Lacey said.

Lack of coordination, weakness, and muscle deterioration were symptoms to be addressed during a 10 day treatment and a long recovery.

"I stuck with her, and I had to literally stay off her for another 6 months. So I was off of her for a year,"  Lacey said.

Like a long lost best friend,  Lacey and Starr had to rebuild their relationship.

"We have so much in common. She like to take selfies like I do. We like to ride down trail rides to have a good day," Lacey said.

"I couldn't trust her, she didn't trust me, but I wanted to keep her because I knew what we had before," Lacey said.

Starr overcame EPM. The team has hit the arena's that feel like home.

"If it weren't for me sticking with her, and her sticking with me and not listening to the crazy people that were out there telling us it's not going to work," Lacey said, "the duo wouldn't t be back to the barrels."

"She's like my sister," Lacey said.

They are back in the arenas with a story of dedication, determination, and 'riding on faith.'

"I thank God for a clean run and my horse is fine. I just thank God because he gave me this," Lacey said.

Lacey and Starr aren't slowing down. They'll hit the arena again next weekend in Gainesville, Texas 
in the North Texas Little Britches competition.

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