NORTH AUGUSTA — Procrastination can lead to positive results.


Madison Blackmon waited until Friday night to make the decision as to whether or not she would compete in this weekend's Southern Rebel Barrel Futurity's youth and open divisions at The Hippodrome.


The teenager from Benson, N.C. rode Colonel Jet Smoke, a 6-year-old gelding, and a horse that for the most part she has trained herself, said Dale Blackmon, the horseman's father.


Madison began barrel racing at four years of age, in the pee wee division, where she was led with a lead line, said Kim Blackmon, Madison's mother. Madison began competing at age 8.


“We started off with English lessons, and that's why she has such good balance,” said Dale.


The Blackmons have had Colonel Jet Smoke for the past two years, but the horse who's better known around the barn as Cactus, has only been competitive in the sport for the past three months, said Dale.


Colonel Jet Smoke had some reining training, but didn't seem to have the aptitude for that particular discipline, and had been turned out to pasture, said Kim.


However, Madison and Cactus have formed an inseparable bond, and the rider/horse combination compete on the National Barrel Horse Association circuit, having qualified for the Youth World in July in Perry, Ga., said Kim.


“We're surprised at how well she's done,” said Kim. “We all trail ride, but she's picked up the barrel racing on her own.”


Ben Baugh has been covering the equine industry and equestrian sport for the Aiken Standard since 2004. Among the awards Baugh has won include the 2003 Raleigh Burroughs Award as the turf writer making the most impact on the Florida Thoroughbred Industry. Baugh is a member of the National Turf Writers and Broadcasters Association, worked for North America's leading Thoroughbred breeder Adena Springs in Ocala, Fla. And interned at Thoroughbred Racing Communications in New York, N.Y.