Barrel Racing at the 2010 San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo

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Martha and Lindsay Sears might just be back. But, unless you weren’t paying very close attention, you might not have realized they were ever gone. After all, she finished second in the world standings by only $7,000 in 2009 after dominating 2008.

As she and Brittany Pozzi battled it out during the 2009 NFR, Sears and Martha faded in the last few rounds. As it turned out, Martha was hurting. After slamming into a gate in Bremerton, Wash., Martha abscessed in three feet and bruised her feet and her heels.

"She’s got extremely long fetlocks, so the bulbs of her feet hit the ground and she bruised so badly," Sears said. "We took the shoes off of her all fall. She didn’t have shoes from Bremerton to Omaha and then from Omaha to the NFR."

Then, after the seven rounds in Las Vegas with the out gate open, the decision was made to close it because rain was making the outside alley slick. After that change, Martha did not run as well.

"Usually I start her here in San Antone," Sears said. "She wasn’t 100% after the NFR and a month-and-a-half rest seems to really do her good. It took me a while to figure out how to ride her again and get our timing back. She’s running so much harder and she’s so much stronger and she’s so much more responsive to me than she was at the NFR."

Still, it wasn’t instant fix.

"Every year I go to Fort Worth and look like an idiot," she said. "Then I come to San Antone, look like an idiot for a few more rounds, and then it starts coming together. We were turning barrels in the wrong lead, it was horrible. I struggled the first three rounds here and won the fourth round, got lucky and then did well in the semifinals and did good here today. It took us a few rounds to get it together; it was me, not her. She was wondering, ‘What are you doing?’"

By the last round, they were on. She ran a 13.94—no one else broke the 14.00 mark—and won $17,112.

"She finally feels like Martha, she hadn’t felt like Martha since last summer," she said.