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Austin, Texas, attorney Kathryn Allen has partners inside and outside the office. She has partners at Graves, Dougherty, Hearon & Moody, where she concentrates on commercial litigation. Outside the office, there’s Risky Chris, a 1,100-pound dynamo who rode with her to victory in December 2000 at the National Finals Rodeo of the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association in Las Vegas. “This horse is really my partner,” Allen says. “He’s not just a horse to ride; he is my teammate.” Allen captured the title of 2000 World Champion Barrel Racer and a gold buckle with a series of winning runs during the 10-day rodeo. Each race, in which rider and horse weave around a line of 55-gallon steel drums, is judged on time. The winnings from these runs are added to the rider’s prize money from other events during the same year, and the top earner is declared champion. Allen came into the finals with a yearly total of $50,101, about $70,000 behind the leader, but won almost $100,000 in Las Vegas to take home the top prize. Her victory was even more impressive because she participated in about 50 events during the year, while many other top rodeo competitors take part in twice that number annually. Riding is in the blood of the 42-year-old Allen, who grew up on a ranch in El Campo, south of Houston, Texas. Her father, Grady Allen, participated in the first National Finals Rodeo about 40 years ago in the calf-roping category. Allen — who inherited the nickname Kappy from her paternal grandmother, Kathryn Eve — first sat on a horse at the age of 1. “They told me that before I could walk, I could ride,” she says. Allen has worked at Graves, Dougherty since graduating with honors from the University of Texas School of Law in 1984; she is a shareholder and has a full-time law practice. She also spends about 20 hours each week caring for and riding Chris. Her law partners have been supportive of her off-hours competition, and Allen arranges her schedule to allow time for law and riding. “I have a regular practice,” she says. “I try to do rodeoing on the weekends, except for six weeks in the summer, from mid-June to the end of July.” During that month and a half, Allen participates in rodeos across the West. Many of the events are in Wyoming, Nevada and Utah; two of the bigger rodeos are in Salinas, Calif., and Calgary, Canada. She focuses on the rodeos with the biggest prize money to increase her total earnings and her chances for a championship. The strategy works. Allen made it to the finals in 1999 and 2000. The first time, things didn’t go as well as she had hoped. After the event, Allen discovered that Chris, who wasn’t showing any symptoms, was sick. “After that, I thought it would be nice if we could go just one more time,” she says. “We got our shot.” ON THE ROAD AGAIN While she’s on the road, Allen stays in touch with her office. “When I’m gone, I’ve got my laptop and cell phone,” she says. “It gives me a lot of freedom. I love it. Just being able to answer questions gives my partners peace of mind and me peace of mind.” When she’s not at rodeos, Allen lives in Lakeway, Texas, with her husband, attorney Bob Roller, their two sons and about a half-dozen horses. The 13-acre property includes a barn and a practice arena. Chris, a 9-year-old sorrel gelding, probably has another six years of competition in him, Allen says. But she doubts that she’ll be able to hold on to her title because of her limited competition schedule. That doesn’t matter to Allen. The enjoyment she and her horse get from the competitions is more important than the winnings. “He loves his job. He loves to run barrels. I want him to keep loving it,” she says. “When I got this horse, I got him with the idea that if I could make it to the National Finals Rodeo one time, I could quit,” Allen says. “I made it twice.” And when Chris gets too old to compete, he’ll continue to live in Lakeway, where he’s considered a member of the family — a hungry member. His nickname is Hoover because he’ll eat anything.

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