Women's Ranch Rodeo....Long Live Our Cowgirl Ways!!

May has been a crazy, busy month around here for me and my family. The month is starting to wind down now and today I am giddy with excitement! Tomorrow we head to Gillette, Wyoming for the first WRRA (Women's Ranch Rodeo Association) rodeo of the season for us up here in the north country. We haven't had a rodeo since last September so I'm really looking forward to it. My friend, Heidi Huggins of Bucking H Designs, has worked her tail off along with her helpers to put together an awesome event for us to enjoy this weekend. Hats off to them for working so hard!!There is something for everyone...even the kiddos!

Here is the poster for the Bucking H Bash:

I am so looking forward to competing with my team to try our hardest to win some of the amazing awards and prize money up for grabs. Here is my team:

One of the members has changed since this picture, but this is what we look like.....all decked out in our bright red shirts....true Cowgirl Swank color! Our team is called Cowgirl Swank so that should come as no surprise. The three other gals on the team are: Heidi Cuny, Randi Selle, and Rhonda Matt. Great girls who are all quite handy! :)

I wrote an article about the WRRA a couple of months ago, but the publication it was going to appear in hit a bump in the road and I'm still waiting to hear from them. I've decided that it's fitting to publish it here on my blog as I sit here waiting for the minutes to tick by until we take off tomorrow. Hope you enjoy the read! Here goes:

I grew up idolizing cowgirls. I was lucky because I had a great role model to look up to….my mom, Lila Glade. Just like my mom, I grew up on the same ranch in southeastern Montana north of the Yellowstone River smack dab between Little Sheep Mountain and Big Sheep Mountain. In truth, I don’t believe my mom aspired to be anything but a cowgirl/ranch woman. Don’t get me wrong, she went off and got a college education. She and her teammates even managed to capture the coveted Team Championship at the College National Finals Rodeo one of the years she was there! She enjoyed college, but deep inside I think she always knew her place was out on the range. She has always loved the outdoors and the animals associated with a cowgirl’s life: horses and cattle. My mom has always been a superior horsewoman and she definitely knows her cattle. She has had many accomplishments in her career as a cowgirl. I believe her greatest accomplishment was qualifying and competing in the National Finals Rodeo in 1976.

She may argue with me a bit on this because she has other accomplishments to choose from, but I think it’s incredible! My mom roped a little bit, but not competitively. Growing up, I had some of the best barrel horses ever to compete on. How many nine year olds do you know who get to ride a horse that went to the NFR? Not many!

The fact is I enjoyed barrel racing a lot when I was younger, but as I grew older my dad started showing me the joys of what a lariat could do. I wasn’t a roper at a really young age like some kids are today. I didn’t actively start roping until I was 12 years old. There was just something about roping that go in my blood right away. I can thank my dad for passing on his athletic abilities to just pick stuff up. That’s how it was with me and roping….so barrel racing eventually went by the wayside. I did have a slight challenge along the way because I am left-handed. My dad never viewed it as a “handicap” and he never tried to change me. He always thought lefties had an advantage when it came to breakaway roping anyway…..no crossing over to worry about! I taught myself to tie goats right-handed and it worked out just fine. I managed to win 3 state championships in high school in goat tying, pole bending, and breakaway roping. *I've even taken to heading right-handed now. It's quite a process and I'm not as "deadly" as I am with my left hand, but the fact that I'm trying to master both is a feat in itself. I love heeling, but it's good to be able to rope both ends (heading and heeling).*

I went on to rodeo one season in college. I decided college really wasn’t for me so I went off to the big city to learn about the retail world. Fast forward, 13 years…..this is where my story picks back up. I moved back to Montana in the late fall of 2004. I met my soon-to-be-fiancé in early 2005 and within a few months we moved to southwestern South Dakota and started working on my folks’ ranch (my folks had sold their ranch in Montana in early 2000 and had relocated here). I was home….and boy, did it feel good! With the help of my folks, Shane and I went into the cattle business in the fall of 2005. With that part of my life lined out, I set my sights on getting back into the arena. As fate would have it, I suffered a bad injury on the 4th of July. I was at home in our arena roping on the gentlest horse on the place. It wasn’t good. I got bucked off and as it was happening I hyper-extended my wrist on the swells of my saddle. I tore some ligaments in my left arm/wrist and cracked some bones. It took me years to get it to where I could use it effectively again. So, fast forward again to 2013….

I had been watching ranch rodeos for several years from the sidelines as my husband and his friends went and did their thing. I might mention that I had our son in 2008 so up until this point I was pretty content being the cheerleader and caretaker. However, something inside me started longing for my goal of roping and competing again. I had let my arm heal significantly and I felt I was “ready”. There was something about ranch rodeo that really appealed to me. Perhaps it was the team camaraderie, the events (tying down a steer looked awfully fun to me), the excitement and atmosphere of it all. Whatever it was, I was hooked….but I wasn’t ready to jump into it with the guys just yet. I didn’t feel confident enough for that at the time.

2012 came around and one day I was on Facebook. Something about “Women’s Ranch Rodeo Association” came on the screen. I stopped what I was doing and decided to check it out. Holy cow!! Here was an entire association dedicated to WOMEN in RANCH RODEO!!