The Cover Column – Volume #3
February 22, 2019
By Cheyenne Glade Wilson
Today I bring to you my third installment in The Cover Column series. I’ve been working on adding more names to my list of features. Believe it or not I’m all the way to the end of June. That means that I’ll be featuring a different gal every two weeks. The lineup I have so far is one that gets me excited! Their stories are all as unique as they are, and I believe their stories need to be told to the world. I hope you are enjoying this series so far. Today, I get to bring forth an amazing gal who is taking the bucking horse world by storm…Alicia Fettig.
Fettig Pro Rodeo is the first PRCA Pro Rodeo Company to ever come on board with a woman at the helm. Alicia Fettig is proud to be a third-generation stock contractor and she is also incredibly proud of the fact that her family’s stock contracting company, Fettig Pro Rodeo, is in its 87thyear. She says it is not only her honor, but her duty to carry on the family’s traditions. Alicia was born in 1973 and grew up on a North Dakota cattle ranch. She spent her days with her father (LeRoy) in the tractor farming, feeding cows, and riding horses. Alicia’s mom is Georgette Beckert. She attended school in Dickinson, ND and then went on to college at NDSU in Fargo, ND. She now resides near Killdeer, ND.
Alicia says that he father instilled in her at a very young age the importance of ranching, respecting the land, and the animals on the ranch. One might wonder how a gal gets involved in stock contracting. Alicia says it all started when she was very young and that her love of horses began then too. She rodeoed in her younger days and when he father took over Fettig Rodeo in 1992, she became interested in the bucking horses. She began going to the rodeos with her dad and their bucking horses. She says her dad wouldn’t let her help too much for fear of her getting hurt. When the time came for LeRoy to pass the reins of the company on to her she says it was hard and she was down-right scared. Alicia said it took a couple of year for her to find her confidence, strength, and happiness in the bucking horses. When I asked her about the horses she likes to ride she told me that she rides on of her bucking horses! What?! Not kidding! His name is Romeo. Alicia said that he is an awesome, beautiful horse. They use him in the bull riding as a pickup horse, queen horse, and he’s been used in several grand entries. She also said that they buck him from time to time and that he’s an all-around horse. Boy, I’ll say!! Alicia said that her bucking horses primarily have draft/Percheron and quarter horse in their blood lines. That love of horses has never ended and I can tell it never will!
When I asked Alicia about her family values and how they play into her day to day operation and towards her dreams and future goals, here is what she said, “I base everything in life on the strong family values my parents instilled in me. Treat people with kindness, always see the cup as half full, be thankful and remember to give back. Our time here goes by quickly and I am focused on living a positive, productive and adventurous life. Negativity, rudeness and disrespect are not welcome in my life. My family values carry into my rodeo operation in many ways. I will never shed negativity on other stock contractors in efforts to get ahead nor will I take from them. It’s a tough and competitive business, but there is room for everyone and the more we all work towards the greater good of rodeo…we will all flourish.”
As a woman in the stock contracting business, Alicia takes it very seriously. When I asked her about her business and what the most important aspect was she answered with much depth. She said that the most important thing in raising bucking horses lies within. Treating the horses with respect, teaching them to sort, haul and gather peacefully and slowly is essential to produce a solid bucking horse. The horses depend on her…having their trust and respect is very important. It doesn’t work any other way. Alicia did remark that this philosophy has evolved over time. Bucking horses used to be wild and handled with some force and fear. She reminisced that he grandfather Phil Fettig, great uncle Jack Fettig, and Ray Fettig used to bring horses to town to buck that had barely even seen a human. The cowboys back then could barely get their riggings and saddles on without the horses jumping out of the chute. Alicia said, “Today we raise bucking horses to be calm, confident, and able to perform as world class athletes. We have them on special feeding programs and them with respect, which promotes them to be the best they can be.” I, for one, love hearing about how Alicia and others in this industry are making strides towards bettering things as time goes on.
I asked Alicia about being a female in a predominantly male business. I was curious if she felt being a woman has ever hindered her in any way. She said, “Being a female has never hindered my growth or way of life. It has made me stronger.” Alicia’s advice to women about life in general is this, “Be your own person, don’t allow society to decide your life. Be loyal, have no expectations of others and own your mistakes along with your accomplishments.” I love this advice and mirror her words in my own thinking!
Alicia enjoys being involved in rodeo and bucking horses. She also enjoys traveling with her son, spending time with her best girlfriends who would do anything in the world for me. She also loves dancing! Her biggest focus as a mom is to ensure that her son, 11-year-old Grayson, is happy and that he follows his dreams. She hopes that bucking horses become a passion of his, but she is leaving it up to him. She supports him whole-heartedly. She said it’s a beautiful and amazing life to watch him become a young man. Grayson is her everything and he will always have her unconditional love and support.
With Alicia growing up in the ranching industry I wanted to see what her thoughts were about it. Alicia said, “I support the ranching way of life 100%. I support the cowboy way and the Cowboy Code of Ethics. Being raised around animals and having responsibilities to take care of animals teaches children to be accountable, nurturing, and instills a sense of belonging to their lives. We don’t have days off and the animals come first; we always feed them before ourselves. They depend on us and they bring so much passion to our lives. Whether someone I a rodeo cowboy, a farmer, a cattle rancher…there’s a little cowboy in us all. I encourage this way of life and mindset; it applies to everyone. I enjoy promoting rodeo and raising bucking horses. I will always support those who are interested and want to get into it.”
When asked about the decline of smaller farms and ranches in our country, Alicia said, “I don’t like it. Farming and ranching are tough businesses. We depend on so many uncertainties like weather, animal performance, and economic factors. Keeping the family ranch or farm is hard when parents pass on. It is very expensive to have to buy the other family members out to carry on the legacy and people have lost the respect for the land. When dollar signs are in the picture all some want is the money. The bigger guys can walk in and write a check without hesitation, easting up all the smaller farms and ranches. It is so important to keep the family land in the family. They aren’t making any more of it!”
Alicia’s thoughts on USA-Raised Beef continued on with her thoughts above about the decline of ranching. She said, “I support USA-Raised Beef and all beef should require a label defining where it is from. We need to support our country and cattle ranchers; less imports and more exports. The more we support our own, the better our country will be and will set a precedence and promote the world to eat USA-Raised Beef. Our farmers and ranchers are the backbone of America, we need to give the support back by passing legislation laws on labeling and imported beef.” I completely agree. I am a big advocate for COOL (Country Of Original Labeling) being reinstated. As hard-working ranchers, we deserve that much. And…hard-working, unsuspecting consumers deserve that much also!
When I asked Alicia about the quote that exemplifies her and her way of life she replied, “Do one thing every day that scares you.” ~Eleanor Roosevelt
After watching her pull those flank straps at the Black Hills Stock Show & Rodeo on her Fettig Pro Rodeo broncs on January 31stI’d say she is building a legacy for herself and her son. You can see by watching her that she knows her way around the bucking chutes. Before she said how she was scared of what she was doing. You don’t see that at all. What I saw when I watched her was a woman confident of her place and loving what she is doing. We can all aspire to that!