Category Archives: Ranch Rodeo

Horses Need Dentists Too!!

I grew up around horses. I don’t come close to knowing everything there is to know about them, but I have always felt adequately informed….until about two weeks ago. For some time I’ve been thinking about getting an equine dentist out here to check out all of our boys. I’m embarrassed to say that it’s been two years since we’ve seen an equine dentist and even then it was only a couple of our horses. There were a few “signs” that made me think we needed one (the way Doc tilts his head when he eats grain and experiences bit pressure, age on some of our horses, lack of dental care, etc.). Time just seems to pass so quickly and we are always busy out here on the ranch. In other words, I didn’t get it done as soon as I’d hoped to. Well, I finally found a guy who came highly recommended from several friends. He and his wife came out and spent the day at our place. Boy, did I get an education!

This equine dentist (who prefers to remain nameless, but if you want to know who he is just email me or give me a call and I’ll be glad to refer you) went above and beyond to ensure that we were informed and involved in the entire process from start to finish. This in itself was something new to me. Besides being an overall genuine guy, I found out that our equine dentist went through extensive schooling in Texas for several years and that he has worked on over 5,000 horses so far. He takes his trade very seriously and he is very professional. I felt confident that I had chosen the right man to trust our horses with and the fact that his wife works with him throughout the entire process is an added bonus. We were encouraged to stick around during the entire procedure, which for 11 horses was about 11 hours straight through. We got to feel inside each of our horse’s mouths before and after. I can’t even tell you how much each mouth was transformed! The fact that we were included in the entire journey of correcting tooth development errors was an epiphany to me and it made all the difference in my understanding of the importance of equine dentistry.

First up was my best horse, Doc. If you know me at all you know how much Doc means to me….enough said.

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I’ve been having some issues with him in the sorting pen and watching him eat made me worry for him. Well, after I felt in his mouth I knew why. His teeth were horrible….and his inner cheeks were all rubbed raw! I felt like the worst horse owner in history. I even got teary-eyed over it. We don’t baby our horses per se…..we let them be horses, but how I didn’t catch this earlier really caused me some distress. I decided right then and there that I was going to sit up and pay attention to the smaller details of our horses from then on. I will definitely never let our horses be in that position again.

The equine dentist was telling me how there are certain signs a horse can give you on the outside of his body about his dental health. One of those signs was big on Doc. His temporalis muscle (located in his forehead) was completely out of whack. It was longer and puffier on one side.

Doc Temporalis Muscle

Once we got inside his mouth it was evident what was going on. One side of his mouth was overcompensating for the other because his teeth were being ground off unevenly (causing the insides of his cheeks to be rubbed raw). When I first felt in his mouth it almost felt like I was feeling a tiger’s teeth….sharp and jagged.

Doc Dental Exam

Doc Dental Exam 2

Doc Straighten Top Teeth

Doc Straighten Lower Teeth

After the process was over, it felt like a smooth stone where those jagged points had been. It didn’t take long for Doc to be on the road to a healthier mouth with even teeth thanks to our equine dentist. Doc needed a little time to let his inner cheeks heal up, but within a few days I couldn’t even tell he had a problem in those areas!

We worked our way through 11 head of horses that day (ranging from 5 years old on up to 25). Dollar was the youngest patient of the day….he’s a big boy at only 5 years old!

Dollar Dental Exam

Each one was interesting with completely different areas needing help. I learned that horse’s teeth continue to grow until they are around 17-19 years old. I also learned that it is really important for younger horses (2-4 years old) to see an equine dentist and that it can make all the difference in their tooth development and future health at that stage in their lives.

The biggest shock we got was on Shane’s best guy and my back up horse, Shotgun. Here he is:

Shotgun Dental Exam 2

He is only 8 years old so I really didn’t expect any problems. Was I ever wrong! His lower #11’s (way back bottom teeth…or molars as we might call them) were the biggest (longest) the equine dentist had ever seen….in over 5,000 horses! See those long buggers way back there?!

Shotgun Dental Exam

He was absolutely shocked and amazed at what he found back there! We all felt in Shotgun’s mouth and couldn’t believe it at all. Once the dentist explained to us what Shotgun had been going through we could see the signs (hard to keep weight on him, lackluster hair in several small places, etc.). He had a very low grade infection because of these teeth and you would have never known it to look at him or in his mannerisms. Shane felt absolutely horrible about it as did I. The dentist said not to worry and that he would be right as rain in just a few days. He fixed those teeth and you know what, Shotgun looked like a new horse the very next day. In fact, I think he even kicked over his head a few times when we weren’t looking! This was yet another lesson to me on why equine dentistry is so important.

At the end of that long day, I wrote a fairly large check to the equine dentist…and I did it with a smile and a sense of accomplishment. I learned more about our horses in that day than I ever hoped to. We were treated like friends, students, and confidants all day long. The kids (my son and my nephew) even got to see what horse teeth look like (the equine dentist had a few from a previous removal). They were fascinated and each got to keep a tooth or two (that was highlight of their day)! Here is one of their treasures….err, I mean horses teeth. 🙂

Horse Tooth

Throughout the day, we were informed of why it’s important to keep up on your horse’s dental health (and it wasn’t a sales pitch). Perhaps if this fellow would have come in here and preached about spending up to $200 per horse every 6 months without taking time to inform us and including us in the process I may have felt like a lot of folks do. I’ve heard comments from various people. Things like: “older horses are the only ones who need to be floated” or “unless there is a definite problem, I don’t use those dentists” or “holy cow, that’s a lot of money to spend on your horses” or “I only take them in once a year if that”. I can tell you this; if you think $200 is a lot to spend on your horse then you must not think very highly of him/her. That may seem blunt, but here’s why I say that. Good horses are hard to find. So when you have some good horses a couple hundred dollars isn’t even a thought…is it?! I kind of compare that to this way of thinking: “I don’t use my horse much so I don’t shoe him….I just let the ground break off his hooves…he seems fine….when I need him I’ll just trim him up and lope off”. I guess that might work for some folks, but it just doesn’t work for me. I am happy with my decision to better my horses through their dental health. If you haven’t had your horses to a dentist lately, I highly suggest you do so. Look into equine dentists. Ask around to find a good one. We all prefer certain things about certain people. To me, it’s most important that folks be educated on what they do, passionate about it, considerate, and that they communicate with me. I know that I found the right equine dentist for us because he fits all of those categories. Your requirements might be different than mine. Nonetheless, get your horses on a good dental program. You will be so glad you did….and so will they!

Horse Happy Teeth

Oh and by the way, Doc and I just went to a weekend of women’s ranch rodeos in Hyannis, NE. He worked better than he has all year. We successfully sorted and roped every critter we came up against and he did so willingly without shaking his head or putting his nose up in the air to escape the pressure of the bit. How’s that for results?

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Plus, Turkey Track Livestock (my team) qualified for the WRRA world finals!

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I’m sold on equine dentistry, that’s for sure!

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Joan’s Marinated Cucumbers

I must be sick…..I’m sitting down to blog for the second time in one day! I have had difficulty blogging twice per month and now look at me go! 🙂 I’m going to hold off on publishing this until tomorrow (Monday) so I don’t overdo it today. Ha!

I’m listening to my son and his cousins arguing and playing….playing and arguing. Perhaps it’s the same thing?! 🙂 At any rate, it’s nice having them here. We don’t get to see them as often as we would like to. My brother took time to help me with Doc this morning. As most of you know, Doc is THE horse in my life who changed everything. I love him more than any other horse we own….he is my baby. Last weekend at the Cowgirl Swank Classic I wasn’t happy with our performance (meaning me and my horse). It seemed like Doc was out in left field….and I was there right with him. Roping is mostly on me (the misses and the catches), but even that seemed off. When I first bought Doc his previous owners were using a hackamore on him. Nothing against hackamores, but I feel like I don’t have much side pull in one of those so we’ve tried several different bits on him. A person needs side pull when you are learning to sort cows. The one he likes the best is the one made by Keith Welling from Crawford, NE. It has a broken mouth piece with a little lifesaver in it. It also swivels on the sides so it gives me some side pull without being all sidepull and no whoa. Anyway, Wyatt looked at several bits I have and decided that is the one I should use on him. I didn’t want to go back to using a snaffle so I was happy with his decision.

We spent over an hour at the arena. He talked to me a lot about the concept in working cows and how to achieve the job. Mind you, this is working cows in the arena….not on on the range. There is a difference. The concept is the same, but the handle is a lot different in certain ways. The end result is that you want to get ahead of the critter and turn it back. This is best done when your horse responds to you, slows up, and turns efficiently (a horse who watches a cow is also beneficial). Doc was not turning efficiently last weekend. His nose was up in the air…..I was double-reining him…..we both looked like it was our first rodeo. So…….I asked for help……and I got it. At the end of our training session I left the arena with a deeper understanding of what I’m trying to do with my horse. Doc left with a wet saddle blanket and the thought that he was surely close to death. I smile when I say that….Doc is a little melodramatic and I baby him….what should I expect? The truth is…..he did what I asked of him…..he did what Wyatt asked of him when he crawled on him. Doc is a tad on the lazy side, but I would rather have that than a horse who is jittered up and not trustworthy. I love my horse…..so in my opinion, he is perfect for me. We have work to do….both of us. I’m not above asking for help either…..I know I don’t know everything and that I can learn from those around me who know more. I’m really glad Wyatt took time to help me today! Here are a few pics of Wyatt showing Doc how to get the job done:

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Wheat harvest is finishing up today at our place. We are so glad to have it done and fortunate to not have had any hail. Wheat prices are down, but it’s all good. Here is a picture I captured of the two combines cutting one of our last fields yesterday. It’s amazing how these big machines gobble up all that wheat!

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Here is what the Slim Buttes looked like today after all the wheat was harvested:

Harvest Pic

I truly feel fortunate to live in such a beautiful place (despite it’s shortcomings in the good road/good water department)! It’s been a really good year so far…..we are truly blessed.  🙂

It’s been pretty hot and dry for the last week or so. Perfect cucumber weather if you ask me! That brings me to a recipe that Mom and I got from our neighbor, Joan Bolln. I’ve named it Joan’s Marinated Cucumbers. I don’t think it had an official name……so I gave it one. We’ve been making a variation of this recipe for years. I think Joan captured the perfect amount of each ingredient to make it taste the best. Give it a try and see what you think!

Joan’s Marinated Cucumbers

  • 3 Cucumbers, sliced
  • ½ an onion, diced
  • 1 c. Miracle Whip
  • ½ c. Sugar
  • Vinegar to taste
  • Salt & Pepper to taste

Combine the last four ingredients making sure to taste it. If more of one or two ingredients are needed, add them.

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I prefer my cucumbers to be a bit tangy so I use a tad more vinegar, but the end result is totally up to you. Add in the cucumbers and the onions. Mix it up really well.

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You can eat these right away or refrigerate for a day. I think letting them sit for a day in the fridge makes them better, but that’s just my opinion. I love this side dish…..oh who am I kidding…..I take the top off and eat them right out of the dish…..most any time of the day! 🙂 Enjoy! ~Cheyenne

Spaghetti Pizza

Wow….it’s been a busy couple of weeks around here. It is summer after all…..being busy shouldn’t surprise me, but I feel kind of like I got ambushed. It’s now Sunday after the Cowgirl Swank Classic and I’m just now feeling back to normal. A few days in 100 degree heat will definitely wear a person out!

The Cowgirl Swank Classic was a success again this year. We had 13 teams of ladies competing in the 5 standard WRRA (Women’s Ranch Rodeo Association) events:  Sorting, Doctoring, Trailer Loading, Tie Down/Mugging, and Calf Branding. It was definitely a memorable rodeo  weekend!

I’ve been struggling with fatigue this week plus Stone got sick. I ended up taking him to Rapid City to the doctor. Turns out he had double ear infections! I consider us lucky that he is almost 6 years old and this is his first run-in with that icky stuff. Of course he came down sick the day Western Horseman planned to come down to our place to interview me and take pictures for their segment “Women of the West”. I couldn’t believe my luck. However, it ended up working out. The gals from WH were super to work with. We improvised and met at the fairgrounds in Rapid City instead. It wasn’t what I envisioned for the interview (I didn’t get to show them our place and Doc didn’t get to be in the pictures), but all in all…..it was great! I was so honored to be interviewed and to spend some time with them. They may end up coming back up sometime and then they will make it out to our place hopefully.

We are finishing up our wheat harvest here. Shane has been helping out as much as possible so I haven’t seen him much the past few days. My brother and his two boys came yesterday so Stone is getting some good cousin time in. Wyatt (my brother) is going to help me with Doc in a bit. I’ve been practicing sorting steers. I didn’t feel we did that great last weekend in that event so I can use all the help I can get. Wyatt is involved in Reined Cow Horse events so he knows more about that aspect than anyone I know around here. I’m glad for his advice.

As far as cooking…..this summer has been difficult. It’s been long days and late nights. I made Pasta and Beef with Whiskey Cream Sauce at 10 pm the other night. I’m not a lover of frozen pizza and things like that so I figured I may as well make something good…..plus we’ve had leftovers for two days now (not Shane’s favorite thing, but even he hasn’t complained…..we are busy)!

A couple of weeks ago I made Spaghetti Pizza and I’ve had it on my list to blog about. I’ve made this recipe since high school. In fact, I make it from memory. I’ve never had a written recipe that I know of. Typing this out for you all is proving to be a challenge, but here goes:

Spaghetti Pizza

  • 1 ½ lbs. ground beef
  • 1 Onion, chopped
  • 1 TB Oregano
  • 1 TB Basil
  • 1 TB Italian Seasoning
  • 1 TB Seasoning Salt
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
  • 1 jar of Spaghetti Sauce (or make your own as I do. I use Tomato Sauce, Diced Tomatoes, Red Wine, Sugar, and Italian Seasonings)
  • Spaghetti, cooked
  • Pepperoni, sliced
  • Mozzarella Cheese, shredded
  • Parsley

Bring water to a boil and cook Spaghetti. I use about two handfuls (sorry I’m not more specific, but that’s how I handle spaghetti). Brown the ground beef. Add onion and seasonings as it is browning (adding more seasonings if necessary). Drain the grease off. When the spaghetti is done al dente, drain the water. Spray a 9×13 pan with cooking spray. Place the cooked spaghetti in the bottom of the pan.

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Make sure that it covers the bottom and fills the pan up about ¼ of the way. Next add the ground beef making sure all the spaghetti is covered. Pour the Spaghetti Sauce over the meat. You can also mix the meat in with the sauce before you put it on the Spaghetti (I did it this way this time).

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Layer the top of the Spaghetti Sauce with Pepperoni.

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Use as much Pepperoni as you like (I put it on pretty thick). Next cover the dish with shredded Mozzarella Cheese.

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Sprinkle some Parsley one for color. Put the pan in a 350 degree oven for about 20 minutes or until the cheese is melted and it starts to turn brown. Remove from the oven. Let cool for 10-15 minutes. Cut into squares and serve.

Spaghetti Pizza

This dish is delicious and it truly gets better as it sits. I’ve made it using half ground beef and half ground pork sausage. I’ve also made it using various “pizza” toppings. Any way you make it…..it’s super! I hope you give it a try! ~Cheyenne

Happy Father’s Day!!!

Today is Father’s Day….a day to appreciate the wonderful dads in the world! My family and I had a rather late night getting back from a kids rodeo in Broadus, MT. We had a lot of excitement there, which I will share with you in just a bit. First, I want to pay homage to my Dad…..and to my husband. Here is what I wrote about Father’s Day a month or so ago (for a few publications):

“As I sit down to write my column today it’s storming out and we are without power (thankful for my laptop with its battery backup). We’ve had close to three inches of rain and several inches of snow on top of it. The snow/rain continues to come down and of course, we are still calving. We are under a winter storm warning….and it’s May 8th! I think Mother Nature needs an attitude adjustment! I steady my thoughts by thinking of all the green grass that will be here soon.

Instead of pacing the floor and worrying about it I’ve decided to pay tribute to the “fathers” in my life today. After all, when you read this it will be around Father’s Day (the snow should be gone by then). I have two “fathers” to thank: my dad and my husband.

What can I say about my dad, Cliff Glade? If you are lucky enough to know him, you know what kind of a guy he is. He is a true cowboy/rancher with a wealth of knowledge that forty some years in the cattle business has taught him. He has a kind heart and he truly cares about his friends and family. I know I wouldn’t be where I’m at without him. We’ve had our fair share of standoffs (probably because I’m a lot like he is). However, in the end it also comes back to the fact that he is my dad and I am his daughter. We have an unbreakable bond that we’ve shared since I was born. He used to sit me on his knee when I was tiny and tell me that I could be anything I wanted to be. That sort of encouragement was huge for me. It truly allowed me to think big and go after whatever I set my mind on. He was always a “can do” type of person. Once he decided on something, he made it happen. I’m happy to think that I’m like him in that regard as well. I think the biggest tribute I can pay to him is to follow in his footsteps as a rancher. That’s exactly what I’m doing and I couldn’t be happier! Granted, I don’t do it alone. I have my better half to thank for that.

My husband, Shane, is truly my rock. He came into my life unexpectedly and we’ve been together ever since. We share the responsibilities around here. We make a great team and we will do whatever it takes to ensure the success of our venture. We help each other as best we can in all facets of our lives and the ranch is no exception. He is a great husband and the best father I could ask for to our son. He is also a staunch protector and he makes sure we have all that we need. I can honestly say that I found my soul mate and I know how fortunate I am in this regard. Shane is another “can do” person. He is a force to be reckoned with. Just being around him has made me better in all aspects of my life. I’m not truly afraid to do things anymore. If I set my heart and mind on something, I go after it! It’s a wonderful thing to surround yourself with people who encourage you. I’m not saying that every thought I’ve ever had has been a good one and I haven’t always been encouraged to follow every whim. However, when I kept after it the outcome has most always been favorable and if it wasn’t I learned from it. I got that from my dad and I see it in my husband daily. I’m happy to think that these two great men have rubbed off on me over the years.

What’s even better than what they’ve done for me? What they are doing for Stone. I am so glad to know that our son is growing up around strong individuals who work hard, speak their minds and who aren’t afraid to stand up for what they believe in (my mom and I fit this role also). In this world today, that is not a common thing. Ag folks are more fortunate than most in my opinion. We are privileged to live in the country surrounded by the animals and crops we nurture. We know the true value of life. We know and appreciate hard work and its outcome. We all know that sometimes the outcome isn’t how we had hoped, but in the end the life we live is a good one. We live in reality and I wouldn’t want it any other way. We also know the value of family and how important they are in our lives. I feel that we are truly blessed to be raising our son in the same fashion that we were raised in. If all goes like we hope, our son will be a father someday who can look back at his family with pride. The best tribute he can pay to his dad and his papa would be to take what he learns from them and apply it to his own life as a man. My hopes for him include that he: grows up strong, learns as he goes, is kind, works hard, speaks his mind, and above all else honors his family by being a good husband and father. I care not what he does for a living. I do hope whatever he chooses to do is honest, hard work that leaves him with a feeling of accomplishment at the end of each day (like we feel now). I believe that truly is the best thing any of us can hope for with our children. Happy Father’s Day to all the dads out there…..I hope you know just how important you are to those who love you!”

Dad & Stone on BJ My Dad

Stone on his cow My Hubby (and our favorite little boy)

So, onto our excitement yesterday! We debated on how to travel to Broadus, MT. Most of you know that we live 8 miles off the highway on a horrible gumbo road. This year has been so wet that it has truly made traveling anywhere a nightmare (I’m not complaining about the moisture….that’s for sure). Living out here has taught me to roll with the punches so that’s what we do. We decided that we couldn’t take a trailer. We might get out with it, but looking at the forecast we probably wouldn’t get home with it. So, we decided not to take our rig…..Stone’s horse, All Star, had to stay home (I’m sure he was really sad……I think I hear him sigh as he stood there eating clover that is belly high). 🙂

We took off Friday around lunch time. We travel through Rapid City, up to Belle Fourche, and through Alzada. There was a bad storm brewing so we pushed on through to hopefully get ahead of it. We hit some hard rain, but looking at the clouds….we were glad to get through without incident. Here is what we saw to the south of the highway on our way up:

Alzada Storm Clouds

Yep….it was scary! We picked up our oldest nephew, Tucker, in Hammond and gave him a ride to Broadus. We were glad to arrive in one piece. We had supper with our family and got ready for the big rodeo the next day.

At breakfast, Stone had to have his “Cowboy Coffee” to start his day off right. He told me he needed it before his big rodeo. He cracks me up!

Stone Drinking Coffee

We got to the rodeo grounds fairly early so Stone could ride his borrowed steed, Sarge. He had a great outlook for the day!

Stone on Sarge

And how did the day go? Well, our little 5-year-old boy won the All Around in his age division (0-5). He won first in the Stick Horse Barrels and the Goat Tail Untying, second in the Dummy Roping, and 4th in the Keyhole Race. PROUD doesn’t even cover what we felt!!! Here he is with the buckle he won:

Stone First Buckle

He was so proud of himself….and he should have been!

Here is his buckle:

Stones First Buckle

Of all the buckles I have won over the years (close to 50) this one means more than all the rest…hands down!!! A huge thank you goes out to Ray and Tedi Jo Williams for putting on the Rich Higgins Memorial Rodeo. It isn’t easy doing things like this and their hard work doesn’t go unnoticed. Also, a big thank you to the sponsors. Without generous folks things like this wouldn’t occur!

Here we are…..so happy and proud:

Family Buckle Pic

Stone learned so much with his win yesterday….just like he has from his defeats. He can’t win all the time, but he has learned through practice that you can better your odds of doing well in everything. That’s truly all we can hope for….that he learns with each experience in life. And…..when he does well, we can celebrate (like going to Olive Garden for supper on the way home) and when he doesn’t……we can discuss what to do next time. I truly never understood what folks meant when they said their children’s accomplishments overshadowed their own…..now I know….and Shane knows…..and we totally get it now…..and you know what, people who say that are right!! It isn’t about us anymore….it’s about the little boy we are lucky to call son. I feel truly blessed to be his mom. I am also blessed to have such a good man by my side. I have no doubt that our son will grow up to be a wonderful man…..who had incredible male role models around him…..my dad and my husband. As far as I’m concerned….that’s the best prize of all.

So, with that…..I say adios….until who knows when. I haven’t been adept at posting regularly….summer is here and we are busy….I will check in from time to time…..hope your summer is a great one! 🙂 ~Cheyenne

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 and 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:

BHB 2014

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

CS Team Hyannis

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 so 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.

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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. I didn’t feel confident enough for that (yet).

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!!

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I thought I had died and gone to heaven! I devoured what I could read there and then went on to dive into their website (www.womensranchrodeo.org). I read and read until there was nothing else to read.

In my reading, I found out that the WRRA was founded by Kansas cowgirls in 2005 and that each rodeo includes the same 5 timed events in each of their sanctioned rodeos. They are: Calf Branding, Doctoring, Sorting, Trailer Loading, and Tie Down/Mugging. Here’s what happens in each event (and here are a few pictures of team Cowgirl Swank in action):

Calf Branding – 3 Minute Time Limit. There is one roper, one brander, and two gals to hold the calves down. The roper goes in and snags a calf by one or both hind legs. She drags it out where one gal tails the calf down and the other has the rope. Once the rope is removed the brander is signaled. She runs over and “brands” the calf with a branding iron that has powder on it. Once the calf is “branded” it is let up and the roper goes back in for the second calf. Everything is repeated. Once the second calf is “branded” time is called.

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Branding Hyannis

Doctoring – 2 Minute Time Limit. All four team members start behind a line on their horses. Time starts when the first team member crosses the line. They take off after their steer that is on the other end of the arena. All four members are allowed to rope. The steer must be roped with a legal head catch within the first minute. The steer must be headed and heeled. Once this is achieved, one of the non-roping team mates jumps down and marks the steers face with chalk. Time is called.

Sorting 2 Hyannis

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Doctoring Hyannis

Sorting – 3 Minute Time Limit. Cattle with numbers on them are located at the end of the arena behind a chalk line. Time starts when the first team member crosses the line. While riding towards the herd, three numbers are called out over the loud speaker. They are in order (4, 5, 6 or 10, 11, 12 – for example). These are the numbers/cattle that must be cut out of the herd and taken across the chalk line. Any team member can sort, but only one rider can be in the herd at a time. Once a critter is across the chalk line, it cannot come back across or it is a no time. Also, no wrong numbered animal may cross the line. Once all 3 critters are across the line, time is called.

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Sorting 3 Hyannis

Trailer Loading – 2 Minute Time Limit. Cattle with numbers on them will be located at the end of the arena behind a chalk line. Time starts when the first team member crosses the score line. Any team member can sort, but only one rider can be in the herd at a time. While riding towards the herd, the number of the steer to be sorted and loaded will be called out over the loud speaker. This steer must be cut out from the herd and taken across the line. The steer is then trailed to the trailer and loaded in the first compartment and the door is shut. One team member’s horse is then loaded in the second compartment. Once the door is shut and latched all team members must run to a designated spot near the judge. Once there, the judge calls for time.

Trailer Loading

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Tie Down/Mugging – *This is my favorite event!* 3 Minute Time Limit. Steer will be let out at the opposite end of the arena. Team members start behind a chalk line. Time starts when the first team member crosses the line. Steer must be roped with a legal head catch in the first minute. No loop limit and all four team members are allowed to rope. Steer doesn’t have to be heeled; this is up to the teams’ discretion. After the steer is roped, he must be mugged and tied down by 3 legs. The three legs must be crossed. During the mugging process at least one team member must be in contact with rope or steer. All ropes must be off the steer and all team members must be clear of steer before calling for time. Time stops when one team member raises hands after the steer is tied down. Steer must stay tied for 6 seconds.

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Tie Down Hyannis 4

Tie Down Hyannis 3

Things don’t get much more exciting than those 5 events! I have been asked why there aren’t women’s rough stock events. I don’t have a technical answer on that except to say that I’m glad there aren’t. My 40-year-old body can’t handle much crow-hopping let alone a bucking bronco! I will say that I have been told that the WRRA’s outlook on their rodeos and events is that they want to include everyone and not exclude anyone. Even gals who aren’t bona fide ropers can participate as there are events that don’t require every single team member to rope (calf branding, trailer loading, sorting). Women’s bronc riding is only for a few select women who like to do that sort of thing (hats off to them too). The WRRA wants to showcase actual ranch events that occur on most any ranch. They want to keep it as safe as possible for contestants and animals alike. That makes perfect sense to me.

Since the WRRA sanctions the rodeos, their rules are followed and the gals participating must become members before competing. Money can be won and points are accumulated towards their World Finals, which will be held this year in Loveland, Colorado in October. Imagine, a World Finals…..for Women…..in Ranch Rodeos!! I was so excited about this that I called the phone number listed on the WRRA’s website. Enter Billie Franks into my life.

Billie FranksBillie is from Grenola, Kansas.

Billie is the Special Agent and Treasurer for the WRRA. She is quite a cowgirl and a determined leader of the association. We talked for quite a bit and struck up a friendship right then and there. With her encouragement and leadership, I decided that this was going to be “my thing”. Instantly it became my goal to get involved in this association and to hopefully host the first-ever WRRA rodeo in Nebraska.

I’m happy to report that I reached this goal last summer with the “Cowgirl Swank Classic” – Women’s Ranch Rodeo. I had a lot of help from some great people in the Crawford, Nebraska area. It’s a long story of how it all came to be so I won’t go into all of that. I will just say that with a positive attitude, hard work, and good people helping you…you can achieve most anything!

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So, what went on at the “Cowgirl Swank Classic”? Let me tell you….it was 2 days of the most amazing cowgirl action I have ever seen or been a part of! Imagine 12 teams of 4 competitive cowgirls, 48 well-trained horses, 50 head of steers, 25 head of calves, and over 2 inches of rain…..it was nothing short of the most entertaining rodeo ever! We had spills and thrills.….my pants were so dirty after each rodeo that they could have stood up by themselves….and I’m not kidding!

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CSC Branding

Me Muddy

The crowd was super….I was so worried that the rain would keep people away, but just the opposite happened. Crawford has such an amazing arena setup. It allows vehicles to pull up near the grandstands so they can look down over the arena. It truly couldn’t have been more perfect. We are still hearing comments about what a wonderful rodeo it was and how spectators and contestants can’t wait for the next one!

CS Classic Team Photo48 cowgirls competed at the 2013 Cowgirl Swank Classic. This is our group photo.

Like me a lot of the contestants are mothers and wives. We have our children and our husbands supporting us. The best part at our rodeos though is that the husbands are the ones in the stands with the video cameras ready to go and the kids playing in the dirt at their feet. Turnabout is fair play! Rodeo and ranching is about partnership. We have done it for them….and will continue to do so in the future…now it’s their turn to repay the favor….and they do it willingly. All of the husband’s I have visited with are thrilled with the advancements we are making for this sport. They truly think it is great and applaud us. They are happy to see their wives out enjoying themselves and having fun while representing our way of life. We ladies appreciate all the support we get from our families so that we can have our turn in the arena. It’s our turn to shine!

The first-ever women’s ranch rodeo in Nebraska was deemed a huge success. 2014 is going to be a very exciting year for women’s ranch rodeo in the northern region! We are in the planning stages for our second “Cowgirl Swank Classic”, which is scheduled to take place on July 20th and 21st in Crawford, NE.

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Another wonderful occurrence is other people having the same idea I did. They have taken it upon themselves to promote this awesome association/sport and put on their own rodeos. Hyannis, Nebraska was second last year with a two-day rodeo in September. They are planning for the second “Cowgirl’s Duel in the Sandhills” to take place August 2nd and 3rd. Three newcomers to the WRRA are Gillette, Hermosa (possible), and Cheyenne. Gillette, Wyoming will open the season with their two-day “Bucking H Bash” rodeo on May 31st and June 1st. Hermosa, South Dakota is looking at a possible date during their fair in August and Cheyenne, Wyoming is hosting a one-day rodeo on September 21st, which will close out the season for the northern division.

The great thing about how much interest has been generated in our area is that the ladies of the WRRA sat up and took notice. They are excited to have added us as their “northern division”. I was really glad to be voted onto their board of directors in December as was Mckenzie Minor from Hyannis, Nebraska.

McKenzie Minor McKenzie Minor is from Hyannis, Nebraska.

Together, we are pushing for even more expansion in the northern region in 2015. I envision additional rodeos taking place in Colorado, Montana, and hopefully North Dakota in the near future. With that said, if you are interested in hosting a WRRA rodeo in your area in 2015, please contact me. I would love to explain the process to you and answer any questions you may have. We are also searching for sponsors and people who want to get involved in this incredible association. Feel free to contact me at any time! I can be reached at thenativecowgirl@yahoo.com or on my cell at 605-891-1827. I look forward to hearing from some of you and continuing to work to spread this great association as far as we can.

As I said at the beginning of this column, I have always idolized cowgirls. The best thing is that through my life I became one. It’s one of my proudest accomplishments and I wouldn’t trade it for anything. I revere my fellow cowgirls. We may come from different backgrounds or similar ones. We may “cowgirl” in different ways, but one thing is for sure: we are kindred spirits. We try hard and we don’t take no for an answer. We love our horses and our families. We are winners inside and outside the arena. Long live our cowgirl ways!

How ‘Bout The American?!

Holy cow!! Did you watch The American this last Sunday?

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If you did you are probably just as excited about it as I am! The richest one-day rodeo actually crowned a $1 Million winner – Richmond Champion! What a great name….and how appropriate! And how about that Junior (Testa) Nogueira?! I have NEVER seen anyone heel like that in my entire life! He can rope like crazy and his presentation is like anything I’ve ever seen!

Junior

See what I mean?! The American certainly didn’t disappoint and I truly believe it opened up an entire new chapter for rodeo….I’m excited to see what happens next! It was great to see two of our friends/neighbors competing also – Chad Ferley, in the Saddle Bronc Riding and Lisa Lockhart, in the Barrel Racing. Chad ended up third overall and Lisa…..well, she took first place!!

Lisa Lockhart

She won $100,000, a new Polaris Ranger, and a whole bunch of other great prizes. I cried for her I was so happy…..I know how much Louie (and all of her horses) mean to her. She is one of the hardest working gals I know. It’s not uncommon to see her working her horses in below zero weather…..she is definitely not a fair-weather cowgirl! Her acceptance speech was classy and really heartfelt. I cried with her….again! What an awesome win for her!

It’s amazing to see how far rodeo has come in the last few years. It’s been a struggle and has experienced growing pains. The recent upheaval over moving the National Finals Rodeo the last few months has sure created some conflict. I’m sure glad there are people in the association who are strong and willing to fight for what they believe in – more money for the cowboys and cowgirls. Apparently the NFR will stay in Las Vegas for another 10 years……however, with the huge advances in big paying rodeos like The American, Houston, Calgary, etc……who knows who will be going where…..it will be interesting to watch this all unfold! ~Cheyenne

 

BHSS All Girl Stray Gathering

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Look at all of those cowboys and cowgirls!! There were 44 teams of 4 cowboys/cowgirls in the Open Stray Gathering and 10 teams of 4 cowgirls in the All Girl Stray Gathering last night at the Black Hills Stock Show in Rapid City, SD. It was 12 degrees outside and the wind was blowing…..so we were really happy to be indoors. However, it was HUMID in there…..holy cow!!! Our poor haired-up horses didn’t know what to think with all the heat in there!

The Open Stray Gathering kicked off at 7:30 pm with the first half of the teams. They ran 22 of the Open teams and then went into the 10 teams of the All Girl then went back to finish the last half of the Open. The funnest part about the All Girl was that it was a draw pot…..meaning that your name went into a hat and they drew your team that way instead of you entering up with people ahead of time. They do this a lot at team ropings…..I have to admit I was a bit apprehensive about it, but I loved it in the end! It gave me a chance to get to know some new gals and to just go out and have some fun (while trying to do well, of course)! 🙂

I entered twice and drew up with 6 gals I had never met before. The first team I was on included Denise Nelson, Jamie Kirkpatrick, and Rhonda Matt. I partnered up with Rhonda. By “partnered up” I mean that she agreed to head for me and I agreed to heel for her. The four of us girls had to break off into partners and each go after one of the two steers that were turned out at the end of the arena.  Here we are lined up and ready to take off!

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Next came running the steers down and getting them roped! Please excuse the blurry photographs…..but we were going FAST!! 🙂

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Rhonda headed our steer and I finally got in there and got him heeled……by 2 feet even….WOW!!

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Took me a bit to get my dally…..I’m a bit rusty….roping the Time Machine is different than roping a live critter! I did finally get my dally and still had both feet….I waited till Rhonda got off her horse and got to the steer…..I started to pull the steer to assist her as she tailed the steer over…..and man did she ever!

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Then Denise and Jamie got there to help. By then, I let go of my dally…tossed my rope, and got over there to help them tie the steer.

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Tying a steer isn’t as hard as it looks, but there is a method to it (and you want to watch those legs….they like to kick). My method differs a bit from theirs (but I’m open-minded and open to change). Rhonda and I discussed their method later on….made a lot of sense to me…..had never had it explained to me that way before. Anyway, we finally got the steer tied…..it seriously seemed like it took 5 minutes to get him tied. The deal is….the steer has to stay tied for 6 seconds after you signal for time and stand clear of him. He needs to be tied….tight….for it to hold. Different strings tie and hold differently…..the string we used wasn’t the kind I use, but we got the job done….even if I felt like I was going in turtle speed! Most importantly, he stayed tied! We took over the lead at 1:09…..later on another team got it done faster than we did, but we ended up in 2nd place. We were happy!! Here is a video link to our run if you’d like to watch it!

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It was a lot of fun and I can’t wait to do it again!

The second team I entered with included:  Kate Moen, Angela Harris, and Kate Helgeson.

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This time I partnered up with Kate Helgeson. Things didn’t go as well this time….Kate headed our steer really well……I missed….

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and I missed…..and I missed

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…..and I missed again…..UGH!!! After my last toss (and I say that with a smirk on my face) I became aware that our teammates had their steer caught and Kate Moen was on the ground after him. I ran down there and jumped in….we all did.

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We got him down….

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after a bit of a struggle….we almost had him tied when the 2 minute buzzer sounded.

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We finished the tie anyway…..cuz you just don’t quit. We may have gotten a no-time, but we didn’t give up. And that’s what’s most important….try hard, have fun, and never give up!! Speaking of never giving up…..kudos goes out to another team who had a bugger (and I say that loosely) of a steer! The team consisted of:  Rhonda Matt, Jessica Holmes, Kate Moen, and Abby Olson. Click here to watch a  video of their run….it’s a must watch……they rock!!!

Awards were given….some great ones too!

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First Place Winners:  Ashlee Jaeger, Tasha Welling, Alesa Jones & Jamie Kirkpatrick. Breastcollars donated by:  Triple R Tack

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Second Place Winners:  Jamie Kirkpatrick, Denise Nelson, Rhonda Matt & Cheyenne Wilson. Satchel/Purses donated by:  K Bar J Leather

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3rd Place Winners:  Tasha Welling, Aimee Janvrin, Jenny Walker and Tami Dyer. Caps donated by:  Cowgirl Swank

I didn’t get a picture of the 4th place winners, but they were:  Heidi Cuny, Tami Dyer, Abby Olson & Deanna Steele. Gift Certificates donated by:  Bucking H Designs

Congratulations goes out to all the gals who competed….It was such fun! A huge Thank You to Ashlee Jaeger for coordinating the All Girl Stray Gathering……it was well run and organized. Way to go!!

The guys entered the Stray Gathering in pairs. My husband was teamed up with our friend and neighbor, Shawn White. The entered with two other teams (the max amount of times they could enter). The first team they were with was Jeff Lien and Travis Nitsch, both from Chadron, NE. They had some tough luck as I was told. I didn’t get to see their run as I was with my teammates getting our awards and getting pictures taken. Their second run with Tyler Minor and Sage Haythorn, from Hyannis & Arthur, NE, didn’t go well either. I honestly didn’t keep my eyes on Tyler and Sage so I can’t speak as to what happened for them, but Shane and Shawn had trouble. They caught their steer…..

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but he wouldn’t go down…..and I mean HE WOULD NOT GO DOWN!!

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It’s really rare for my former steer wrestler – 250 lb – 6 ft. 2 husband to not be able to dog down a steer. I think this steer may have been on steroids….that and I think he was a bit ticked off by the time they got him as Team #35.

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All this time, Shane had a lariat wrapped around the upper part of his head…under his nose and by his eyes (no idea how it got there)….he said every time the steer would jump the rope would tighten and rub his face raw….yikes! I couldn’t see it from where I was and I can’t see it in these fuzzy pictures, but he told me all about it later and showed me the rope burns…..guess the steer won out this time. They got a no time. Tough luck……

Overall, we had a super time! No money was won (in the All Girl the winners took all the prize money)…..I did win a super cute satchell/purse donated by K Bar J Leather that is really cute!

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I’m super proud because this was the first bonafide “Stray Gathering” I have entered…..and I won something! I’ve been in mugging/tie down events in ranch rodeos, but I’ve never gone off and entered a Stray Gathering. It’s a big thrill and one of my favorite events! I will be searching for more of these…..and may even consider putting on a series this summer. I see this event spreading and gaining popularity quickly!

We got home about 1 am this morning….the horses were warm in their blankets and trailer….boy, were they glad to get home! We had a great time…..saw some friends…..met some new ones….and made memories along the way. What more can we ask for?! That’s what life is all about!! ~Cheyenne