Tag Archives: Ranch Rodeo

Empowerment of Women

I wrote this article almost a month ago, but I wanted to share it with all of you today.

Empowerment of Women

By the time this article comes out it will be October. This month has a special place in my heart because it symbolizes empowerment for women. That may seem odd to some since October is officially Breast Cancer Awareness month, but the reason behind my sentiment goes back to when I worked in retail in the big cities. October was the time for girlfriends to get together to celebrate life and their health by getting makeovers, having mammograms, and taking part in charity walks, etc. The awareness of one of the biggest killers of women somehow brought us all closer in a positive way.

What does empowerment of women mean? According to various sources, empowerment refers to increasing the spiritual, political, social, or economic strength of individuals or communities. Throw the “women” part in there and I bet you know what it is focused on. Women have come a long way over the last 100 years, but the path we have carved for ourselves is still being built. Each of us takes part in our progress every day. That may not seem realistic, but I believe it’s true. Everything we do in our lives is witnessed by those around us. It’s important to never forget that especially as women.

Living in the agriculture world can sometimes take the empowerment of women part away. I don’t mean that in a negative sense. It’s common knowledge that living on a farm or ranch is hard work for everyone. There is no “fairer” sex when it comes time to getting things done. It’s hard to get away for a spa day with the girls (if it ever happens at all). Life takes over for us ranch gals when we get married and have children. We are the caretakers of our families and they rely on us to be there every hour of the day. It’s easy to lose sight of our own aspirations and dreams if we don’t pay attention. This is where women’s ranch rodeos came into play for me. I had been looking for something to get involved in for some time. I was looking for something that “empowered women” in a cowgirl sort of way and boy did I find it!

This past summer WRRA (women’s ranch rodeo association) members have been going down the road to various sanctioned rodeos competing in our 5 events: doctoring, branding, sorting, trailer loading, and tie down/mugging. We have all been trying our hardest to cinch up a spot in the world finals. We will be vying for the coveted titles of Year End Champions, Finals Average Champions, and Go Round Champions in Loveland, Colorado at The Ranch Events Complex on October 17th and 18th. One of our three performances is even themed for Punchy in Pink (breast cancer awareness). With women’s ranch rodeos being so close to my heart, now October means that much more to me!

The women competing come from a collection of states: Texas, Kansas, South Dakota, Wyoming, Nebraska, Florida, and Montana. We have had sanctioned rodeos in Kansas, Texas, Nebraska, and Wyoming. We have experienced a lot of growth up here in the northern region this past year and we look forward to even more in 2015. If you want to see some fun, action-packed events come on down to the world finals. It’s guaranteed to be unlike anything you have seen before. Plus, the association’s main purpose is to support empowerment of women in agriculture while we represent our way of life. I don’t know about you, but it doesn’t get any better than that in my opinion! www.womensranchrodeo.org.

Like I said, I wrote this for my column in The Wrangler Horse & Rodeo News almost a month ago. The WRRA World Finals is now over with. How did it go? GREAT! It was a lot of work, but it ran quite smoothly. We experienced a few things that we learned from, which will allow us to make it even better for next year. Here are a few pictures from the World Finals (thanks to Tanna White of Western Lifestyles Photography for the great action shots!):

World Finals Branding Singletree Ranch

World Finals Doctoring Cowgirl Swank

World Finals Doctoring Y Six Livestock

World Finals Sorting Antelope Springs Ranch

World Finals Sorting

World Finals Tie Down Ranchn Rebels

World Finals Tie Down

World Finals Trailer Loading 4 Random Hands

World Finals Trailer Loading Ranchn Rebels

When it was all said and done, the Push Hard Cattle Company were the winners.

Champions Push Hard Cattle Company

My team, Turkey Track Livestock, didn’t have the greatest weekend in terms of winning, but we had a great time, worked together as a team, and came out of it stronger than before (also we were more sore than before too….see the pictures below)!

World Finals Mugging Turkey Track Livestock 2

World Finals Mugging Turkey Track Livestock 3

World Finals Mugging Turkey Track Livestock

A full week later, my hip is still majorly sore (I’ve been to the chiropractor twice). Bridgit (my teammate under the steer) had some horrific scrapes and bruises when it was all said and done. It’s crazy, but we LOVE doing this! 🙂

I think that is the most important thing in life….having fun…..and loving what you do! The women of the WRRA certainly love what we do….or we wouldn’t be doing it! It’s an amazing thing to be a part of an association that builds women up. We perpetuate the role of women in agriculture and ranching, while showcasing our lifestyle. I can’t think of anything better. The WRRA will soon be holding its elections. I have submitted my “Letter of Intent” for the position of President. I would love to have the opportunity to be a leader in the WRRA. 2015 will be an amazing year for our association which will include growth, awareness, and new partnerships. I will write about what we stand for until my hand falls off….if that’s what it takes to get the word out to the far ends of the earth. I guess you could say that I am quite passionate about the WRRA. What we stand for is an amazing thing! I believe the empowerment of women is vitally important. I’m so glad that I’m getting a chance to make a difference and to help make positive strides in our industry!

It’s NEVER Too Late!!

The last few weeks have been about changes for me…..BIG ones! I got 10″ cut off my hair and donated it to Locks of Love. It felt great to give to such a great cause! I even got bold and had my stylist add in some caramel highlights. I absolutely love it!

My new hairdo

Then last week I announced that I had sold the crystal designs portion of my business, Cowgirl Swank, to my friend and former employee, Kayla Lien. Some folks were worried about me…..like I was going off the deep end or something? Not to worry! All is well here….I’m just focusing on other things (the ranch, homeschooling my son, etc.). I’ve been wrapped up in Cowgirl Swank’s activities for the past 7 years. I am enjoying my new found freedom. I knew the transition would be an easy one because Kayla has done crystal designs for the past 3 years so the only things that changes essentially is the business name and the fact that I’m not involved anymore. The same great quality and style of crystals designs on headwear will still be there! I wish Kayla and Rough & Rowdy Designs (her new business) the best of luck!

So, what else is changing? I wish I could say that I dropped 20 pounds like I was supposed to for our upcoming family pictures, but….yeah, that didn’t happen. The change that I’m talking about is really focusing on making things happen. You know how folks sit around and talk about their dreams and goals? You know how it sounds so achievable when you are talking? Well, why don’t we put those plans into action? Put our money where our mouth is so to speak? I’ve been guilty of this in the past, but as time goes by and the years add up I have had some time to think about this. I look in the mirror and I realize that I’m not a kid anymore (no, I don’t have one foot in the grave either, but you get what I’m talking about). Life goes by fast……and if you don’t have purpose before you know it you will be out of time. SO…….I’ve been thinking about all the things I had on my bucket list when I was 30 (11 years ago). I ran across an old copy of this list when I was cleaning the other day (see there are positives to cleaning). Right at the top of the list was “compete in Breakaway Roping again”. Ahhhh……there it was. The elusive goal that I hadn’t achieved yet. It may seem like a simple thing to some of you….just go get on your horse, back in the box, nod your head, and rope the calf. Well, it’s not that simply. Let me back up a bit…..

On the 4th of July, 2005, I was doing just what I described above. I was on one of the gentlest horses on the place roping at home. I backed in the box, nodded my head, and took off after the calf. He was a runner and I was late. I kicked old BJ up there and low and behold if he didn’t suck back and go to bucking…..what the heck?! I didn’t even know this old fart could do that! I’d like to think that he came uncorked like Tipperary, but I’m sure he looked more like those horses on the Merry-Go-Round…..nonetheless he unloaded me as I was mid-kick and mid-swing when he did this. So, yeah….there I was up in the air…..I came down hard on the saddle horn and hyper-extended my left wrist (my roping arm). I then proceeded to hit the ground like a bag of potatoes. It wasn’t pretty…..he knocked the wind out of me pretty good. I was laying there looking up at the sky with the most intense pain I’d felt in a long time in my wrist. Shane and my dad ran up to me to see if I was dead I’m sure…..nope, but I felt like I might die any minute. I got up after a bit and eventually hobbled up to the house. I took a bath….or tried to after I unloaded the 5 gallon bucket of dirt out of my shirt and pants. Eventually the pain got the better of me and we headed to the emergency room. Long story short….I didn’t break it…..but it would have probably been better if I had. I tore a bunch of ligaments in my wrist and hand. There really wasn’t much they could do for me since some of those ligaments are like fishing line (too tiny to repair). I was in a brace and a sling for a long time. I played the waiting game. I favored my left arm for a long time (even after the brace and sling were gone). I actually developed something that I had never had much of before….FEAR. Mostly it was fear of getting hurt again, but it was fear no matter how small. My dream of competing in breakaway roping sort of drifted to the back of my mind and to the bottom of my list as life took over and time slipped on by.

Fast forward to 2012 when I first learned about the WRRA (women’s ranch rodeo association). All fear left me in that instant as I vowed to get back in the arena to compete. It took some doing, but the summer of 2013 I did just that at the Cowgirl Swank Classic. I had the biggest smile on my face that entire weekend…..in reality I don’t think that smile ever really left. There is nothing that compares to rodeo…..no matter what event it is. I absolutely love competing in women’s ranch rodeos. I found a permanent home late this summer with Turkey Track Livestock. Our team consists of Tiffany Hampson, Jenny Walker, Bridgit Downs, and me. I feel like I’ve known these girls my entire life….and that it was meant to be!

Over the past 2 years I have been gaining confidence with my wrist in the 5 events at the women’s ranch rodeos. There are weird things that happen with it and I do tend to protect it. Sometimes stirring something on the stove, brushing my hair, or carrying a bucket of water or a bale of hay will set it out of joint. It tweaks it and it hurts like crazy. I just have to work with it until it goes back in (it can take minutes…..or days). It’s strange…..and unsettling, but for the most part that happens less and less. I think the best thing for my wrist is to continue using it as much as I can. So, a while back I was driving home in one of my daydream states when I started thinking about breakaway roping again. I should also tell you that breakaway roping has been in my blood since I was 12 years old. It was my very favorite event in high school and I was pretty darned tough at it. Tough enough that I won state in high school my senior year. Here are a couple of pics of me in high school competing in my favorite event:

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Here are my 3 favorite buckles (the ones I won at state in high school);

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*Shane and Stone have both won buckles this year so far……I am on a major mission to win a buckle before the year is over (more on this later)!

Some of our friends were at the youth rodeo in Oelrichs and they were talking about the upcoming SDRA rodeo. For many years I thought about entering it as a local, but never got the gumption to do much about it. Well, one week out I decided that I was going to enter it come hell or high water. That’s just how I am for the most part. I figure….go big or go home so here I am going big again! Shane entered the team roping with Kelly Dyer. I entered the breakaway roping and the mixed team roping with Shane. Kelly’s wife, Tami, is also in the breakaway roping and the mixed team roping with her husband. She is also involved in the WRRA and is tough competition (and a great gal). What fun this will be!

I won’t say that I’m going to go out there and be a fast 2……man, I’m just goaling myself to have a nice clean run. I’m not unrealistic about what I can do…..after all…I’ve had one practice session in 9 years and I haven’t backed into the box for 23! I like to think big, but not so big that I set myself up for failure. I’d like to think that next summer I can go to more of these and do some more breakaway roping. I guess we will see what happens. I’ll definitely make sure to report in to let you all know how I did….win or lose. One of the most important things in life is to remember that It’s NEVER Too Late to set goals and go after things…..you only get one life so make it a good one!! Wish me luck! 🙂

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!

The Storm Atlas

A couple of weeks ago I got a message from a friend asking me to call her, which I did. Come to find out she is on the board of the Black Hills Stock Show and she asked me if I would read my poem “The Storm Atlas” at the opening of the BHSS Ranch Rodeo Finals. Apparently, several people had requested asking me. I was surprised and completely honored!

I began writing poems when I was quite young. I’ve always had the ability to do it…..just get a thought in my head, scribble down a few words and within minutes have a complete poem written out. I’m not patting myself on the back…..or saying that I’m well-known for my poetry. I’m not……..well, not yet anyway…..have to think positive, right?!

I became a published poet at 12 years old. I’ve always written with a lot of emotion attached to my words. The poem I had published at this young age was about a horse my grandpa had given me. Our neighbor ran into him and several other horses of ours on Christmas Eve…..it was awful…..they all died or had to be put down. It was my first knowledge of drinking and driving and it has stuck with me all of these years. Shortly after this occurred, my grandpa passed away suddenly. In just a short few weeks, death had touched me….deeply. I wasn’t the type to cry a lot, but words would pour out of me like tears for some. I wrote this poem almost a year after it happened. After that, I wrote a lot of “dark” poems when I went through adolescence. It was my escape and I’m glad I had it. I stopped writing poems after I graduated from high school. I think that the ability and need to write has just been laying dormant in me for all of these years. It took a major emotional episode to make it come out again.  Nowadays I have more tears….maybe because I’m a mother now. I swear that motherhood brought an entire bag of emotions that I never dealt with a lot before Stone was born…..not that I’m complaining. 🙂

Fast forward to October 2013. A normal October for most of us……with the threat of a winter storm. We’ve had those before….and never thought much about them. We still had our calves on the cows….as did most people this time of year. We normally ship around the middle of October (send our calves off to market). Our spring had been tough on us as we were still reeling from losing 50 head of baby calves to an awful storm in April earlier that spring. So, here comes the storm of the century for us……we paced…..we prayed…..we were without power for 5 days….we had power poles knocked down in the pasture in front of our house and as far as we could see….poles everywhere! I nagged at Shane about putting our horses over in the calving barn….he was resistant, but I wouldn’t let up. Call it woman’s intuition or whatever, but I will forever be thankful that I listened to my inner self and demanded that those horses be put in. I helped him……it was just quite a chore because the snow and wind were horrific….and those horses weren’t thrilled about being taken into it in the mile trek over to the shed. It’s hard to think back about how awful the weather was……and how horrific the findings would be in just a few short days.

We had a generator to get us through the 5 days without power and when it came back on the images flooding Facebook and the news were absolutely horrific. That’s when the emotions hit me……I was sobbing…..I remember because the original sheet that I wrote the poem on had wet tear stains on it. That’s how emotional I was……and how emotional this poem is to me. We ended up not losing any cattle….this time around, but it struck a nerve in me that all ranchers can identify with. My tears weren’t for me or my family……they were for everyone/everything that the storm touched….people who suffered loss, the animals who lost their lives, the suffering that was endured, the harshness of Mother Nature….all of it. My tears were from the heart…..as were the words that became “The Storm Atlas”.

My poem was published in countless newspapers and magazines around the country. I was so touched that people could identify with it. I just had to get my feelings down on paper. It’s funny….even writing about it now makes my eyes well up with tears and I get a tingly feeling all over. I told my friend that I may cry while reading it in front of everyone……she said that was okay because most of the people in the audience will be crying too.

Here is my poem if you’d like to read it:

The Storm Atlas

Well, wish me luck tomorrow night…..it’s the first time I’ve ever read a poem out loud in front of an audience. Break a leg, right?! 🙂 ~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

Women’s Ranch Rodeo – Calling All Cowgirls!

What a day! I’ve been up to my eyeballs in donation request letters….award catalogs…..mailing lists….etc. What for? Well, it’s for our 2nd annual Cowgirl Swank Classic – Women’s Ranch Rodeo!

This is something that I am VERY passionate about! Ask me about it and it may be hours before I stop talking. 🙂  What is a ranch rodeo? Well, let me explain…..

I grew up in a “rodeo” family. This meant that my dad rode bucking horses, bulls, and he roped calves as well as steers. My mom ran barrels. In fact, she was so good at it that she qualified for the National Finals Rodeo in Oklahoma City in 1976. My folks broke and trained the majority of all our horses. I was very lucky to grow up in such a family! I grew up breakaway roping, goat tying, running poles and barrels….and even did a little bit of team roping. I wasn’t much of a team roper back when I was younger because I’m a south paw (left-handed). Heading a steer isn’t an option in team roping if you are left-handed. So, my only option was to rope right-handed or heel, which you can do left-handed. My dad didn’t think he wanted a daughter lacking a finger or two (fingers can be lost in the dallies when heeling so it’s not for the light-hearted). He set out to teach me to rope right-handed. I could swing, but throwing wasn’t as powerful as it was with my left-hand. So, I headed a few times, but that was the extent of my heading career.

While I was away working in the cities later on in my life, I heard mom and dad talk about entering a ranch rodeo. What the heck was that? I actually kind of laughed and thought it was silly. It wasn’t “real” rodeo after all. Well, fast forward about 15 years and I have an entirely different opinion. I will forget about my earlier misconception about ranch rodeo…..cross it off as ignorance, if you will. Ranch Rodeo is the real deal!! Each one can consist of very different events and then some ranch rodeos are sanctioned so the same events are expected at different locations. When we moved down here, Shane decided that he would get in our local ranch rodeo….the rest is history. We were hooked! I loved it…..but I hung back because it had been 20+ years since I had competed in the arena. Clearly, the guys have an advantage when it comes to pushing steers into a trailer, mugging one down, etc. I still longed to be part of the action.

Then my life changed…..I was hunting for something on the internet when a picture of the Women’s Ranch Rodeo Association flashed across my monitor. HOLY COW!!! What was this all about? I went to their site and read everything I possibly could. I was mesmerized…..there was an association fully dedicated to ranch rodeo and WOMEN….it was sanctioned with a world finals at the end of the year and everything!! Could it get any better?! I think not! My heart almost beat out of my chest!! 🙂

About a year went by of me watching the association. It became clear that one of their sanctioned rodeos had never been this far north (they are mostly in Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas)….it suddenly became my mission to bring it here. I was up for the challenge!

After a couple of visits on the phone with the WRRA’s special agent, Billie,  we were seriously talking about hosting one in Nebraska. As fate would have it, a gal I knew from town bumped into me and we started talking about it. She just happened to be on the fairboard in the nearby town. Before the end of the week, we were making plans for the 1st ever Women’s Ranch Rodeo in the panhandle of Nebraska! I couldn’t have been more excited!

We planned and our rodeo was set for the third weekend in July in Crawford. The weekend arrived…..and so did the rain…..and more rain!! I won’t go into details of the rodeo other than to say that it was truly a highlight in my life. I smiled the entire weekend….knowing that my dream had come true. After 22 years, I was back in the arena….I had recently turned 40 and I just knew that my best years were yet ahead of me….so far I’ve been right…..and I was happy knowing that I was responsible (with help from good friends) for bringing a women’s dedicated sport to our area! The crowd loved the action….I think the mud actually added to it. Since a drought had been upon us the years prior…everyone was happy to see some mud. My pants could have literally stood on their own at the end of each day….no, I’m not kidding! Our team photo of 48 gals (12 teams):

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The best part of the weekend? True sportsmanship and camaraderie.  Ladies who I have never met before felt like lifelong friends…..husbands and kids became instant friends…..and it was apparent that the women’s ranch rodeo was a big hit!! In fact, another team there went on to host their own weekend of rodeos in September after our event. A true success! Photos fro the weekend:

Trisha Hunter Push hardCS Mugging CS Branding

So, on to our 2nd annual event. It will be bigger and better this year. We are kicking both days off with an Open Stray Gathering (open to anyone). The Open Stray Gathering is an event where a set of 4 people goes after two steers horseback. They break off into pairs and pick their steer. Each steer must be headed and heeled with ropes….then the cowboys/cowgirls dismount and tie the steers up. They must stay tied for 6 seconds. This is fun watching! The winning time at the Cowgirl Swank Classic last year was 45 seconds. I’m happy to say that Shane and his team won it….I was so proud!

We are also adding a calcutta both days so that the spectators can partake a tad bit more. We are also going to be entertained by Rehme Sutton on Saturday evening. I can’t wait to hear her play. She is one of my favorite singers of all time!

What does a WRRA rodeo consist of? Well, a team is comprised of 4 women who then compete in each of 5 events: doctoring, trailer loading, calf branding, mugging/tie down, and sorting. I’m sure I will be posting about this again so I can go over each event in detail then. I mostly just wanted to tell you all what had consumed my day for the most part. If you live nearby, mark your calendars for our 2nd annual event….July 19th and 20th in Crawford, NE. You will be glad you did!

Oh yeah, I forgot to say….as far as me heading? I can do that in ranch rodeos because the steers don’t come out of a shoot. In fact, I’ve headed several steers thus far in ranch rodeos (I’ve also missed a few, but we won’t talk about that right now) ;)…..talk about putting a smile on my face. I’ve always been proud of being a lefty…..now I can prove what this old left hand can do! 🙂 ~Cheyenne