From Endurance to Dressage
Rodeo Queen to Dressage Queen
This story has come up here and there over the years. I've never really told it start to finish, but in the mid-1980s, I was crowned Garberville Rodeo Queen.
I was horse crazy from birth. I couldn't get enough of it, so when I got my first horse, I wanted it all - shows, travel, parades, the works. Unfortunately, we didn't have a trailer, nor was my dad interested in schlepping me around the county doing any of those things.
I had thousands of acres at my disposal though, so I did everything you could do for free. We jumped logs, ditches, and anything else that would hold still. We swam the horses in the river and even skied behind them with one person riding and another grabbing on to the tail. We camped out in the hills with the horses tied to trees. I even rode my horses to school one day to use them as a demo for the junior high agriculture class.
I was always on the hunt for something else though. A friend of a friend of a friend once trailered us out to a popular trail head and let us ride for a few hours. Watching that trailer behind the truck was like winning the lottery. Another time, a friend of my dad's, who was just getting into endurance riding, took me along with him for a camping/trail riding weekend with a big group at a local ranch. I was definitely hooked on travel after that.
I don't remember how it happened, but the summer before high school, I heard about the Garberville Rodeo Queen contest. I had never aspired to pageants, but I did want to ride in a parade. I went to the meeting, signed up, and before he knew it, my dad was schlepping me around more than one county selling raffle tickets.
My dad drove me to the Laytonville rodeo where I sold tickets and he maybe had a beer or two. He drove me to a number of bars where he camped out for the afternoon as I manned the door catching patrons both coming and going. In the small town where I grew up, it wasn't unusual to have someone's kid hanging out at the pool table or jukebox.
My step-mother also helped out by picking me up in town on her way home from work. I'd ride the bus to Garberville after school and sell tickets all afternoon. Other rodeos in our area had "horsemanship" or "poise" portions of the contest, but my town was solely interested in ticket sales. I could sell tickets, and I did.
Being rodeo queen was the coolest thing that toothy 14 year-old had ever done. I led the rest of the girls down main street in the parade and then we drove out to the rodeo grounds for two days of as much fun as I could stand. We borrowed a trailer from a friend, and I slept under a tree at the rodeo grounds with Sunny tied to the trailer. We rode in the rodeo's Grand Entrance where I got to do a victory lap in front of the grandstands.
Eventually, I left home and went to college. I couldn't afford a horse back then; I could barely afford to feed myself. Within a year after graduating though, I had a horse and shortly after that, I was hitting the endurance trail with friends.
For the past 25 years I've taken my horses everywhere and done a lot of cool things - camping at the beach, endurance races, play days, poker rides, dressage shows, and even another school demonstration. Once you've been bitten by the horse bug, there's simply no cure. The only thing you can do is scratch the itch!
3/30/2017 05:37:34 am
Really cute, what a great backstory!
3/30/2017 06:41:08 am
Thanks! It was a lot of fun. :0)
3/30/2017 06:42:23 am
HAHAHA - I am just full of surprises. I think my dad was pretty surprised too as I am not much of a girlie girl. lol
3/30/2017 06:58:07 am
Thanks for sharing. I wish I had discovered horses 50 years before I did!
3/30/2017 07:21:02 am
I have to say, I am pretty thankful that I was in a position to have my ponies as young as I was. A lifetime of having horses teaches you a lot. :0)
3/30/2017 09:43:42 am
Not sure my big brown horse would like it either, but Speedy digs that kind of stuff. We have a huge Christmas light display here at our natural zoo that attracts LOTS of visitors. I brought a friend for a moonlight trail ride through the parking lot and entrance of the zoo, and Speedy just swaggered his way through the crowd. He LOVES attention. :0)
3/30/2017 09:48:56 am
Love it - great story and great pics!
3/30/2017 12:33:28 pm
Thanks, Laura. I have fond memories. :0)
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About the Writer and Rider
I am a lifelong rider.
I began endurance riding in 1996 where I ultimately completed five, one-day 100 mile races, the 200-mile Death Valley Encounter, and numerous other 50, 65, and 75 mile races. I began showing dressage in 2010.
Welcome to my dressage journey.
About Speedy G
Speedy went from endurance horse to dressage horse. After helping me earn a USDF Bronze medal in the summer of 2020, he is now semi-retired. Speedy is a 2004, 15'1 hand, purebred Arabian gelding. His Arabian Horse Registry name is G Ima Starr FA.
Izzy was started as a four-year old and then spent the next 18 months in pasture growing up. I bought him as a six-year old, and together, we are showing at the lower levels. He is a 2008, 16'3 hand warmblood gelding. His Rheinland Pfalz-saar International (RPSI) name is Imperioso.
National Rider Awards
State Rider Awards
State Horse Awards
CDS Sapphire Rider Award
Third Level: 63.514%
Third Level: 62.105%
2023 Show Season
(r) Ride-a-Test Clinic
2023 Show Schedule
2023 Completed …
2023 Qualifying Scores
Regional Adult Amateur Competition (RAAC)
Qualifying Training Level
3 Scores/2 Judges/60%: