Meet the Cowgirls: Duke
Q: Were you involved in rodeo before competing in the bronc riding, if so what events did you do and do you still compete in them?
A: Before pursuing bronc riding I tried out several different events in rodeo. As a kid I did the calf scrambles, eventually worked up to playing around with barrel racing. A friend of mine was into rodeo queen pageants, so I went down that road for awhile, wearing the crown and carrying the title of Miss. Fort Worth Stockyards Championship Rodeo. Shortly after my reign as Queen I joined the All American Cowgirl Chicks trick riding and drill team and toured with them for awhile.
It was then that I decided to chase my passion for roughstock riding. I got on a few broncs and got hurt really bad a few times. I had always wanted to try riding bulls so I switched over to bull riding. I had entertained the thought of trying broncs again, but always was blinded by the next bull riding! When I was invited to the TBRA Finals in 2016 to compete in the Ladies Ranch Bronc Riding, Little Joe (our son) was still small and I didn't have any gear together so I thought "well, maybe next year". Next year rolled around and I got a message about this tour, I thought "why not, may as well give the broncs another go!" and here I am! I still compete in bull riding. Joe and I raise bucking bulls so I stay active in rodeo even when I'm not competing.
Q: Tell us about yourself and what led to you to try out riding broncs competitively?
A: Ever since I was a little girl (I'm sure my folks can vouch for this) I've always wanted to do something different than everyone else, I wanted to be somebody. I've always been tough and took on challenges that seemed larger than life. The word "Courage" has always been a special thing to me, I've stood on it in many aspects of my life. The Bible talks about Courage a lot, throughout a lot of my trials in life, Courage has made me stand up against the odds and face my fears with a smile. After a few really bad injuries with bronc riding, I guess I just wanted to prove to myself after having Little Joe that “I can.” I CAN ride broncs, I CAN follow my dreams, I CAN be somebody! My goal has been to be a handy all-around roughstock woman, but you can't be handy at all the roughstock events if you don't ride broncs!
Q: How do you prepare yourself physically and mentally before getting on the bronc?
A: Physically, I like to work out, lift weights, ride horses and cowboy. I just don't seem to find much time for those things at this point in Little Joe's life and I hope to be back at it again soon!
Mentally is where I end up hurting myself and my riding. After the draw I like to go look over my bronc and size 'em up. I go over every aspect of the ride, on that horse, in my head. I focus on the ride to come. Every jump, kick, duck, dive, all of it. I just tell myself "don't get bucked off, it's a long walk back home and there are sharp rocks, cactus and rattlesnakes down there!" It works most of the time anyway. Before I get on, Joe says a prayer with me for safety and a good ride, as I know other friends and family do as well. The other ladies are always supportive and are ready to give you that last boost of confidence before you nod your head.
Q: What would you tell women and girls who also want to do things other than the mainstream events such as what you’re doing?
A: I'd tell them to find their passion, make it their dream, chase that sucker down and make that dream a reality! Always remember, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." (Philippians 4:13). No bronc, bull, or any other thing on this planet is too big or bad for God to help you conquer. Last but not least, watch how you present yourself and how you handle disappointments and defeat, there is always someone watching to see what you are going to do and how you are going to handle it. The future of your sport is watching you, even when you think they aren't. Try to set a good example, the world needs more of those nowadays.
Q: Tell us about one of your best rides or most memorable moments in bronc riding competition.
A: I would have to say my most memorable and proudest moments was my ride at Mexia this year. I was in the running to win the buckle series. All of the other girls had ridden, so I knew I needed to score high to bump the leader out of the top spot. When I heard the announcer call out my 1st place score it was by far one of my proudest moments as a bronc rider. I ended up not taking the buckle home, but it is still the highlight of my bronc riding career so far.
Q: What was the best career advice you have ever received?
A: That's a tough one, I guess I would have to say that the best career advice I have been given was to not listen to the negative things that people say, keep your eye on the prize and keep on keepin’ on. Of course, with God, all things are possible is encouraging and important to remember as well.
Q: What has been the biggest challenge of being a bronc rider?
A: My biggest challenge is winning the mental battle, roughstock is mostly a mental thing. Winning that mental battle can be a tough one sometimes!
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Photos provided by Duke Largo.