Douglas – “Ride and rope to the best of your ability; no matter the luck of the draw, let the average take care of itself.”
Kassidy Scott, along with her two older sisters Kiley and Kelsey, know the words by heart. “My parents made copies of the poster to hang on each of our bedroom walls,” says Kassidy, who will be an eighth grader at Douglas Middle School this fall. Participating in the Wyoming Junior Rodeo Association, Kassidy has been the top goat tier for four years running. “I also breakaway, barrel race and pole bend and next year I’m going to start team roping,” she says.
Kiley just completed her freshman year at Casper College where she attends with a full ride scholarship as a member of the rodeo team. She runs barrels, ties goats, breakaways and this past season she hazed steers in the bulldogging. Studying ag business, she says she plans to return to the family’s Douglas ranch following graduation. “I love to ride colts,” she says. “This summer I’m starting colts for Dick Van Pelt’s horse sale.”
Kelsey, competing at this weekend’s Wyoming High School Rodeo Finals, just graduated from high school and is gunning for her fourth trip to the National High School Rodeo Finals. A three-time qualifier in the breakaway roping, Kelsey also qualified in the goat tying her freshman year. During her inaugural trip to the national finals she ended fifth in breakaway and placed in the second round of goats, earning her recognition as that year’s runner up rookie cowgirl.
A knee injury sustained in basketball took Kelsey out of the running in the goat tying last year, but this year she’s aiming to hit the national finals working at least two events. An all-around win would be fantastic, but Kelsey also has her eye on the breakaway roping saddle. “Go big or go home,” she laughs, noting that after qualifying for nationals in breakaway three times, she’s ready to ride the national trophy saddle for the winner’s lap at the National High School Rodeo Finals in Farmington, N.M. later this summer.
Come fall Kelsey will attend Chadron State College where she’ll rodeo and play basketball on a full ride scholarship. The college’s willingness to allow her involvement in both sports, she says, was key in her decision to attend the school.
“Our parents both rodeoed,” says Kiley of father Troy and mother Katie. “My mom high school rodeoed, went to the Little Britches rodeos, college rodeos and the all-girl rodeos.”
“Our dad didn’t start rodeoing until he was in college and then he pro-rodeoed,” says Kiley. Setting the arena record in steer wrestling at Cheyenne Frontier Days, Kiley says it was again broken the very same weekend.
It only seemed natural the couple’s children would carry on the family rodeo tradition. “We’ve been riding ever since we could sit on a horse,” says Kiley. “We’ve always enjoyed it and it’s a big part of our lives.” While riding came early, Kiley says they had to earn the right to rodeo.
“Before we could rope off of a horse,” says Kiley, “we had to rope the dummy 100 times in a row without missing. In the spring we’d rope, tag and doctor calves in the pasture. We had to do that before we could go to the rodeos.” Rodeoing also required their commitment to visit the practice pen regularly.
“We try to practice every night,” says Kelsey.
With just one year’s difference in age, Kelsey and Kiley are one another’s biggest rivals, yet strongest supporters. In 2002, when Kiley was the Wyoming High School Rodeo Champion Breakaway Roper, Kelsey was just one place and one point behind her. They also spend a lot of time encouraging Kassidy. As the older sisters rib her she asks, “You’re not going to put all this stuff in the paper are you?”
But Kiley admits, “The truth is, Kassidy just might be handier than either of us.”
“We push each other,” says Kiley. “If one of us ropes a fast calf the other one has to rope a calf faster.”
“If someone’s horse stops nice, the other one has to make their horse stop nicer,” says Kelsey.
Kassidy chimes in, “If one of us gets a kamikaze on a goat, the others have to do the same.” What’s a kamikaze? Flanking the goat and gathering the legs before it hits the ground, explains Kassidy with a smile.
In the practice pen and on the ranch is where the girls’ horses are built. “We make all our own,” says Kelsey of their horses.
“We buy ‘em young and start ‘em,” says Kiley.
“Using them on the ranch helps,” says Kelsey. “We use all of our horses in the pasture to gather cows and sheep and do ranch work.”
“You have to work hard,” says Kiley of rodeo. “That aspect of it has also made Kelsey a better basketball player.”
“I like how it makes you competitive,” says Kelsey. “You’re the only one to blame when something goes wrong.”
As far as their success in the arena, the girls simultaneously answer “family” when asked what makes it all work. “Our whole family is so supportive of us,” says Kiley. “We all live on the ranch together and we’re together all the time.” Their uncle and aunt, Blake and Darci Scott, along with their two children Raegan, a sophomore, and Riley, an eighth grader, are key to that, says Kiley. Both cousins are also formidable competitors in the rodeo arena.
Success comes at the cost of traveling a lot of miles but the travel comes with reward.
“I think we’ve been to every town in Wyoming at least once,” says Kelsey.
“Or at least through it,” adds Kiley.
As for Kelsey, she’d like to see Farmington, N.M. just one more time before heading off for her freshman year of college.
Jennifer Womack is managing editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.