A cowboy way of life
WRITTEN BY Elaine Macdonald
This is the fourth year that the Professional Rodeo Cowboy Association, or PRCA, is coming to Lancaster. Three rodeo performances will take place at the Antelope Valley Fairgrounds on Friday and Saturday, Oct. 17 and 18.
Sandy Travis is a member of the Showdown Rodeo Committee that produces the California Circuit Finals Rodeo.
According to Travis, there are 12 circuits in the PRCA. The year-end and circuit-average winners from each circuit continue on to compete at the RAM National Circuit Finals Rodeo held in Kissimmee, Florida, in March 2015.
The event categories include bull riding, bareback riding, saddle bronc, tie-down roping, steer wrestling, heading, heeling, and Women’s Professional Rodeo Association barrel racing.
The rodeo this month brings the best cowboys and cowgirls in California to compete in Lancaster. It is their finals! They each have qualified in their event and are one of the top 12 in order to be invited to ride at the fairgrounds.
All of the contestants will perform Friday night and for two performances on Saturday. There will be an awards presentation Saturday night after the last rodeo performance.
Awards will be given to winners of the year and for the circuit final rodeo. The awards ceremony is open to the public and comes with their regular admission.
On the night of Oct. 17 the rodeo will highlight “Patriot Night.” People attending the rodeo are encouraged to wear red, white and blue in support of our military.
Travis is planning a special opening tribute to the armed forces. The following night on Oct. 18 Travis will be featured in the opening performance with her horse, Shining Hollywood. Their presentation will be “Ride for the Pink.”
Ride for the Pink
Travis is the founder of Ride for the Pink, a performance dedicated to build awareness and raise money for breast cancer research. Ride for the Pink is a specialized routine where Travis executes the ride on her horse without a bridle and in time to music.
“I have been riding bridleless performances for about the last 10 years,” Travis said. “Originally the rodeo cowboys were challenged during the national finals to wear pink shirts to help raise money for charity.
“My Ride for the Pink developed from this concept. I have a different style and added the bridleless ride performance to help bring the audience together.
“The performance is inspirational, fun and exciting. My intention is to create the mood for people to give from the heart for breast cancer research.”
Travis added that to ride bridleless you have to trust that the horse will accept cues. The horse needs to have the proper education and be broken in well. It needs to know leg cues, have good stops and turns, and most of all have respect for the rider.
Travis serves on the Showdown Rodeo Committee, a nonprofit organization. Travis often performs for smaller equestrian or charity events.
“Sometimes we help local Antelope Valley clinics and the American Cancer Society,” she said. “It is always humbling! I am so proud!
“My Ride for the Pink is a heartfelt opening performance for the rodeo. The committee is rewarded with standing ovations, and even more gratifying, tears of joy from those who have been personally affected by this tragic disease. Our ultimate goal is to raise awareness that might just save a life.”
There will be donation sites available at the fairgrounds, and for a donation, people can acquire a pink bandana in support of breast cancer awareness.
Travis lives on her 25-acre Tehachapi ranch with her family and six quarter horses.
“My family has been involved with horses my whole life,” she said. “Lady Horseman is an endearing term that my dad used to call me in the ’80s.
“He wanted me to be a lady, and the highest compliment in my profession is to be known as a horsemen. Today I am known as the Lady Horseman.
“Horses have helped raised my kids. My son ropes, and my daughter is very involved with all of our horses.
“My grandsons also ride horses. Caring for horses teaches youngsters responsibility. My significant other of 26 years, Barry Blagg, is a representative for RAM Rodeo, a big sponsor of the PRCA Rodeo. Horse shows and the horse industry have kept my family very busy.
“Top Time Jennie was my original quarter horse that I first started riding bridleless for the Pink. I have had Jennie since she was 5 years old. This year she is 23 and retired from performing on the road.
“She has been shown at the American Quarter Horse World in showmanship and trail and has won saddles in roping. We have won the versatility at the Grand National Cow Palace in San Francisco. Jennie has been a great all-around horse for me.
“Currently, Shining Hollywood, my palomino mare, is my present performance horse. Jennie is now the main ranch horse and helps out with riding lessons on the ranch.”
Travis shares her wealth of equine knowledge by teaching students who have their own horses or by providing a lesson horse. An evaluation is given first to see what the student is interested in doing with his or her horse.
“I work with horses that need additional training or just need a tuneup,” Travis said. “I start from the basics, depending on what the person needs.
“A student may want to be trained to ride in world-class shows or ride down the trail. I work with all ages.
“I started working with an older couple without a horse. We did basic ground work, how to care for a horse, including brushing, clean feet, saddle and basic care. I helped them choose their first horse. Now they are learning how to ride better and become more confident.
“If a student is interested in purchasing a horse, I can help match a horse according to the student’s capabilities. I recommend horses that are already educated for the novice rider. It is much easier to teach a person on an educated horse.”
For information about the PRCA rodeo at the Antelope Valley Fairgrounds, see Cafinalsrodeo.com. To donate to breast cancer awareness, contact Travis at firstname.lastname@example.org.