Riata Ranch performers bring mini-wild west show
St. Paul, Ore. (June 15, 2017) – When the St. Paul Rodeo kicks off next month, the Riata Ranch Cowboy Girls from Three Rivers, Calif. will be on hand to entertain.
The five women: executive director/general manager Jennifer Nicholson, Sarah Thompson, Bec Circosta, Spencer Rose, and Bailey Gable, will perform a mini wild-west show for fans during each performance of the rodeo.
Their fast-paced routine is glitzy and glamourous, and involves everything western: from the graceful yet dangerous art of trick riding (think gymnastics on horseback), to liberty horse work (training a horse to work on command, with no bridle, halter or bit), to trick roping (doing fancy tricks with ropes, like Will Rogers did) and whip cracking. There’s never a dull moment when the Riata cowgirls take the stage during the rodeo!
The Riata Ranch girls strive to keep their show high quality. “It’s a complete entertainment package,” Nicholson said. “There’s lots of energy and action to keep everybody entertained.”
The Riata Ranch, located near Sequoia National Park in central California, is a place where young people can learn horsemanship skills. They can come with no experience and learn the basics, or they can be experienced horse people who want to advance to the art of trick riding. Nicholson, a former trick rider herself, gives riding and trick riding lessons but emphasizes that the skills learned at Riata Ranch are more than horse skills. “The idea is to grow life skills, practice leadership, mentorship, education, community service and horsemanship.” The horses are a vehicle she uses to grow her students’ character.
Students come from across the world to attend classes at Riata Ranch, and usually stay for up to five years. They may travel home for several months at a time, but they usually return to Riata.
The five women who will perform in St. Paul come from a variety of places. Two of them: Thompson and Circosta are from Australia; Gable is from Colorado and Rose is a Californian.
The Riata Ranch Cowboy Girls have been entertaining rodeo fans since 1976, and they’ve been in front of some big audiences. They were selected to perform for Queen Elizabeth’s Jubilee in 2012, and six times they’ve been chosen to entertain at rodeo’s world championship, the National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas. They have worked rodeos across the nation and from coast to coast.
Their unusual name, “Cowboy Girls,” stems from the 1972 John Wayne movie, The Cowboys, in which a group of young boys steps up and becomes responsible in helping him trail cattle. Tom Maier (1928-2002), the founder of the Riata Ranch, wanted his students to have that sense of philosophy. Nicholson, who is a product of the Riata Ranch, shares that same philosophy with her students. “The moment you step on the property (at Riata Ranch), you take immediate responsibility for your participation in the program.”
The Riata Ranch Girls will entertain during each performance of the St. Paul Rodeo June 30-July 4. The rodeo starts each night at 7:30 pm with a 1:30 pm matinee on July 4. Fireworks follow each night of the rodeo. Rodeo tickets can be purchased online at StPaulRodeo.com. For more information, visit the website.