Phillipsburg, Kan. – Two sisters will entertain as part of a trick riding trio at the Phillipsburg rodeo.
Shyla and Layna Navarre, ages fifteen and eleven, will join Dusta Kimzey O’Connell in the arena as the specialty act entertainment at Kansas Biggest Rodeo August 5-7.
The girls are the third generation in their family to trick ride. Their grandmother, Dollie Beutler Riddle, was a trick rider, and their mother, Melissa Riddle Navarre, trick rode as well, performing in Phillipsburg as well as other rodeos across the country.
The girls, residents of Weatherford, Okla., have been riding since they were toddling, and began trick riding by the time they were in school.
Shyla, who will be a high school freshman this fall, was interested in it because of her mom and grandma. “I guess mom inspired me to do it,” she said. “I wanted to be like my mom.”
Shyla will ride Nugget, an eight-year-old registered quarter horse pony. He’s taller than what she’s been riding, which is good, as Shyla has grown, too. “I’ve outgrown my other horses,” she said.
Layna has two horses: Max, a registered Welsh pony, and Thunder, who has been in the family the longest. Layna is also riding her mom’s trick riding horse, Charlie, who is faster than the other two and who she is growing into as her skills progress.
Both girls play basketball, like their mother did, and both girls show animals. Shyla is in FFA, and this past February, Layna showed her 4-H sheep at the county fair, winning first with her crossbred sheep named Doc.
Shyla, as the older girl, has more experience trick riding and loves the vaults. The vaults require a trick rider to jump off the horse, onto the ground, and back onto the horse, as it gallops around the arena. Working on Nugget, who is a faster horse than her previous one, requires quicker vaults. “I’ve never been on a horse that fast to do vaults,” she said. “So you really have to get out of the saddle and get back into it.”
Both girls will complement Dusta O’Connell as she trick rides along with them; Dusta grew up admiring and learning from Melissa, so to have Melissa’s daughters work with her completes the loop.
For years, as the family drove past the Phillipsburg rodeo arena on their way to other rodeos, the girls wished they could be hired for that rodeo.
“We really wanted to work that rodeo,” Layna said.
Shyla’s favorite part of it is “being on fast horses, and seeing the crowd and the bright lights.” Her sister concurs. “I like when we’re doing tricks, and we’re in the arena and the crowd cheers,” Layna said.
Shyla also cracks a bullwhip as part of her act and does some trick roping.
They have a little sister at home, Clara, who is six; their dad (and Melissa’s husband) is Corey Navarre.
The girls, with Dusta as part of Tricked Out Trick Riding, will be the specialty act during each night of Kansas Biggest Rodeo August 5-7. Rodeo performances start at 8 pm nightly. Tickets are on sale online at www.kansasbiggestrodeo.com and start at $16 for adults and $12 for children.
For more information, visit the website at KansasBiggestRodeo.com or call 785.543.2448.