Six B.C. cowgirls are riding south next month for the first ever Art of the Cowgirl all girls ranch rodeo and Western trade show in Phoenix, AZ.
Racquel Russell, Ricky Seelhof, Keely Durrell, Taylor-Jane Gardner, Haley Rutherford and Karen Coldwell have garnered entry for two teams in the ranch rodeo at the inaugural event Feb. 8-10, which aims to celebrate, gather and connect women with horses and Western art.
Team one, called River Ranch, made up of Durrell, Russell, Rutherford and Coldwell, and team two, Woodjam Ranch, with Seelhof, Rutherford, Gardner and Russell taking the reins, will join 18 other teams to compete in events including: sort and doctor, branding, team roping and rein/fence work. Currently $13,000 added prize money is up for grabs.
“Honestly, it’s a dream come true for me,” Russell said, who was born and raised on a ranch at Riske Creek and now works at River Ranch.
“It’s the first of its kind. A ranch rodeo and a trade show with all girls, and we’re all so excited and can hardly wait.”
Russell has spent time working on several ranches including Douglas Lake Ranch, Gang Ranch and Alkali Lake Ranch and has been competing in ranch rodeo for the past 20 years.
Ricky, along with her husband, Chad and three children, own and operate the Woodjam Ranch at Black Creek, while Keely was born and raised at Riske Creek.
The opportunity presented itself for the two teams to attend the Art of the Cowgirl while attending a top hand event in Falkland this past summer. Gord Collier, a well-known ranch rodeo announcer in B.C., approached Russell and asked if he were to put together a team capable of competing at a top level if we would be interested.
“Kind of the cool thing about this event is it’s not the usual ranch rodeo events,” Russell said. “It’s great we got in but it’s also kind of scary. There will be a lot of handy girls to compete against.
“They have some huge sponsors down there. It’s intimidating, yes, but the people we have I’m very confident in. We have some very handy girls on our team so we’ve just got to go there and do our absolute best and hopefully we can do well.”
The ranch rodeo at the Art of the Cowgirl will take place at South Buckeye Equestrian Centre on day one, before the top four teams will come back to compete in the final day at Corona Ranch.
Durrell, along with Rutherford and Coldwell, will be driving to Arizona for the event as Durrell has a horse entered in the elite ranch horse sale at the festival, while Gardner is currently staying two hours outside of Phoenix.
Seelhof and Russell, meanwhile, will be flying to Arizona roughly a week prior to the competition to get used to horses they’ll be borrowing for the ranch rodeo.
“It’s just going to be so much fun,” Russell said.
“I’ve been doing this close to 20 years now, we’ve been to ranch rodeos in B.C. and Alberta, but this is the farthest we’ve gone, about 3,000 kilometres.”
Contact Russell at 250-267-5392 or Coldwell at 250-378-1578 for sponsorship.
“Any help would be greatly appreciated,” Russell said.
Team member bios are as follows:
Ricky was born and raised in Saskatchewan on a farm. She grew up doing 4-H and rodeoing, and starting horses.
She moved to B.C. where she met her husband where they now own and operate a 500-cow/calf ranch together with their three children near Williams Lake.
Ricky works full time at the ranch while helping out friends when needed. Ricky is part of the Young Cattlemen’s Council for Canada and is the chair of public affairs and education committee for the BC Cattlemen’s Association.
Taylor-Jane was raised on Douglas Lake Ranch in Merritt, which her dad has been the manager of for nearly 40 years. Raised on the ranch, Taylor-Jane was blessed with learning from some incredible cattle and horsemen within the industry and said that knowledge has been something she’s carried with her wherever she’s gone and worked, as well as carried into the competition arena.
Gardner’s current main direction is raising and training performance horses for barrel racing and team roping, but has always taken any opportunity presented to be able to go home to cowboy or help friends out on their ranches.
Racquel was born and raised on a ranch west of Williams Lake. She grew up loving the Western lifestyle and working with her dad on the ranch. She then met her husband, Ed, and continued to work on several ranches including Douglas Lake Ranch, Gang Ranch and Alkali Lake Ranch, before settling on the River Ranch. Racquel and Ed now have two boys, Kagen and Denten, and are currently the cow herd managers of the ranch.
Keely was born and raised on her family’s ranch in Riske Creek. She grew up working her family’s cow/calf operation and helping out with ranching duties. She started training colts, rodeoing and working community pastures from a young age and continues to live the Western lifestyle today.
Keely and her husband recently bought some acreage outside Williams Lake where they continue to ranch and train colts with their daughter, Isabella.
Haley was born and raised in OK Falls, B.C. She grew up involved with horses in the jumping/English world. Haley would visit her family’s ranch in Merritt often and that is where her love of Western living started. After pursuing a degree in science, she moved back to Merritt where she became involved with her family’s ranch. Soon after she started her own herd and continued to ranch alongside her mom, aunt and uncle. Recently, Haley has become involved in working cow horse/reining horses and has been to some shows expanding her horsemanship skills.
Karen was born in Ashcroft and shortly after moved to Merritt. She grew up riding horses and working the ranch with her dad, mom and two siblings.
She enjoyed the Western lifestyle from a very young age and continues to do so today. Her family eventually moved to the Garthwaite’s where her passion for roping would begin. Karen was introduced to rodeo and the love of her sport grew. After years of working as a special education teacher her passion for ranching grew and she returned to the ranching world. Karen currently lives in Kamloops where she is employed by Frolek Cattle Company and works on the ranch as a cowboy alongside four other men.