Karen Vold calls trick riding the desire of her heart. But the sport of daredevil skills and showmanship on horseback was even more than that […]
6 over 60 will feature women in the rodeo industry that paved the way for the next generation to step into the sport and contribute to it’s growth. Each of the six will receive a concho scarf slide created exclusively for this project by Montana Silversmiths. This is the first annual recognition of 6 over 60. If you have any suggestions for nominees, please send them to email@example.com
Pam Minick is a pioneer for women reporting in rodeo—and sports as a whole. The now 68-year-old’s classic girlish love for horses set her boots down a trail to covering the largest rodeos in the country. She developed award-winning marketing skills, made history herself winning WPRA world championships, and even acted on the silver screen. And the rodeo arena was her classroom.
“I don’t know what this girl would look like without the world of rodeo,” says Pam. “Rodeo, especially being Miss Rodeo America, shaped my entire life.” Prior to winning Miss Rodeo America in 1973—one of the youngest to do so at age 19—Pam competed in 4-H, Little Britches, and high school rodeos in her home state of Nevada. She and her younger sister, Lynn, pioneered the love of horses in their family, and their parents, Ralph and Edith Martin, purchased a pair of palominos for the girls when Pam was 9. “We joined 4-H because we knew nothing about horses other than we loved them. That began my foundation for riding and horsemanship,” says Pam, who is an active 4-H volunteer to this day.
On a dare, Pam entered a rodeo queen competition in high school. She won Miss Rodeo Nevada in 1972, and just months later, she was crowned Miss Rodeo America 1973. “You’re really a marketing person for the sport of rodeo. It taught me that in any given town on any given day, if you pitch a story, there’s a chance it will be told by the media. That helped me in marketing later on—I spent over 30 years as vice president of marketing at Billy Bob’s Texas. Then there’s the foundation of independence to be able to figure things out. It’s not uncommon to find yourself with a canceled flight, or trying to get to a location that’s very obscure. During one stretch, I wasn’t home for 30 days in a row. I had to make sure my outfits were well planned, and I had to find a way to get them laundered.”
By the end of her Miss Rodeo America reign, Pam had been interviewed hundreds of times, ridden a mechanical bull on The Tonight Show starring Johnny Carson, and even undertook a two-week tour for her sponsor Parkay, cooking with their squeeze liquid margarine. She got her timer’s card and timed rodeos, helped the stock contractors with their opening ceremonies, and was active in any area of the event that needed an extra hand. She made scores of friends, and when the PRCA began televising their rodeos in earnest in 1976, Pam was an obvious choice for handling the commentary and reporting. Her first television broadcast as a commentator was the Wrigley’s Big Red Rodeo with Donny Gay and Jim Shoulders in 1976. “My mother was a very positive person, and she wouldn’t let us say the word ‘can’t’,” Pam recalls. “If you can dream it, you can do it. So when the PRCA called and said would you do the commentary on this rodeo, I said yes and didn’t even think about the millions of people who would be watching.” There were only four television networks at the time, and the PRCA televised eight rodeos a year in 1978 and 1979, which Pam covered, followed by a dozen rodeos a year with ESPN starting in 1980.
She commentated on the live broadcast of the National Finals Rodeo from 1978 on, and conducted numerous interviews. Pam also co-announced the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo in 1994, the first woman to do so. Her firsthand knowledge of many of the events helped her with both commentating and interviewing. “I found that people like to talk about their performance, and if you pick a certain part of a ride and have a competitor expand on it for you, they’ll be ready to tell you. The challenge back then was the athletes hadn’t seen anybody be interviewed and cowboys at that time were shy by nature. But most competitors knew me after my year of travel as Miss Rodeo America, so being a familiar face was a leg up, and asking the right questions. You have to ask a question that’s thought provoking.”
One interview in particular stands out to Pam from the 1995 PBR World Finals when bull Bodacious broke Tuff Hedeman’s face in the short round. Pam was a sideline reporter at the event and her director sent her to the locker room to report on Tuff’s condition. “I went in there, and his face was completely rearranged. He looked at me and said, ‘Tell my wife I’m okay.’ I still remember that because he was more concerned about his wife, who was sitting in the stands watching. The fact that he trusted me to deliver that message was pretty cool too.”
Pam’s broadcasting and marketing skills, and their impact on the world of rodeo, have earned her inductions into numerous halls of fame, including The National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame, as well as the Tad Lucas Memorial Award. She currently hosts two shows on RFD-TV and covers the Fort Worth Stock Show for The Cowboy Channel. The American Rancher was one of the first series on RFD-TV in 2004, while Gentle Giants, which Pam produces and hosts, became the top equine show on RFD-TV when it started in 2012.
Pam continued to rope and run barrels following her reign as Miss Rodeo America, and recently found another passion in showing. She competes in the ranch riding and versatility ranch horse events, and won Reserve World Champion at the AQHA World Show in 2020 on her horse “Smart Smartie”. She and her husband of nearly 40 years, Billy Minick, now make their home in Argyle, Texas. “I’ve had a glorious life. I just never said no to an opportunity,” Pam concludes. “If somebody said can you do it, I said yes and figured out a way to do it. And I still say yes!”
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