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Meet the Member Alondra Castaneda
story by Lori O’Harver
For the first 13 years of her life, Alondra Castaneda rode stick horses, had names for every horse she saw pastured around South Texas, read all of the Black Stallion books and breathlessly knew there were horses in her future. At 13, she got her first horse and life really began.
Ten years later, she’d faithfully attended 4H, competed in every timed event ever invented, traded horses, started some, got herself onto a ranch rodeo team and did what every true addict has done since horses and man first started communicating; she wanted more.
“Six months ago, I saw a Texas Bronc Rider’s Association post on Facebook looking for women who wanted to ride bucking horses,” said Castaneda. “When I called Daryl McElroy he asked if I had any experience with ranch bronc riding. I told him no and he said ‘well, come on anyway.”
She showed up in Gatesville, set her saddle on a practice horse on Friday night then paid her fees for Saturday. She was there when the whistle blew.
“I didn’t remember much of the ride. It was all just like a roar in my mind, but I remember how I felt afterwards. I believed I could. I believed I could do it better and I wanted more,” Castaneda said.
About 5 months after that night, she was at her very first formal horseback riding lesson. It came at Smith ProRodeo’s annual Thanksgiving weekend bronc riding school. Among the students were those getting on for their first time and the cream of PRCA’s crop teaching and tuning up for the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo.
“It was eye opening, inspiring and scary,” said Castaneda. “I mean, I’d always felt like the Daryl and the TBRA contractors had hand picked some pretty solid, but easier horses for us girls. The Smith horses were stronger, mostly younger and rank. Being among the only women there in that kind of company was kind of intimidating at first, though we’re kind of used to that. We don’t have haters, necessarily, but we sure have doubters everywhere we go. It’s OK, we learned to ignore that, stay focused on our horses, our chute procedure and the real challenges in front of us. Doubters are just a good way to want to improve and prove that we’re here for the same reasons every bronc rider enters up.”
With the help of Bradley Harter, Cody and Heith DeMoss, Sterling Crawley and Stace Smith’s top horseman, Terry Autry, she’d nod for a handful of horses over the two-day school. She’d make 8 on a few and ate dirt off of several others. The one thing she did consistently is come back for more and she’ll continue to do that over the next year on TBRA and RIDE TV’s ladies ranch bronc riding tours.