Meet the Member Ryan Bestol
story by Lindsay Humphrey “I’m not much of a planner,” said Ryan Bestol of his storied rodeo career so far. “When I get something in […]
story by Lily Weinacht
Amanda Fletcher is a wife, mother of four, and breakaway roper in the NSRA. She shifts from homeschooling her kids at the kitchen table to working cattle in a matter of minutes, most at home in the saddle with her family at her side.
The 37 year old from Arnold, Neb., grew up on horseback, helping her uncle and grandpa run their ranch. Both had roped calves, and Amanda’s turn to back into the roping box came in her mid 20s when she married her husband, Michael Fletcher. He’s team roped and ridden saddle broncs in the PRCA, and qualified for the NSRA and M-SRA finals. “I never was that interested in barrels growing up, but if I went to a rodeo, I thought the breakaway roping looked really exciting,” says Amanda. “When I married Michael, he had the patience to teach me. At the time, we didn’t have a finished rope horse, but I kept going on the horse I’d started on, Tom, and we taught each other. It was cool to start out that way.”
Since joining the NSRA nearly ten years ago, Amanda competes primarily in the breakaway roping, though she’s recently added barrel racing and team roping to her list of events. She and Michael entered the mixed team roping for the first time this year – Amanda heading and Michael heeling. “To us, rodeo is a family thing, and we absolutely love to be on our horses and be around cattle.”
When Amanda entered her first rodeo, her daughters, Lillian (11) and Sydney (ten), were just starting to ride. Lillian is joining the NJHSRA this fall, and both she and Sydney and their sister, Jimi (seven), have competed in junior rodeos for several years. Jeb (20 months), is the family’s little cowboy. “He wears his dad’s hat everywhere and looks just like Michael,” says Amanda. “All the kids love to ride. Until last year, we didn’t have our arena finished, so we’d haul the kids and horses to a friend’s house to practice. Now we can practice in the mornings or evening, and Michael is really good about making sure I get a chance to practice. The girls have started roping off Tom and our mare Jezebel, and they all like to run the chutes. Both our parents live close by, and they watch the kids when they don’t come with us to the rodeos. We’ve been pretty blessed to have friends and family that hold onto the baby while I make a run!”
Amanda ropes on Jezebel, while Michael, who trains their horses, hopes to transition from training outside colts to riding and finishing more rope horses for the family to compete on. “He does a really good job with young horses, and he also shoes horses and works in our leather shop. He makes custom saddles, tack, and does boot repair. I fill in where he needs help, and our girls love helping too.” The Fletchers also run cattle, both on their place outside of Arnold, Neb., and on the ranch they’ve leased the last 12 years. “We’re either roping or working!” says Amanda. “We’re also involved with our church, and Michael and I are the youth group leaders for the junior high and high school kids. They’re a lot of fun to work with.”
While Amanda and Michael have gone to watch the NSRA finals, it’s one of Amanda’s goals to qualify for them in the breakaway roping. “It’s pretty fun to have our girls breakaway roping now – on some nights they rope better than me, so I have the goal of keeping up with them!” she adds. “A favorite Bible verse of mine is Colossians 3:23, ‘Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters.’ Michael and I would like to teach our kids that, and be a good example for them.”
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