story by Lindsay Humphrey You can’t keep a good man down. That’s what members of the KPRA, and anyone who knows him, will say about […]
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Meet the Committee Leeann Ridley
story by Lindsay Humphrey
Leeann Ridley gets pulled in a million different directions on any given day. Most weekends during the summer, she’s either headed towards Kansas or Oklahoma, whichever is hosting a KPRA event. “We live in the southeast corner of the state (Las Animas, Colorado), so we’re only 80 miles from Kanas or Oklahoma,” said the KPRA barrel racer. “A lot of the rodeos we can go to and then come home that same night.” Leeann is a self-proclaimed flat lander who doesn’t like driving in the mountains, so the KPRA is a perfect fit. “I like all the people that we rodeo with, it’s a very good-hearted, friendly group of people. I feel like everyone is cheering for everyone else. It’s very welcoming.”
Barrel racers will agree that the KPRA is great about securing quality ground for their competitors. And on top of that, many of the committees also rake between runs, which is just one more reason Leeann enjoys the association. It’s also convenient that her husband, Darren. team ropes in the KPRA. “I’m in a huge team roping family. My grandparents all roped and rode; my dad roped calves and steers in some amateur rodeos. I can rope and I do like breakaway roping, but I just really like that barrels is one-on-one with your horse.” On a horse for basically her entire life, Leeann started in 4-h and entered a few CJRA events before getting into high school rodeo. She competed in college for a short time but didn’t have a team at her school.
Coming into adulthood, Leeann took a short break from running barrels to have kids and find a groove in life. When Leeann married Darren, 8 years ago, she brought Denton, who’s now 17, and 13-year-old Roree. Darren has 26-year-old Paige who now lives in Oklahoma. Denton also enjoys team roping and gets to jackpot with Darren, but Roree accompanies Leeann when she heads to a barrel race. “My family is a huge aspect of what I do because we run a cattle ranch and I wouldn’t be able to go away if I didn’t have their support.” When Leeann was getting back into it, she sought the help of Jane Melby. “I bought a horse (Moolah), and he had all the potential in the world, but we were struggling. I didn’t have much confidence after being away from the sport for a while. She helped me figure things out and get with this horse. My husband is a huge component of this because he really pushes me.”
Somehow, Leeann always seems to end up with the horses who take a little more time to get figured out than most. “Moolah helped me fill my WPRA permit, and he gave me the passion back for it all. “My goal this year was to make the Mountain States Circuit Finals, but Moolah is sidelined with a strained suspensory ligament. I have a young one that I need to take to futurities and then we’re seasoning other horses while we wait for Moolah to come back.” One of those horses is Tug, who had to go back to the basics and learn how to use his body. “I’m very proud of him because I had to take the time and do it all over again.” Tug carried Leeann to her second KPRA finals last fall of the five years she’s been a member of the association.
Somehow Leeann manages to keep several horses legged up for the rodeo road while helping her kids get a barn full of show pigs ready to haul and keeping everything running on the family operation. Evidently Leeann found some extra time in her schedule four years ago when she took over managing the SECCC. “My friend (Tori Hawks) and I took over the organization that puts on weekly jackpots May through October.” Most jackpots are either in Las Animas or Lamar. Last month they began hosting weekly jackpots where saddles are awarded for each division in the open as well as the youth at the end of the year.