Meet the Member Colby Houlton
story by Lindsay Humphrey In Kiowa, Kansas, just about everything is as deeply rooted in family as it gets. That’s especially true for Colby Houlton […]
Story by Lindsay Humphrey
Wife, mother, daughter, roper, friend and rodeo coach. Those are just a few ways to pinpoint Shelbie Rose who grew up in Colorado but rodeoed in the Sunflower State and found her way to Oklahoma Panhandle State University in Goodwell. “I started roping when I was 9 and that was more fun than running barrels or tying goats for me,” she said. “My parents didn’t really rodeo, but they grew up around horses and then eventually got into team roping. They trained racehorses when I was growing up, so I was always around them.” After moving through the ranks of Little Britches and high school rodeo, Shelbie spent a year at Garden City Community College before finding her way to Goodwell.
“I rodeoed at Panhandle State four years and then graduated with a degree in animal science.” In 2015, Shelbie won the coveted Walt Garrison Award at the CNFR. “Shortly after graduating, I had the opportunity to come back as the women’s head coach for the team.” That was in 2016 and Shelbie’s made quick work of her time in a leadership role with the Aggies. She’s been named the Central Plains Region Rodeo Coach of the Year two years running. As the fall 2022 season kicks off, Shelbie begins her seventh season coaching alongside head rodeo coach, Robert Etbaur.
“This wasn’t something I ever thought I would do, but I’ve loved every minute of it. I’ve enjoyed getting to be friends with Robert and learning from him.” Even though the results inside the arena are important to both Robert and Shelbie, they’re forging deep bonds with these student athletes. “It’s cool to see someone come in as a freshman and have no idea what they want to do with their life and then a few years after graduating they’re being successful in whatever they chose. It’s a lot of fun to watch.”
Last March, the team lost two of their members in a car accident. “These kids become part of our family and you just don’t know what’s going to happen. Losing those kids was the hardest thing I’ve ever been through. You get attached to them pretty quickly.” It doesn’t take long for Shelbie to want more for each of her athletes. “The biggest challenge as a coach is that you only get so much time with them. In the beginning, four years seems like a long time, but it goes by way too fast.” Even though most of Shelbie’s time is accounted for on campus, she still makes sure she gets in the arena on a regular basis. She’s primarily a breakaway roper and reserves catching two horns as her hobby event.
“I don’t take team roping very seriously because breakaway is my favorite. I’ve invested most of my time and effort into it over the years. I like that it’s easy to feel successful and to find things to work on because in the end it’s all up to me and my horse.” Mounted on the type of horse that anybody can ride in quite literally every rodeo event, Shelbie has the very best partner for coaching. “I traded for Salty when she was 3 and she had not been touched. I started her and my plan was to ride her some and then sell her to make some money. She’s grown up and turned into a phenomenal horse.” Last season, Salty was hauled to every college rodeo and ridden by no less than three Panhandle competitors. “She’s been really handy to have around in my position. I know I always have a horse that someone can ride if they need to.” Coming by her name honestly, Salty can be a pill on the ground but she’s a sweetheart as soon as you swing a leg over her back.
Salty is Shelbie’s only mount, so she spends her time on the rodeo trail for more than just college rodeos. “I bought my KPRA card as a senior in high school (2011). When I first started, they never had any slack and now everywhere I go they have 40 breakaway ropers. It’s been fun to watch the association grow over the years.” Shelbie essentially grew up around the association, its members and stock contractors. “The stock contractors are big into youth rodeo which makes me proud to support them as much as I can. I appreciate that the KPRA tries to schedule their rodeos so you can hit more than one at a time.” Even though her husband, Kalen, doesn’t rodeo, he supports Shelbie when she’s practicing or on the road competing. And it’s fairly certain that their daughter, Macie, will follow in her mama’s footsteps one day.
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