story by Hannah Crandall Now a rodeo judge from Tierra Amarilla, New Mexico, Shane Thurston has been going to rodeos since he was two-years-old. Shane’s […]
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Meet the Member Anita Cruse
story by Lindsay Humphrey
“I like the super slow looking runs because they aren’t wasting motion,” said Anita Cruse who still considers herself a student of the event and probably always will. “I like to study other disciplines that translate to barrel racing. I just enjoy the horsemanship aspect of the event.” This Durango, Colorado, barrel racer always jokes with people that she loves running the clover leaf pattern simply because of her need for speed. Her interest obviously runs much deeper than that. “I got my first horse when I was 6, and I’ve been barrel racing since I was 7. I’ve always wanted to get into breakaway and team roping, but I don’t really have the facilities. I can rope the dummy though.”
Although Anita always had something to ride growing up, it was never on something she considered finished. “I got what I called the sale barn special, which basically translated to whatever horse was least likely to kill me.” These were the horses that fostered a deep appreciation for a rock-solid foundation in every horse that leaves Anita’s barn. “I like to get horses as colts, and I have a good colt starter here that I like to use. And then I just train them myself. I like to know where a horse is coming from and what they’ve been through.”
Before COVID-19 happened, Anita’s rodeo season was shaping up to feature her older, almost finished mount. Now it looks like she won’t see that accomplishment until late fall. “All the arenas are closed, so I’ve been trail riding and loping circles in the dry lot. I don’t have an arena, so I have to haul somewhere to really work on the pattern. The ground at home is just too hard.” Anita estimates that she’s lost almost three months of work on both her 7- and 4-year old horses. “I’ve just been doing what I can to make sure they handle like I want, so when I get on the barrels again, they work well.” Not one to put a timeline on a horse, Anita isn’t worried if it takes longer than most to be competitive.
“I’ve only had three horses that I was fairly competitive on myself. I typically sell them when they are basically finished.” Thanks to Anita’s job as a dispatcher at a coal mine, she hasn’t felt the economic effects of the recent pandemic like many other Americans have. She typically works the graveyard shift. Her career does allow her the freedom to rodeo in New Mexico while jotting down ideas for writing a novel. Anita attended Fort Lewis College where she majored in English with a writing option and found her second passion in life. “I’ve had one article published while at school but I’ve actually been published a total of 8 times – poetry, short fiction, and a memoir. I am hoping to publish something else someday.”
To date, running at the NMRA finals in 2017 was a big accomplishment for Anita. “It might sound silly, but after having horses for so long that were in training or injured, it was a big deal for me to run at the NMRA finals. I’ve wanted to run there since I was a kid.” Although Anita hasn’t seen her own name in lights when it comes to barrel racing, she’s gotten plenty of horses there. “I trained a mare a few years ago that won the Indian National Finals in the junior barrels. I broke her and did all the training on her. As a trainer, that was a big deal for me.” Anita lives and breathes by the motto: you are only as good as the horse you are on. They are a direct reflection of yourself and your skills.