story by Ruth Nicolaus t took a letter, written by Caiden Milam to his parents, to convince them to let their son ride bulls. It […]
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Meet the Member Ashley Odenbach
story by Ruth Nicolaus
Ashley Odenbach is hoping a broken big toe won’t keep her out of the top of the barrel racing standings this spring.
The Nebraska High School Rodeo Association member broke her toe when, during team roping practice, she roped a steer. The horse stepped into the loop, tripped, fell on his left side, and rolled over her. The broken toe was her only injury. “It was a miracle,” she said. During surgery, the doctor put two pins in the toe, causing her to miss the last two weeks of the fall rodeo season. She was in fourth place before the accident, but slipped to ninth, and she hopes to regain those spots during the spring rodeos.
In addition to barrel racing, she competes in the team roping (as a header for Cole Dwyer), the pole bending, and the breakaway roping. She ropes off a thirteen-year-old bay horse named Deuce who she has ridden since eighth grade. He’s “super solid,” she said. “He works all the time. He has his quirks but he puts me in the spot where I need to throw every time. He can run one down, or if I need to throw quick, he can get out of the way, too.”
Her breakaway and pole horse is Charlie, an eighteen-year-old yellow horse. Charlie is a former barrel horse and one of the most solid horses Ashley rides. She learned her rodeo events on him.
Greta is her new barrel horse. Purchased from the Finney family in Ainsworth, Ashley has had a lot of success on Greta. The seven-year-old is “setting in the pen, getting fat and sassy,” she said. “She deserves a break. She worked pretty hard last fall.”
The cowgirl, who lives fifteen miles outside Taylor, Neb., is a senior at Burwell High School. She has a 3.9 grade point average and loves science classes. The toughest classes for her are history and government. She enjoys them, but the content “doesn’t stick in my mind like science does.”
She is involved in FFA, speech, and was a member of the One-Act plays for two years. She played volleyball her freshman year but chose to forgo other sports, to focus on rodeo. She is a member of the National Honor Society and the All-A Honor Roll. She also helps with the Burwell High School Rodeo Club, in securing donations, ordering prizes, and organizing volunteer help. She shows horses and her border collie in 4-H.
In the summers, she works for her parents on their ranch and backgrounding feedyard. She helps move cows to summer pasture, helps ship cattle, fix fence, fix tanks, brand, run the hay grinder, and in the hayfield, runs the rake. She “lifts weights” in the hayfield by walking alongside the pickup as she picks up small square bales and throws them on the flatbed.
Ashley’s mom makes some excellent meals, but her favorites are parmesan tilapia and strawberry-rhubarb pie. She loves chocolate milk and microwave popcorn with extra butter. Her favorite movies are westerns, including Hidalgo, and she also loves comedies, like Bridesmaids.
One of her favorite places to visit is Georgetown, Colo., in the winter. She and her family gather with her mom’s family, who lives in Denver, and sometimes go during Christmastime. The place is magical, she said, with snow on the mountains, the Christmas market, and all the history the place has. She remembers picnicking by the creek and the beautiful yellow aspen leaves in autumn.
This fall, Ashley will attend Laramie County Community College in Cheyenne, Wyo., where she will be on the rodeo team and major in equine training management. At the school, students are given the chance to work with a colt, putting six weeks’ worth of time on him. After college, she’d love to own a horse training business and continue to rodeo.
She has competed at the state finals each of the last three years, in the poles, breakaway and team roping.
She has an older sister, Kylee, who is a student at Chadron (Neb.) State College. She is the daughter of Chet and Carey Odenbach.