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Meet the Member Becky Rus
story by Lindsay King
Living just 25 miles east of where she grew up in South Dakota, is self-made barrel racer Becky Rus. “I did not come from a rodeo family, not even a horse family. My dad bought $50 horses for my two younger sisters and I to get us started showing in 4-H and gymkhanas. We learned everything from scratch,” said the now semi-retired entrepreneur of Rock Valley, Iowa. As a student at Iowa State University, Becky found her way back to horses by way of the rodeo team. “There was only one calf roper there and me, we were the entire team at the time,” she chuckles. “We didn’t really go anywhere for rodeos. I was a pre-vet and ag business student at the time and loving horses got me into rodeo.”
Fresh out of college, Becky found herself managing a handful of veterinary clinics in northwest Iowa. “I started out in MSRA out of college and it just seemed like they were close enough that I did not have to travel too far. It was a nice step up and the people were really nice.” Rodeo and jackpots were and are Becky’s enjoyment for the weekends. Twenty-five years ago, Becky built a veterinary supply company (Livestock Concepts) from the ground up. “I had mostly just women working for me until I sold it four years ago.” Now Becky is an independent contractor building internet marketing campaigns part time. “I like to stay busy, so I work in the morning and then ride in the afternoon.”
Running the clover leaf on ex-race horses for the last few years, Becky is now retiring that fleet and starting to season her colts. “I am not looking forward to riding colts because of my age, but I am hoping to get back into the NSPRA this year and run them in it.” A couple years ago, the NSPRA adopted the 3D format for their barrel payout. “This gives someone like me on a colt the chance to pull a check instead of just donating my entry fees. I am just hoping to have something that is competitive so I can rodeo.”
After the purchase of a winter home in Arizona, Becky found her way to the NSPRA circuit thanks to Jill Hins. “I had never heard of it before, but there are a lot of senior pros out there so I run them in the winter. I just love the people involved with it.” It doesn’t matter what association Becky finds herself in, the people of rodeo are like none other. “They are all very genuine and hard working. It amazes me how competitive the senior pros get the older the competition is. It gives us all a chance to continue to rodeo and compete. The 60 and over events are tougher than the 40s it seems, but they are still not easy to compete against by any means.” Becky enjoys that nobody gets into a huge hurry and everyone always has time to help each other. “They welcome ‘newbies’ with open arms and I think it is all very enjoyable.”
It isn’t surprising that Becky married a cattleman, but it is interesting that he isn’t really a horse person. Married for the last 25 years, Marion (Becky’s husband) has always been in the feedlot and livestock auction businesses. “We feed about 3,500 head here at home and Marion owns two livestock auction barns in South Dakota. That is his thing, but horses definitely are not. We don’t even use horses on the feedlot.” It’s no matter for Becky though, she is used to making something out of nothing.