story by Lindsay Humphrey “I’m not much of a planner,” said Ryan Bestol of his storied rodeo career so far. “When I get something in […]
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Meet the Member Branda Marsh
story by Lindsay King
Down time at home isn’t exactly something Branda Marsh is used to, but the coronavirus sure gave her plenty of it. The Thedford, Nebraska, mother of two normally splits her time between family, training barrel horses, working for Thedford Public Schools, and massaging both people and horses as a licensed massage therapist. “This extra time off has been helpful for the two horses I plan to run this year. It’s given me more time to do some drills that make them better horses overall.” One of those drills is spending time with her mom on the family ranch where Branda and her older sister grew up on in the sandhills.
“We rode horses almost every day, and then I started rodeo when I was probably seven. Both of my parents did rodeo some when they were younger.” Branda’s dad bought her a trained barrel horse who she rode until just before her freshman year. “She got kicked in the throat and died. I went through all of my junior and 4-H rodeos on her, but after that I started training my own horses.” Before Branda headed off to Colby Community College she lost her good horse yet again. “Those times make it hard to keep going and push myself to be great. The hardest part about rodeo is losing great horses.”
Branda graduated with her associate of science degree while rodeoing for two years. In 1996 Branda became a licensed equine massage therapist and followed that up in 1998 when she became certified to work on people. “I decided I needed to be able to work on people so I could show them how it could help their equine athlete also.” Although Branda has an office in Thedford she works out of, she also has a table at home and in her trailer for her rodeo friends.
“I’m ready to get out on the rodeo trail and get to some jackpots. Both of my horses are going to be really great.” Branda has been running Elvis for three years but her 6-year-old mare is a newer mount. “I’ve really enjoyed getting to ranch on my horses more. And I’ve been riding a lot of outside horses. It makes me pay attention to the little things that I might be able to help get a horse to do if I tweak things a bit.” Riding those outside horses helps make Branda a better rider for her own horses. “The fulfillment that I get from training horses and making them great is an accomplishment that just keeps me growing inside.”
Although Branda is a full-time barrel racer now, her roots run deep in roping thanks to her ranch upbringing. “The first time I ever made the finals was actually in the breakaway roping. In high school I did cutting, barrels, poles, goats, breakaway and some team roping. I still rope out on the ranch, but I don’t do it competitively anymore.” It’s clear Branda found her calling in the clover leaf pattern. “One of my favorite accomplishments is that I trained the number five barrel horse at the 2015 NFR: JKR Assured Win ridden by Cassidy Kruse from Gillette, Wyoming.” Branda also trained two horses that made it to the jrNFR.
Branda’s own accomplishs are also something to write home about. In 2006 she was the Cornhusker Futurity Champion with JKR Assured Win and the pair was also the 2007 Cornhusker Derby Champions. Last year Branda rode her homegrown, trained and seasoned horse–Elvis–at both the NSRA and M-SRA finals after going to just 19 rodeos. “I tried to juggle the rodeos and jackpots where I could make the most money. I really enjoy being with my second family while competing in the NSRA. It’s a lot of fun.”