story by Lindsay Humphrey Deployments were never a good reason to keep a rope out of Val Baker’s hands during her time with the Air […]
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Meet the Member Brenda Howard
story by Lindsay Humphrey
“I have wanted to rodeo my entire life,” said Brenda Howard from Helena, Missouri. “I rode horses growing up, but nobody in my family ever rodeoed. My husband, Marty, and I started team roping just after we were married.” At the time, Brenda was in her 20s and continued honing her skills at team roping jackpots for the next 10 years before branching out to the rodeo world. “Jesse Marshall, who is now 87 and still rodeos in the NSPRA, got Marty calf roping in the 90s and was always talking about the senior pro rodeos. It was something we always wanted to do and then Glen Hollenbeck hosted one in Nebraska in 2017. That was the closest one they ever had to us, so we went, and we loved it.” The NSPRA is now Brenda and Marty’s main focus for rodeo.
Even though the NSPRA is chalked full of people who competed at the NFR and what Brenda would call a “somebody,” she’s never felt out of place. “I would say that Marty and I are the ‘never weres.’ All these successful people have always accepted us and made us feel like family.” This will be Brenda’s fifth year in the association and 2020 proved to be monumental for this budding barrel racer and breakaway roper. “Last year I won the all-around title, which was a bizarre time to win the all-around saddle but I’ll remember it forever.” Brenda has dreamt of winning an all-around saddle through rodeo for the last 30 years.
Built by Tres Rios, Brenda had her gelding measured by a local saddle maker so she could use her trophy saddle every day. “Even though I won a barrel saddle in 2019, I had them make me a combo saddle so I could rope in it. I’ve been waiting for this saddle for 30 years, so of course I’m going to use it instead of keep it in the house as a trophy.” Even though Brenda considers herself a late bloomer, she’s making a name for herself as both a competitor and a horsewoman. She attributes her success to learning how to make her own rodeo horses rather than buying them. “Training a rodeo horse takes years, so you have to like the horse you’re on because you have so much quality time together. You have to work at it every day, but it’s such a joyful journey.”
Her training philosophy isn’t built on the traditional foundation. It was Palm Sunday many years ago when Brenda concluded that Jesus must be the best horse trainer ever as he rode through a parade on an unbroke 2-year-old donkey. “Now for all my training questions I don’t seek out people, I ask for the Lord’s advice. It’s amazing how he brings the answers to me: from other trainers in passing, the internet, the TV, all over.” As Brenda gets rolling on a new season, she’s still riding the high of 2020. “I feel like I got the icing on the cake last year and now everything is just gravy. My goal for the year is to have clean barrel runs and catch my calves and just to do the best that I can with every run.”
Brenda works for her church each weekday morning and then rounds out her time as a real estate agent and farmer. “The morning job feeds me, and the afternoon job provides my fun money, but it’s super flexible. Marty works for a farmer and then we have some row crops and 40 head of cattle of our own. Our busy time is the spring and fall, so we can rodeo in the summer.” This flexibility of work schedules is what allows Brenda and Marty to travel further than they ever have in their lifetime. Being part of a national association ensures they have every opportunity to explore the western United States. “We love that we get to travel for the NSPRA and we’re at the same location for multiple rodeos. That affords us the time to get to know people on a social level rather than just from a competitive standpoint. It’s been quite an experience so far.”