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Meet the Member Dani Fladeland
story by Lily Weinacht
“In pole bending, getting with the horse and having a nice clean run is a really good feeling,” says Dani Fladeland. The 14-year-old from Minot, North Dakota, did just that this March when she won the first KK Run for Vegas pole bending qualifier while vacationing with her family in Buckeye, Arizona. She ran a 20.544 astride Sam, a 9-year-old gelding she test rode in South Dakota last fall. “He wasn’t quite finished in the pole bending, so his owner at the time, Kristie Thorstenson, took him down to Arizona to finish him,” Dani explains. She picked up Sam and competed in a junior rodeo before making her second competitive run on him at the Helzapoppin For Vegas Race. “I was very impressed and surprised,” says Dani of their run. She also ran barrels on Sam and placed fourth in the seniors with a 17.513. “I watched all the open runs and most everything there. It was fun having a good run, and being able to go somewhere at such a young age and have an opportunity like that.”
Dani started competing in rodeos when she was 5, following after her older sisters, Fallon and Nicole. “I really enjoy it, and I like to see the progress that all my horses make, and myself.” Dani also competes in the North Dakota Junior High Rodeo Association, Rough Riders Association, and hopes to join the North Dakota Rodeo Association this year. She was the state champion breakaway roper in the NDJHRA in 2018, and finished eighth in the nation in pole bending at the 2018 NJHFR. “I think poles and breakaway are my favorites. Breakaway is a lot on your part—there’s more on you than the horse,” explains Dani. She also competes in team roping as a header, and ribbon roping.
Practice is a family affair, and Dani works on her events with the help of her parents, Dan and Ginger Fladeland, and her sisters when they come out to visit. “I look up to my parents and sisters, and Lari Dee Guy, Hailey Kinsel, and Andy Shelkey, my neighbor. I go to Lari Dee every year for a roping clinic and she’s helped me a lot on horsemanship and learning how to correct my swing. I’ve gone to her for three years and I’ve improved a lot,” says Dani. She’d also love to spend a day riding with Hailey Kinsel. “She just has a level head, and she’s really young for her accomplishments and she rides her horses really well.”
Along with doing slow work with Sam over the summer and keeping him sharp for the Junior World Finals, Dani rides her other pole bending horse, Tommy, and rides Badger in the goat tying, Punch in the breakaway roping, and Bar in the team roping. “I do breakaway every day, and I switch on and off with barrels and poles.”
An eighth-grade student at Velva Public School, Dani enjoys learning Algebra in math, and recently finished reading The Diary of Anne Frank in English. Additionally, she played basketball on her school’s team this winter, and likes to spend her free time traveling with her family. “I would like to go down to Arizona every year, and my favorite place is probably Buckeye,” says Dani. “I’d like to do pro rodeos and probably college rodeo, and I’d like to make it to the NFR.”