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 Gayle White
story by Lindsay King
Few rodeo competitors get the honor of holding gold card memberships in multiple professional and amateur associations, and even less get to rodeo in the state of Alaska. Gayle White, a Dickens, Nebraska, native has done both. Her career in rodeo came long after her love for horses was planted and blossomed. “When I was about 8 years old, barrel racing came to this area and I begged and begged to go. I started out in 4-H with a rodeo or two sprinkled in.” It wasn’t until about ten years after high school that Gayle got horses and started running barrels again. “I always liked rodeo and decided it was way more exciting than 4D barrel races, for me anyways.” When Gayle first got horses again, she was living in the state of Alaska.
“I rodeoed there for about five years. It is a very short season, it starts on Memorial Day and goes through Labor Day. There is usually snow on the ground by that time. It was a small group of people, but we had lots of fun.” Gayle holds many buckles and saddles marked with the Northern Lights Rodeo Association stamp. She was named the all-around cowgirl in 1983 after winning the goat tying. It’s probably the only time Gayle openly admits to ever competing in anything but barrel racing. Many might be surprised to find that traveling to rodeos in Alaska takes a lot more time and miles than most other amateur associations in the lower 48.
“I only tied goats to help support my barrel racing habit. I have always liked the speed, coordination and smoothness running barrels requires.” Gayle has been raising and training her own horses for about as long as she can remember. Although, she has passed off the first rides to someone else. “I had four horses that I took from halter breaking to being top contenders in the WPRA. I have two that I raised that I am running today.” She has had some tough luck with these colts in the last couple of years, but 2019 is bound to be a turning point for Gayle. In years past, she found herself at the Mountain State Circuit finals while living in Colorado. And she can’t even count the number of times she’s made an appearance at the NSRA and M-SRA finals.
“I was raised here and then left for 25 years. I finally came back in 1994. I have held my NSRA card ever since 1995. Everybody in the NSRA is so nice and it is just fun. You can always count on someone to help when you have a problem.” Her kids grew up in the association. Some of their fondest memories come from sitting in the stands while watching their mom run knowing that afterward they would be riding the carnival rides. Gayle jokes that it took some bribing to get them to wait for her run to be over. It’s her goal to make it back to the finals and hit as many Prairie Circuit rodeos as her schedule will allow in the coming months. Though there are some rodeos Gayle has her sights set on specifically. “I really like the rodeo in Burwell, Nebraska, because it is such a different format. Everyone goes into the arena and waits their turn to run in this huge space with a standard pattern. You need a horse that is really paying attention.” Gayle loves to run in the bigger set ups, this makes it easy to understand why she loves the rodeos at Cheyenne and Valentine. The small Rapid City arena is another favorite.
This real estate agent by day and barrel racer by weekend, credits her friends with keeping her lined out at the rodeos. She jokes that it can be hard for her to focus so she remembers where she is at and what she is doing, it also might be a big contributor to her success. Regardless, you will be hard-pressed to find Gayle doing anything but running a clover leaf pattern.