story by Lillian Landreth Thayne Elshere represented South Dakota and his family’s favorite event of saddle bronc riding at the 2022 NHSFR this summer, where […]
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Meet the Member Isabel Risse
Story By Lillian Landreth
Isabel Risse stepped off her horse Princess and flanked her goat, tying her way to third place in the nation at the 2022 NHSFR in Gillette, Wyoming. The 18-year-old from Martin, South Dakota, says it was the first time she can remember being so nervous about a goat tying run. She had a solid run in the first go with an 8.25, but it didn’t occur to her she could make it back to the short go until she put together another good run of 8.29, landing her 20th after the second go. “After that, I went back to the camper and started getting my mind ready for Saturday night. My dad told me it was just another goat at the end of the arena and to just go make another smooth run. It was a real rush being the sixth one out that night. I ended up way higher in the average than I expected to, and it was bittersweet since that was the last run I got to do on that horse.”
The palomino mare, Princess, is Isabel’s sister’s horse, and headed back to Stephenville, Texas, for college rodeo at Tarleton State University. Isabel is the youngest of eight children, and her sister Mary is one of her role models. “Mary is always giving me tips on how to be faster, and of course, letting me ride her horse this year,” says Isabel. “My mom and dad (Joan and Rocky) are always out in the arena with me pushing cattle and holding goats, and my Grandpa Art always calls to check on how I’m doing and gives me tips, especially in the breakaway roping. He comes to the rodeos close to home. And my Aunt Tracee comes to every rodeo and always knows how all the results end up.”
Rodeo practice is a family-wide event four or five nights a week in the summer. Except for when Mary is in college, all of Isabel’s siblings live within 90 miles of each other. “We have an arena at the house, where we usually practice, and my oldest sister and brother have kids, so they come down to rope and practice too. My grandpa never misses a practice, either.” Family friend Mary Kay Sell contributes to their practice opportunities as well, supplying the Risse family with goats to break in and tie in preparation for the high school rodeos she puts on.
Isabel also competed in the SDHSRA in breakaway roping and team roping, but breakaway roping and goat tying are firm favorites. “Goats was something I always loved to do when I was little. Every night here in the backyard we would stake a goat and start tying. I started breakaway roping off a horse when I was 13. It was something my dad and his siblings were really good at and I wanted to be good at it too.” Isabel breakaway ropes off of Denny, a horse her family trained, and from now on she’ll tie goats off of Blue, Denny’s half-brother.
Isabel graduated from Bennet County High School, and she’s attending Black Hills State University this fall on the Floyd Scholarship, a full-ride rodeo scholarship. She’ll compete in goats and breakaway, while majoring in biology with a minor in chemistry. “My end goal is to be a nurse anesthetist,” says Isabel, who is moving into her dorm a week early so she won’t miss the 4-H rodeo state finals. Additionally, she helps her family run their cattle ranch and annual fall sale, and enjoys beading belts in her free time.
“My next goal is to the make the CNFR in both my events this year, and I’d like to start entering the pro rodeos in breakaway roping in a few years. My family really motivates me to get better and keep working toward my goals, and shows me that I can compete with the best, especially after the Finals. Our family wouldn’t be where we are without the sport of rodeo, and it’s taught me so much.”