Meet the Member Ashley Smith & Charles Daniels
Story by Heidi Geesen The 2022 Colorado Junior Rodeo Association Senior Girls Horse of the Year, has a story that is very unique. It is […]
This past year has proven to be a very busy, yet very successful year in the arena for 16-year- old Kelly Valdez. Competing at the CJRA finals in August 2014, she was named Champion Sr. Pole Bender and placed in the top 10 in barrels, breakaway, and mixed team roping as a header for partner Jase Staudt, landing her 4th in the year end Senior girls All Around. “I really enjoy the CJRA rodeos. They are fun, they pay good and have awesome prizes,” stated Kelly.
Kelly likes all the events, but running barrels is her favorite. Instead of playing basketball for Swink H.S this past fall, Kelly competed at the Diamonds & Dirt Youth Classic, where she placed first in the 2D, and at the Barrel Futurities of America. “I learned so much at these events and I want to focus more of my time on barrel futurities. I have a couple of nice young horses that I would like to get ready for some futurities. I’ve gotten help from Troy and Colette Flaharty and Jane and Ryan Melby; what I’ve learned from them along with their continued help will help me develop these young horses.”
Kelly attributes her success in the rodeo arena to her horses. Her pole horse was started and shown by her mom as a cow horse, when he was 5 Kelly started on him on the poles. The pair quickly found their groove. She placed in the top 10 at the JH National Finals, won 2 state championships, and hit one pole to place 3rd at Shawnee. “My barrel horse I got this past summer from Donna Gee is bred to be a cow horse but after being a cowboy horse for a couple years was made into a barrel horse. He fits me really well. My rope horse is a mare that my dad trained. I use her for both breakaway and team roping on the heading side.”
Kelly credits a lot of her success in rodeo to showing cow horses and vice versa. “My mom has been doing this for years. She has helped me a lot in the basic training and cross over. These horses need to be broke and as a result has made me a better horsewoman,” Kelly said. In the off season of rodeo this year, Kelly qualified and competed at the NRCHA Celebration of Champions in Ft. Worth, TX in the youth bridle class where she has continued to make a name for herself taking home the title of 2014 NRCHA Youth Bridle World Champion, bringing her total of NRCHA world championships to 3 in both Non-Pro and Youth classes.
“I love running barrels, rodeoing and riding cow horses. I love the crossover needed to compete in both rodeo and cow horse.” she said. Kelly is excited for the rodeo season to start and plans to compete at the Colorado HS rodeos as well as the CJRA rodeos . “I have good horses and I know that if I work hard and can be consistent in all my events, I will make it to both the HS National finals and the CJRA finals.
“I thank my mom and dad – Robert and Betty Lou Valdez – and Don Murphy, and everyone else who has helped me through the years for all their help in getting me where I am today as a horse rider, trainer and competitor,” she said. “I believe that it is good to get help where ever you can in order to become better at whatever it is you are doing,” Kelly added.
Kelly has a very exciting future ahead of her and we look forward to watching her progress in the rodeo arena as well as the show arena.
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