story by Michele Toberer Maddie Branum is a 13-year-old cowgirl from Taylorville, Illinois that has competed in the International Miniature Rodeo Association for the past […]
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Meet the Member Laramie Gibson
story by Michele Toberer
The Fry family is living and breathing all things cowboy in Alaska as they raise Double Diamond Quarter Horses and follow the International Miniature Rodeo Association trail. William Fry left the lower 48 states to start working in the oilfields in 2007 and made Alaska his permanent residence when he and his son Aidan moved there in 2011. William and his barrel racing wife, Bridgette combined their families there, and they now raise Aidan, 12, Laramie, 11, and Leila, 6, on their Palmer, Alaska ranch. Bridgette stays home to stay hands on with the children’s schooling and activities; and she works with the family’s stable of Quarter Horses that they raise and train. William works as an electrician in the oilfields and the family spends as much time riding and attending rodeos as possible.
Although the whole family has rodeo on the mind, Laramie Gibson is the only one currently competing in the IMRA. Aidan rode calves briefly, but is focusing more on barrel racing currently, and Leila who rode along on her first horse at 6-months-old, has her sights on being a trick rider, jumper, and rodeo queen for her future goals. Laramie, a 5th grader at Academy Charter School, qualified for his first IMRA finals in January as an all-around cowboy and finished in the top 5 in both bull riding and barrel racing in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. “Laramie gave 100%, and I can’t say enough positive things about it,” explained William. “When my wife told me about the schedule at the finals, I was concerned it would take forever to get done in the short few days. But it was amazing how well-organized it was. They ran over 100 kids, (from toddlers to high schoolers) twice in 2 events, in 5 different age groups, in less than 13 hours and we still had time for dinner! It was just amazing.”
The Frys are appreciative to the Schliesser family, from south central Alaska, for being instrumental in brining the IMRA opportunity to the area. The Schliessers brought some of their own miniature bulls and were able to co-sanction with other local rodeos to provide Alaskans with the opportunity to qualify for the IMRA finals. Lacee Schliesser and her brother Colton also competed at the IMRA finals, Lacee in barrel racing, and Colton as a bull rider.
This season, Laramie has qualified to attend the IMRA finals in January 2020, and the family is making plans for taking the trek to Oklahoma once again. Winters can be a challenging time for travel in Alaska and especially for hauling horses. “There are many that ship their horses out of Alaska for the winter, but we keep ours here year-round. Our rodeo season is generally from the end of May until September. It can be very challenging to trailer horses in the winter. We will trail ride unless it gets too icy; but once break-up or spring arrives, we start really getting everything legged up.”
Besides riding, both Laramie and Aidan enjoy competing as wrestlers in the Mid-Valley Wolves Wrestling Club. They also compete in the Native Youth Olympics where over 2000 Alaskan youth, from over 50 communities, compete in many events based on the native culture. The athletic contests and games include events such as Alaskan High Kick, Eskimo Stick Pull, Scissor Broad Jump, and Two-Foot High Kick.
Laramie practices riding his drop barrel as often as possible, and competes on miniature bulls, steers and junior bulls. He often practices by riding horses bareback while being lunged. Laramie is interested in heeling and hopes to one day attend college on a wrestling, team roping, and academic scholarship. “Laramie is a very determined young man. If he puts his mind to it, he excels.”