story by Siri Stevens Tony Keeton started his company, Rockin’ K Rodeo in 2017. It’s not his only full time job. Tony has worked for […]
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Meet the Member Natalie Overholt
IPRA member, Natalie Overholt with her horse, Casey and dog, Jasper
– Brent Puhl
story by Lily Weinacht
Natalie Overholt is the IPRA’s 2014 Barrel Racing World Champion. The 36 year old, originally from Michigan, qualified for her first IFR when she was 12 and won the average at IFR 22 on Mr. Liberty Bob. She has since qualified for the finals seven more times. Despite her horse, Casey, pulling a muscle the week of the 2014 finals, the pair couldn’t be caught, finally winning the elusive world championship. “We ended up placing in the average in two go-rounds, and we had the year-end won,” Natalie recalls.
The youngest of five, Natalie naturally followed her three older sisters and brother into the arena, and was certainly not to be outdone running barrels. Her father bought and sold horses on a regular basis. “I was the guinea pig of the family, as the youngest, and I got to try a lot of the horses,” Natalie remembers. “At the time it didn’t seem like it helped (barrel racing), but looking back, I think it did. When I was nine, my dad started having my older sister, Kim, take me along to rodeos, and a few years later, we were winning! My dad and my sister really influenced me. If it wasn’t for Kim and my dad, I may have never started going to rodeos. My parents, Howard and Joyce, and siblings, especially Kim, Raina, and my brother Coy have always been supportive and influenced my barrel racing and rodeoing in a positive way.”
Coming from Michigan, Natalie naturally gravitated toward the IPRA’s rodeos. Though she ran poles growing up and tried her hand at breakaway roping, it was her partiality for speed that steered her to barrels. She college rodeoed for a year, then joined the IBRA and started running barrels on Fols Fancy Jet, or “Casey”, in 2003. The mare’s talent shone. She was running in the first division of rodeos, and posting the fastest time at several finals rodeos, including the IBRA Michigan state finals in 2006 and the IBRA Indiana state finals in 2008. Casey also won 2014 IPRA Horse the Year, which was as proud of a moment for Natalie as winning her year-end World title. Natalie also runs barrels on Frosted Showgirl, better known as “Showgirl”. “I hauled her last summer, and she’s coming around really good, but she’s not winning consistently. One of my biggest goals is to have her winning paychecks consistently. I also have two two-year-olds that I want to futurity.”
Now living near Lincoln, Ark., with her horses and Red Heeler, Jasper, Natalie rodeos full time with her boyfriend, Tyler West, who is an IPRA saddle bronc rider. Though the warmer weather and poisonous snakes have been daunting, Natalie states that she is adjusting to southern living. During the slower months of rodeo, Natalie is also a substitute teacher, teaching all grades and focusing primarily on special education. She’ll fill the other gaps of time by hauling mail from a local processing plant to the post office and taking in outside horses to ride. “Rodeo is what I like to do!” she says passionately. “If I haven’t been going all winter and it gets close to spring, I have to go to some rodeos!” Further motivation comes from the challenge of staying in step with the ever shifting dynamics of barrel racing, and keeping her horses at their finest.
Goals for the rodeo season center around the IPRA, and getting her mare, Showgirl, to win consistently. “I want to keep learning and improving, and be successful enough to continue doing what I enjoy doing!”