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 Natalie Zacharias
story by Jennie Lawrence
Wagner, South Dakota cowgirl Natalie Zacharias wants to have fun and make the best of her last year in the South Dakota High School Rodeo Association (SDHSRA.) She has been a member of the association for four-years.
She started rodeoing when she was 13-years-old. A cousin talked her older sister Bailey into rodeoing. Her parents then asked Natalie if she and another sister, KaCee would like to participate in the sport as well. They both said yes. Natalie has not missed a summer of rodeoing since then.
Natalie is the daughter of Kimberly, who is employed by the Yankton Federal Prison Camp and Charles Zacharias, a farmer/rancher. Her siblings are her two older adult sisters. Her dad and older sisters all used to rodeo. Natalie is the only one in the family that has continued with the sport.
Natalie rides a 13-year-old buckskin quarter horse as her barrel and pole bending horse. The family raised Babe from a filly. A family friend trained her. Natalie also team ropes and competes in breakaway roping. She is a heeler in the team roping. Her horse for those events is an 18-year-old sorrel gelding named Si. Her sister Bailey purchased him as a finished horse. Natalie also has a four-year-old bay mare named Cat that she is starting on barrels.
Natalie said her mother is her biggest supporter. “She comes with me to every rodeo. She makes sure I have everything that I need, and before I rope, she helps me lose my nerves.” Natalie prepares for every rodeo by practicing, and by riding her horses to keep them in shape.
She attends around 15 rodeos a year. Her favorite rodeo-road trip meal consists of beef sticks and cheese.
Natalie is an 18-year-old senior at Avon High School. The thing she likes best about her school is that everyone is friendly. It is a small-town school, so everyone knows everyone else. However, a small school has drawbacks, too. “The thing I like least about my school is how small the classes are. You don’t have a variety of groups to hang out with,” Natalie said.
She also plays volleyball, and participates in archery. She enjoys spending time with her family, and hanging out with her friends. Her hobbies include ice fishing in the winter and boat fishing in the summer. She also enjoys going to brandings. Her favorite movie is “Eight Seconds.” The film focuses on Lane Frost’s life. The young cowgirl named Frost as her rodeo hero. “He was an amazing bull rider. He wasn’t arrogant about being good, he tried to make himself better and better every day. He was grateful for everything that he had, and for every day he could walk on this amazing earth,” she said.
Her favorite pet is a miniature dachshund-Chihuahua cross named Cinch. She got the dog at a 4-H show about six-years ago. According to Natalie, Cinch is a lazy little dog that likes to eat and take naps.
Natalie’s future plans include attending Lake Area Technical College in Watertown, South Dakota. She will pursue an Associate of Applied Science in the Assistant Occupational Therapist program, with the goal of being employed in that field. She does not plan on joining the National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association (NIRA) to rodeo in college. However, she does want to do the South Dakota Rodeo Association (SDRA) events when she has the time. For now though, her goal is to make it to the South Dakota High School Rodeo Finals one more time.