story by Ruth Nicolaus Madison Richmann is president of the Colorado High School Rodeo Association. The Keenesburg, Colorado cowgirl competes in the breakaway roping, barrel […]
Association MemberJoin Rodeo News
Meet the Member Springsky Chee
story by Darlene Craven
Humility and connection to her horses represent the core of Springsky Chee’s approach to competing in CSHSRA rodeos as a full-blooded member of the Diné (the People), commonly referred to as the Navajo Nation. Springsky, who is 15 and a sophomore at Navajo Preparatory High School in Farmington, New Mexico, likes to go fast and has won money doing it. Her specialty is barrel racing, but she also competes in pole bending and is looking to try her hand at breakaway roping.
Though Springsky followed her two older barrel-racing sisters into riding at the age of three, she stopped at age seven due to other interests. After competing in gymnastics (she’s 5’1”), basketball, track and field and running cross-country, Springsky had a “life-changing moment” at twelve and returned to rodeo. Her big sisters (Winterblossom and Autumnrain) left their horses at home when they went to college, leaving little sister to care for them which compelled her to ride and compete again. As the last kid left at home (older brother in Farmington, New Mexico; one sister at Fort Lewis College in Durango, Colorado; and the other at Grand Canyon University in Phoenix, Arizona), Springsky was inspired to step into caring for sheep, horses and a multitude of dogs and cats at the family homestead near Cortez, Colorado. Her father, Dr. Joseph Chee, and her mother, Dr. Terri Chee, are both educators and have high expectations for their children. To that end, they have encouraged the Chee offspring to make a place for themselves through competition, academics and pursuing their careers. In doing so, Springsky has embraced the Diné traditional and cultural values as part of her horsemanship’s key ingredients in the sport of rodeo. This allows Springsky to connect with her horses with discipline and patience while practicing humility and grace as one key element.
Though rodeo takes a big chunk of her time, Springsky still appreciates running and will be competing in cross country this coming fall because she loves to run. It’s a good thing math is her favorite subject because she aspires to go to the Colorado School of Mines to pursue an engineering degree. When she isn’t turning barrels or shooting hoops, Springsky takes up her bow and arrow for additional interests.
Though Springsky has yet to qualify for state finals in high school, she did get to state in pole bending as an eighth grader. “It was a good day for us.” She knows it will happen at the high school level and her sisters, who are both professional barrel racers and her biggest champions, help her iron out her mistakes. Winterblossom, the older sister, has been instrumental in showing Springsky how gentleness and patience helps her infuse the necessary remedies to connect with her horses as one. Autumnrain is more competitive and pushes Springsky to master her skills by bridging her traditional values, academic endeavors and horsemanship skills. She also credits her inner strength to her mother because “if it weren’t for Mom, I would not be the most complete person I am.”
Springsky’s favorite mounts are Tex, a 12-year old chestnut quarter horse who “comes with many surprises” that keep her on her toes. She’s had Tex for five years and “he takes care of me wherever I go.” Except for that one time in Lamar, when he whipped around the first barrel like a helicopter and Springsky couldn’t keep up with him resulting in a mouthful of arena dirt. “I have to work hard to make sure he pays attention to me while giving him all the opportunity to be fast.”
Dually, who is Tex’s full brother, is fourteen and fast in the pole bending. The first time Springsky got on him, she was a little scared because he was so fast. “It was a hold-on kind of thing.” They’ve won a few checks though and she appreciates Dually’s amazing speed every time out.
Springsky is getting to discover her inner self through riding miles thru the open range and is looking forward to the spring 2020 rodeo season as she was “raised on the rodeo road.” Competitive while staying humble and patient could just be the magic combination for Springsky Chee.