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 Members: Cameron Richter & Riley Ruland
story by Lily Weinacht
Cameron Richter and Riley Ruland won their first state title in the team roping this summer, a feather in each of their cowboy hats since they have been roping together before they were even knee high. Their dads were backing into the roping box together before their sons were born and both passed their love of the event down to another generation.
Cameron, a 16-year-old header from Quinn, S.D., competed in his first roping in fifth grade. A year of 4-H rodeo was followed by high school rodeo, competing in his sole event of team roping with Riley at his side. “My motivation is the love for rodeo!” says Cameron. “It’s a great pastime and I enjoy hanging out with my friends, but also competing and representing the state of South Dakota.” While both Cameron and Riley went into state finals leading the team roping, they admit that winning the title came as a surprise. “We went in there and had a lot of good luck, and we roped good and won it by one point,” says Riley. “It was all a pretty special experience! Nationals was really cool – it was a learning experience, and we’ll hopefully make it back and do better next year.”
Both Riley and Cameron’s dads have coached the boys in their roping, and Cameron also names his brothers, Dalton and Trey, and friend, Jim Selchert, among the people who have helped him. Cameron has a twin sister, Taylor, and an older sister, Kelsey, who both rope, and encourage him in and out of the arena. “I also want to thank my brother-in-law, Trevor Hupp, for his help,” says Cameron.
The Richter family makes their home in Quinn, less than two miles away from the Ruland family. The roping partners often travel together with their parents, Troy and Dawn Richter, and Shaun and Michelle Ruland. When he’s not helping his family on their ranch or working his part time job, Cameron and his roping horse, Sport, frequently join Riley for practice in the Ruland’s indoor arena, where Riley’s parents also hold barrel races and ropings.
Riley, 17, can’t remember a time when he wasn’t rodeoing. Primarily a heeler – though he also competes in tie-down roping – Riley ropes anywhere he can, including the SDRA, WTRC, and USTRC. “Rodeo is what I really love to do, and I’m blessed with a big indoor barn to practice in, and good horses and people to get me down the road,” says Riley. “My dad taught me everything I know and helped me train my horses, and I also base my roping off of Clay O’Brien Cooper – I like his style.”
Riley competes in both his events on his horse, Usain. “My dad named him after Usain Bolt, the Jamaican track runner,” Riley explains. “He has a lightning bolt on his hip, plus a fast name is a good name for a horse. Dad broke and trained him, and he turned out to be pretty special!” Riley is also joined in the practice pen by his sister, Shelby, who is a freshman and just starting her first year with the SDHSRA.
Both Riley and Cameron are juniors at Wall High School. They are in all the same classes together, and have similar taste, particularly enjoying their Ag. classes. Cameron is also in FFA and a member of the Ag. Issues Team this year. Riley used to play school sports, but recently chose to focus his energy on roping. Both he and Cameron agree that the NHSFR was their favorite rodeo of the year, and they are equally eager to return next summer. They are both planning to college rodeo, and Cameron says, “My goal is to become an overall better team roper.” Riley adds, “I’d like to rodeo as much as I can for as long as I can. Glory to God, and roping’s fun!”