R.J. “Bob” Robinson, one of Canada’s premier bull riders, spent his life competing and serving in the sport he loves. He is one of nine […]
Opportunities for girls to barrel race or rope were rare as Donna Armstrong (now Shedeed) grew up on a farm near Gordon, Neb. It was the early ’50s; before organized barrel racing associations and the newly formed WPRA was just getting off the ground. “I had always loved horses growing up, but there weren’t places to go and compete for girls. Especially in the roping; women just did not rope, it was all men roping. It was quite a while after high school that I got started doing some barrel racing.” One of the first early organizations that Donna joined was the Wyo-braska Association, a part of the WPRA. In 1961 Donna and her friend, Jean Reeves began competing in barrel racing in Gordon, Neb. “Somewhere along the way I picked up roping and began competing where ever I could.”
Donna competed in the WPRA Badlands Circuit for several years and continues to make her presence known. “I’ve won the Badlands Circuit Team Roping Heeling Championship in 2010, ’11, and 2012. I was in the top 15 and I’m planning on trying to get that again this year.” She doesn’t limit herself to just rodeo and has her set her sight on some of the big USTRC ropings. “I’m going to the Big Horn Classic and rope in the all-girl roping. It’s co-approved for WPRA so it counts in both associations.”
Donna met Bob Shedeed in 1964 and they were married a year later. The couple settled in the town she was born in, Rushville, Neb. “We had a hardware store and ran that for 30 years. We had a farm outside of town and built an indoor arena. We used to have jackpots there and even had Oldtimer Rodeos there in ’85 and ’86.” They ran their store, farmed, and rodeoed there until 2000 when they retired and moved to Hermosa, S.D.
They joined the National Old Timer’s Rodeo Association, fore-runner of today’s National Senior Pro, in 1978. “We traveled all over, going to rodeos in Canada, and in the States. In those years, it seemed like that if he placed in the calf roping; then I wouldn’t place in the barrels. And if I place in the barrels; he’d wouldn’t place in the calf roping. One of us would win enough to keep our entry fees paid.” She was also active in the association as an officer and served as the barrel-racing director for six years.
To say that Donna was successful in the Senior Pro association would be an understatement. Over the years, she teamed up with Bob to claim the titles as the World Champion Ribbon Runner in 1993, 1994, Reserve World Champion Ribbon Runner in 2003, and the Reserve World Champion Barrel Racer in 2002 and 2004. She was the women’s All Around Champion in 2001, 2003, and 2005. She was the Reserve All Around World Champion in 2004, the Frontier Circuit Champion Barrel Racer in 2006, and the 2007 Champion Heeler. In the Canadian Senior Pro association she has the 2003 Reserve Champion Ribbon Runner title and was the Champion Ribbon runner in 2004.” For Donna the win that has the most meaning is the 2005 Women’s All Around Championship. “Both Bob and I won the All Around titles that year, and he was Reserve World Champion Calf Roper.” The pair also won the 2003 Reserve Champion Ribbon Roper and Ribbon Runner. Donna and Bob were inducted into the National Senior Pro Hall of fame in 2008.
She gives credit to the equine partners that she has had over the years and says, “You have to have a good horse. That is so important to any event , whether its team roping, barrel racing or calf roping, that can make the difference between winning and losing.”
It was in 1983 that Donna and Bob began a life-changing work by starting a ministry. “We bought a building and started our Christian Community Center. We put on Cowboy Church services for 15 years and that is still a big part of our lives. Now we’re combining church services with team roping since we’re roping more now. People need to have that in their lives; all you have to do is look around to what is happening in this world. The good news is Jesus, you have to focus on that. Now we’re moving towards doing cowboy church at team ropings and have done that for Dennis Tryan in Dillon (Mont.). We’ve done some for Larry Steele in Rapid City.”
Donna says that the Senior Pro Association gives her the incentive to stay in shape and work out. “It’s pretty demanding competing in rodeos and you do need to be in shape to keep up.” But by far it’s the friendships and people that Donna and Bob have come to know and love that given them their biggest reward. She has shifted from competitive barrel racing to team roping but continues to train and work with barrel horses. “I have stopped barrel racing a couple of years ago and now I train barrel horses for my granddaughters.”
Their permanent residence is Hermosa, S.D. and they winter in Arizona. “We do a lot of team roping down there. There are jackpots you can go to every day and sometimes two in a day. I won a jacket down there this last winter in a jackpot that had over 200 teams. So I’m pretty proud of that jacket.” They have a daughter, Denell, and four sons, Stacy, Troy, Cory, and David Dunn. Donna and Bob have 15 grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren with one more due yet this year.
Donna plans to keep running in the Senior Pro rodeos with no quit date set. “Don’t ever give up. The story for us is continuing. You have to set your goals. That’s what keeps you going is riding and roping. You ever been to a hospital lately and see people that have some real problems.
Rodeo Newstm (ISSN 1934-5224) is published 12 times a year, semi-monthly May-Nov; once in Dec Jan, Feb., March, and April by Publication Printers, 2001 S. Platte River Drive, Denver, Colo., 80223. Iris Ink, Inc., parent company of Rodeo News is located at 3604 WCR 54G, Laporte, Colo., 80535. Subscriptions are $30 per year. Periodicals postage paid at LaPorte, Colo., and additional mailing offices. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to Rodeo News, 1612 Laporte Ave. Suite #2, Fort Collins, CO 80521
Canada Post (CPC) publication #40798037. Material in this publication may not be reproduced in any form without permission. Rodeo News carries advertising and editorials as a service to the readers. However, publication of advertisements and editorials in Rodeo News does not commit Rodeo News to agree with or guarantee any of the merchandise or livestock advertised.