On the wall in the meeting room at the Sisters, Ore., Pro Rodeo hangs a bull’s head, a testament to a man and his family’s […]
ProFile: Zancanella Family
Written by: Ruth Nicolaus< Back to Articles
Horses are the tie that binds the Zancanella family, and Kristen Zancanella wouldn’t have it any other way.
Matt and Kristen Zancanella, along with Matt’s sisters, ReAnn Zancanella and Bryel and her husband Sean Mulligan, own and operate Pride Farm, a horse business centered around their stud, King, whose registered name is Lions Share of Fame.
But for Matt and Kristen, their love of horses starts much farther back.
For Matt, life began in Rock Springs, Wyo. the eldest child of three, with two younger sisters. While his dad worked hard to get his veterinary clinic started, his mom groomed dogs. The money she earned from grooming went for entry fees for her kids: Matt and his sisters Bryel and ReAnn. And after she worked all day, she drove all night, hauling her kids to youth rodeos. Matt and his sisters competed in Little Britches, junior and high school rodeos, with his attention being focused mainly on the team roping, and Matt realizes the sacrifices she made for her kids to rodeo.
After graduating from high school in 1994, he spent a semester in college. That winter, he entered Rodeo Houston and never returned to college. “He started rodeoing (fulltime) after that, and never looked back,” Kristen said. “He was addicted to team roping.”
For the next decade and a half, he criss-crossed the country, competing at pro rodeos and making his dream come true three times: qualifying for the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo. In 2002 and 2003, he heeled for Travis Tryan, and in 2004, he roped with Wade Wheatley.
In 2004, he met a tall slender cowgirl named Kristen Storm at the San Juan Capistrano, Calif. rodeo. Kristen was there as a volunteer, and the couple started dating. She moved to South Dakota the next year, and in 2006, they married.
In 2011, the road was wearing on Matt, and he quit rodeo full time, focusing on the Badlands Circuit. He began his own business: Pro Earth Animal Health. The business sells all-natural supplements for cattle and horses, and since he began, it’s taken off. Matt’s genuine personality and friendliness helped him in rodeo and has helped him with his business. “He’s never met an enemy, everyone remembers him and everyone likes him,” Kristen said. “He’s a genuine guy, and he tends to remember everyone. He has a lot of friends.”
Kristen grew up in Orange County, California, in town, with a love of horses but parents who never rode and had no place to keep a horse. So she took riding lessons at the age of seven, when her instructor recognized her as a “horse freak,” as Kristen says. The lady allowed her to spend as much time as she wanted at the stables, where Kristen ended up giving riding lessons and spent summers working for jumping, cutting and reining trainers. Growing up, barrel racing was not her favorite event. “Growing up I thought barrel racing was the stupidest sport ever.” Now that she spends days breaking and training horses for barrels, her opinion has changed. “It’s tougher than anything I’ve ever done.”
Full story available in the February 2015 issue.