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Sammi Jo Gaudet
Written by: Lily Landreth< Back to Articles
Sammi Jo Gaudet is the rodeo pioneer of the family. Although her parents, Donna and Steve Gaudet, had never owned horses and did not consider themselves “horse people”, they lovingly supported Sammi Jo in her passion. Sammi Jo was introduced to horses and rodeo by friends of the family when she was in eighth grade. “My first year of riding was absolutely horrible,” she remembers. “I don’t know how many times I fell off!” She bought her first horse from a friend and her parents secretly built her a barn behind their meat market – Gillis Grocery and Café, and Gillis Meat Market. “I still can’t figure out how they got that past me!” Sammi Jo said with a laugh. With horse and trailer in tow, it was time to rodeo. But it didn’t come easy at first. “When everyone was winning buckles and saddles and awards, I got a participation buckle and t-shirt,” she says. “The next year I stepped up my game and won the reserve saddle in the all-around.”
Today, the 18-year-old from Lake Charles, La. competes in barrel racing, pole bending, goat tying, ribbon roping, and trail course. Pole bending is her favorite event right now, as she is back to competing in the event on her gelding, Jack, who has just recovered from being sick. Sammi Jo’s other horses are Hemi, her barrel horse, and Eli, her trail and goat tying horse. A person who has been very influential in coaching Sammi Jo and her horses is Stacy Elias.
In addition to rodeoing with NLBRA, Cajun Little Britches, and Louisiana Little Britches, Sammi Jo is finishing her second semester of school at Louisiana College. She is majoring in business with a minor in theater. She says of theater, “It’s so much more fun than I thought it would be! We all help with everything (in theater) but I’ve worked the most on sets. That’s really fun.” Sammi Jo’s older sister Morgan also attended Louisiana College. She graduated in 2013 and now teaches second grade.
Like many NLBRA members, Sammi Jo’s favorite part of the summer is competing at the NLBFR in Pueblo, Colo. Not only does she enjoy the competing and the camaraderie, Sammi Jo also loves cooking for everyone at the finals. Her dad and several other families, including Chad Richard, cook three meals a day every day of the finals, except on Wednesday, when everyone goes to see the sights of Pueblo. Sammi Jo always cooks the fajitas. She and her family haul a large chest freezer to the finals in the back of their horse trailer. “The men get together, and some of the women, and come to the meat market to prepare the food. They slice veggies and meat, then vacuum seal it and we keep it cool in the freezer on the two and a half day trip to Colorado,” says Donna, Sammi Jo’s mom. “It’s a lot of fun!”
Not only that, the Gaudets and several other families started Cajun Little Britches, which recently finished its second season. Donna volunteers as the treasurer of the association, and Steve, Sammi Jo’s dad, volunteers as a gate man and works the derigging chutes. Sammi Jo is serving on the NLBRA youth board as the 2014 Vice-President. She has helped the youth board plan social events for the members of the association, and the youth board flew to Las Vegas during the WNFR and helped run the booth on the concourse of the Thomas and Mack Center. “We also did Bowling with the Stars where we got to meet a lot of people and raise money for the Justin Cowboy Crisis Fund.”
Sammi Jo has one more season with the NLBRA. She says of her future plans, “I haven’t thought about it much because I don’t want it (Little Britches) to be over! I’d like to compete in some jackpots and barrel races, but for this year in Little Britches, I want to make it to the short go at nationals in barrels. I’ve never been super cut-throat competitive. I look at rodeo as fun!”
Noble Outfitters recognizes youth accomplishments and supports programs like NLBRA. Sammi Jo will receive a Hands Duffle!
Learn more at nobleoutfiters.com