On the Trail with Carmen Buckingham
Written by: Naomi Loomis< Back to Articles
Carmen Buckingham, from Bruneau, Idaho, was on the winning team at the first Women’s Ranch Rodeo team at the Western States Ranch Rodeo in 2013. That team, representing Outback Stallion Station, included Katie McFarlane, Kim Grubbs, Carmen Buckingham, and Marcia Eiguren. Her team won again in 2016 representing Miller Livestock from Nevada and included Carmen Buckingham, Katie McFarlane, Kayla Tiegs and Bailey Bachman. In between, she rode the 2014 and 2015 WSRRA National Finals Women’s All-Around Horse and was named the 2016 WSRRA National Finals Women’s Top Hand and was on the 2016 WSRRA Women’s National finals champion team. “I am very proud to win this year because this event is usually for men and there are a lot of really handy women and it really shows that. It is very tough competition and I am very lucky to have such a great team,” she said.
Carmen grew up on a ranch in Mountain Home, Idaho. That’s where she learned her grit and the ways of ranch life. “My parents, Felipe and Mary Fran Aguirre, taught myself, my brothers- Richard and Felipe and my sister-Jeannie to do well, work hard and achieve our goals. I was on the swim team in high school, where my mom was the swim coach but I really like 4-H, riding horses and roping better than I did swimming. I decided to work at a feedlot in Grand View, Idaho during my high school days. This is where I really caught the “cowgirl bug,” Carmen states. “I loved working at the feedlot in high school. I learned how to look for sick cattle and how to treat them; I just loved every bit of the feedlot job. This is where I also started riding colts.”
In 1992, when she was 18 years old, Carmen got a job offer in Sacramento, California where she worked on a ranch owned by Dwayne Martin. “I worked for Dwayne for year,” she states. The she moved to Eagleville, California, worked for a ranch owned by Simplot and there her daughters Bailey and Sami where born. After her daughters were born, Carmen moved back to Bruneau, Idaho, where she met Tom Buckingham. They will be celebrating 17 years of marriage this year.
Bailey manages a ranch in Bruneau, Idaho and was also on the 2016 WSRRA National Finals Women’s Champion team. Sami lives in Lucas, Kansas where she keeps busy ranch/farm wife and a new baby boy. “Both of the girls are good hands. They helped us on the ranch,” Carmen says about her two daughters.
Today Carmen and Tom, own a ranch in Bruneau, where they run mother cows and buy/sell horses. “We look for all-around Quarter Horses that are gentle,” she says. Carmen and Tom keep all their horses for a year just to see what they are like. “We like to know them before we sell them. We might event compete on them before we sell them.” A typical day for Tom and Carmen include riding horses, irrigating, hauling hay, branding calves, checking cows and roping. Achieving the balance of ranch life and ranch rodeo life is something that Carmen does very well. “Competing in ranch rodeos on sale horses is really good advertising for us and having a good horse to compete on is the key to success at the ranch rodeos.”
Carmen and her ranch rodeo team have qualified for the 2017 WSRRA National Finals in Winnemucca, Nevada, November 2-5. “We don’t practice together; we just have the same style. You can say we just fit,” Carmen states about her 2017 WSRRA National finals qualified Women’s ranch rodeo team. Carmen also believe that it takes a mental and physical stagey to win such a big event. “We get together before each event and make a plan.”
Author’s Note: I have learned a couple of really important lessons from Carmen. Cowgirls have a different touch of nature, you see, it’s a fact that cowgirls aren’t as strong as men but their finesse and teamwork is really inspiring to me. Watching Carmen and her team compete at a national level is a real example of team work; they know what to do and where to be. They finesse their horses and roping abilities to get the job done in fast times. Another thing that I have discovered is that these cowgirls are a true testament to sportsmanship. They are humble and efficient. They encourage each other. They all have class.
WSRRA Women’s Ranch Rodeo Team
Katie McFarlane, Kim Grubbs, Carmen Buckingham, and Marcia Eiguren
There is a special group of cowgirls that aim to empower women who believe in showcasing their skills and determination in the arena and out.
The world doesn’t seem to know these cowgirls but the ladies that compete in ranch rodeos are changing all of that. You see, these cowgirls have grit and know how to get a job done. They have no problem sorting and roping cattle, they can doctor sick animals, they can load and tie a calf, they can rope and brand calves and can put a handle on a ranch horse. They also have no problem pulling a rig down the highway, pulling a calf, and working right along with cowboys, they include mothers, daughters, sisters, grandmas, and wives who raise families, hold day jobs and help run ranches. They will do whatever it takes to get the ranch work done. The start of their day usually starts at the break of dawn. Whether it’s branding in the spring or fall roundup, these ladies know cattle. On the weekends, your will find them, competing in ranch rodeos-a true western sport that starting in 1900’s, and one that is preserving the heritage of the West.
Women that compete in ranch rodeos have to have strength, good roping and riding skills, and raw courage. The secret of success is the bond that these ladies develop working together. Many of these cowgirls, either come from the same ranch, or neighboring ranches, have known each other for years, through marriage and friends. They trust each. They believe in each other. Take their cowgirl attitude and put it to work on top of a good, athletic horse in an action-packed timed event and you have an event that is worth watching.
“Ranch rodeo really promotes team spirt because if you don’t work together you probably won’t do good.” Carmen, her team and all of the contestants will get to showcase their talents and abilities in authentic ranch events replicated in a competition setting.
Ranch rodeos are team affairs for working cowboys and/or cowgirls, who compete in events that mirror the daily activities of ranch life. These outstanding women are a shining example of the fact that the women’s division of the WSRRA can compete in and expand the sport of ranch rodeo.
The WSRRA National Finals in Winnemucca, Nevada is an entertaining demonstration of traditional cowgirl skills. The contestants showcase their talents and abilities and those of their horses in authentic ranch events replicated in a competition setting. “Ranch rodeo really promotes team spirt because if you don’t work together you probably won’t do good,” stated Carmen.
Fifteen outstanding ladies will be competing in the women’s division of the WSRRA National Finals in Winnemucca, Nevada, November 2 -5. These 4 days will showcase cowboys and cowgirls from across the western states and Canada.