How does a 9-year-old girl snag the Indian National Finals Rodeo, INFR, Ladies World Barrel Racer title in Las Vegas, NV?
Wait…Love? What’s love got to do with it?
According to Rocksie Marchand, everything. “Roo and I have a bond,” she tells me over the phone. “We love and trust each other.” She admitted that her favorite attribute about Roo is his heart.
During the week of November 7-11, that loving bond shined between horse and rider as the light-as-a-feather can chaser cornered every barrel and zipped past the electronic timers. It was evident Roo wasn’t the only one with heart.
Her mother, Ashley Zacherle Caudell, started Rocksie in the Little People rodeos at the tender age of 3. She quickly outgrew her pony, Cowboy, climbed onto a larger horse, and finally made her way to Roo––registered as Moneys on the Redmond.
The young Native girl continued to bloom as she traveled from one rodeo to the next, her mother behind the wheel. It was only natural for a mother to support her daughter as riding horses runs thick through both sets of veins.
Raised on the Colville Indian Reservation in Northeast Washington, Ashely began racing on the tracks at age 17 and professionally at age 18. With a jockey’s license in Canada, Washington, Idaho, Oregon, and Montana, Ashely earned multiple winnings including a stellar 4-time women’s relay title at the Pendleton Round-Up in Pendleton, OR.
The young girl’s determination and drive inspires dreamers of all ages.
Rocksie earned the money to buy Roo from riding ponies for the Hermiston, OR horse sale and from her rodeo earnings including the hefty payout from her INFR wins and world champion title. She’d bought the horse from her aunt, Cody Marchand.
It was not an easy sell, and the only way her mother agreed was if Rocksie wore a helmet. “The horse was too fast,” Ashley admitted.
2017 was the first year for Rocksie to compete in Indian rodeos, both in the King Mountain region and the Western States region. She sat in sixth place going into King Mountain’s final rodeo but finished at the top of the leaderboard. This gave her the needed qualification for the INFR.
I asked Rocksie how 63 and 1/2 pound youngster handles such a big horse. She replied, “With soft hands.” Ashely added patience, which had to be acquired as at first as Roo was anxious and a little hard to handle.
At the King Mountain finals, her father, Justus, asked her if she was nervous.
Rocksie replied, “I don’t get nervous because I believe in Roo.”
10 saddles, around 200 buckles, 1 trophy, 6 eagle feathers, and a world title later, she’s headed to the American Rodeo in Texas as the youngest INFR World Barrel Racing Champ. Her fastest time in Vegas was an impressive 14.846.
Is life normal for this petite cowgirl?
Rocksie thinks so…
Her favorite subject in school is social studies.
Her favorite food is chili dogs.
“When I grow up, I want a farm with one fast horse and lots of mini’s (miniature horses),” Rocksie claims.
She helps other girls grow their barrel racing skills by offering sound advice.
Rocksie admits that it was scarier to give the school required INFR presentation to her Wilber Elementary School classmates (Wilber, WA K-6 students) than run barrels in an arena full of fans.
She loves to play basketball.
Rocksie’s biggest fans are her sisters: Hartlyn age 4 and Gracyn age 2. In fact, when a female bully from school was giving her sister a hard time, Hartlyn suggested, “Just tell ’em you’re the world champ!”
Her mother describes Rocksie as silly. Rocksie notes her biggest strength is that she’s a giver.
I have to agree.
How is Rocksie preparing Roo for the American Rodeo?
Due to basketball practice, Rocksie long-trots Roo only 2 to 3 times a week. She also trots and lopes him around barrels.
She claims to eat “pretty well,” I suppose her fair share of chili dogs, and “Cookies,” Justus adds.
How does Miss Rocksie feel about being an Indian world champion ladies barrel racer?
Rocksie claims to be a world champ, a girl has to ride hard, be confident, and believe in herself.
I’d say, that’s exactly what it takes. And she’s done just that.
She says a successful ride makes her feel, “Happy, excited, and glad!” She also claims if Roo “nails” the first barrel, the rest of the ride is clean. But the third barrel is her favorite.
Ashley says, “My daughter is very humble and grateful.”
Anyone who tracked Rocksie’s interviews in Vegas will agree.
“The community, both in Wilber and on the (Colville) reservation, has been tremendous. Everyone continually congratulates Rocksie on her world title,” Justus says. The pride in Rocksie’s parent’s voices shone through during the hour-long phone interview.
What’s the American all about?
Rocksie is scheduled to compete in the semi-finals for the American Rodeo in Arlington, Texas. She is delighted to be one of 150 barrel racers in Ft. Worth for the semi-finals held February 18-24; barrel racing is Feb. 20. The first performance of the semi-finals is Feb. 22, the second is Feb. 23, and the semi-finals out-and-out is Feb. 24.
One million dollars is up for grabs amongst the qualifiers––all cowboys and cowgirls who are invited to the event. The million is won by the qualifiers, and if more than one qualifier wins an event, it is split between those who win it.
Rocksie still needs to earn funds for the Texas trip to the American Rodeo. The World Champ and her family will host an Indian Taco Feed and Silent Auction fundraiser at the community center in Omak, WA on February 3 from 11am – 6pm.
How will a 9-year-old girl snag an American Title?
Tickets for RFD-TV’s The American are on sale and can be purchased online at http://www.americanrodeo.com.
INFR Video of Rocksie Marchand: