Sunday, October 1, 2017

Riding with Shelby Osceola

Riding with Shelby Osceola
by Gina McKnight

Archived interview from the September 2017 Issue of Florida Equine Athlete
No duplication without permission

From Alabama, USA, welcome National Rodeo competitor Shelby Osceola. The winner of championship buckles and many awards, Shelby loves her horses, her family, racing around barrels, and the thrill of the arena.

Welcome Shelby!

GM: As a rider from a young age, barrel racing at 11 years of age, and always into horses, do you remember your first introduction to horses? 
SO: I can remember being in the living room flipping through the channels on the TV and a rodeo was on and the barrel racing event was on. I was immediately hooked. I looked at my parents and told them I was going to do that. Of course, my mom said she thought it was a phase, but here we are now.

GM: Winning your first buckle in 1999, who has been your mentor, inspiration and guide?
SO: The 1999 buckle was a barrel racing buckle for the EIRA (Eastern Indian Rodeo Association) rodeos. During that time, I didn't look up to one person really, I was just fascinated. The one person that did take me under her wing was Debbie DeHass. She took me to the Hollywood Horse Club when there was a rodeo arena in Hollywood Florida to ride and practice. She helped start the way and still to this day helps me if I need some advice from outside eyes.

GM: We all know that the right horse can be a key to success. How do you pick a winning horse?
SO: Of course, horse power is a lot to the success. Now picking that horse is a challenge in itself. When I am looking for a horse, I first look at the horse's build or body frame. Looking at this helps me see how big or exactly how athletic the horse can be. There also has to be a connection with me and the horse. This is a little hard to explain because it comes from a feeling that a person gets when looking at the horse and sitting on the horse. If the horse does not connect with me, chances are we won't make a good team, and that is what it’s about, the teamwork of the horse and I.

GM: What horse(s) do you currently stable and who is your go-to horse?
SO: Horses that I currently have in my care are, first off, my old barrel horse who is 24 years old and now is happy in retirement, her name is Miss Kitty. Riggin who is a 12 year old gelding that I team rope off of and I have had him since he was 5 years old. Johnny Cash is my calf horse and he is a 11 year old gelding. Johnny Cash is my main man that goes everywhere. Itty Bitty is an 8 year old mare that I use as a barrel horse that I trained around the barrels but she is also a heel horse and has had calves roped off of, too. I have two young horses that are in training which includes a 3 year old mare named Maddie, who will be a barrel horse and calf horse, then there is Lynard who is a 2 year old stud out of my Miss kitty mare that I have raised. Lynard is too young to know what he is going to excel in, but I have high hopes for him.

GM: What events/championships have you won?
SO: I have been the EIRA Breakaway End of the Year Champion multiple years since 2001. I went to college in 2007 and went to EIRA until 2011 where I haven't been back to compete. I can't say how many championships on hand. I have won the first ever women's all-around championship in the EIRA when they finally separated to all around to be men and women. I was also the National High School Rodeo Association Reserve Breakaway Champion in 2006 which to my knowledge is the highest accomplishment for a Seminole Tribe of Florida member in the High School Rodeo standings. On the Indian rodeo scene, I have finish 3rd in the Indian National Finals Rodeo and also in 2011 I won two go rounds buckles in Las Vegas Nevada.

GM: What is your favorite event to compete in?
SO: My favorite event would be breakaway roping. I excel in this event and I am the happiest when I am roping a calf.

GM: In your opinion, where is the best arena for competing?
SO: That is up for debate. I am not picky when I comes to arenas. Any arena is good for me.

GM: Describe a day in your life...
SO: A day in my life is started by getting my daughter Arabella up and ready for school. Once we are ready I drop her off at school then I hit the gym for an hour. After the gym, I come home and try to get horses saddled and rode to keep them exercised and tuned up on foundation work. Sometimes the day doesn't work out where I get to ride like I would like too. I also work at a barn for a man that owns and breeds barrel horses. After all of that I will pick up Arabella about 4 and head home to saddle her horse and jump on my horse again that we might practice barrels or rope some calves, depending on the day. Then horses get fed and to bed to wake up and do it again the next day.

GM: What advice do you have for beginning riders and those looking to become a successful rodeo rider?
SO: Advice I could give would be to keep working hard as this is an unforgiving sport and it wants to point out your flaws, but that will make you work harder. Also, any pointers from others is helpful even if it doesn’t seem like it at the time, just take what they are telling you and think about how it can help with your style. And never give up.

GM: What does horsemanship mean to you?
SO: Horsemanship is a big part to every event. There has to be a foundation between you and your horse. No foundation, no connection. Horsemanship comes down to your hands to your feet, every part of you has to be working together in the right way to get what you want your horse to do. I am still working on my horsemanship because I do not know everything and I am always learning how to improve my skills. It is a never-ending journey with horsemanship.

Gina McKnight is a freelance writer and author from Ohio, USA.

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