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Tricks of the Trade (5)


Meishja holds a short lead attached to Poco’s bridle and slowly guides the horse. Abigail completes all but the final step. She can’t quite get parallel to the ground. Her legs quiver, and she grabs the saddle horn.

Tonight’s performance doesn’t include that trick, she says, but it’s still a good physical and mental workout. “This sport is a mind game. Whatever you can do to face your fears is a good thing.”

Abigail remembers once practicing a Full Fender with her horse at a gallop. In this stunt a rider lets go of the saddle horn, twists her right leg out of the stirrup, lowers her body, and hangs cross-legged in midair on the left side of the horse.

“As I got into the trick, my horse spooked and took off. I reached for the saddle horn, but he jumped to one side, and I fell under him.” She admitted her horse was still in training, and he wasn’t ready for that trick.

“He couldn’t help stepping on my abdomen. I’m sure he diverted his weight because nothing broke.”

She sustained a chest contusion, an injury that made breathing difficult. “My abdomen was purple and swollen — I looked five months pregnant for weeks.”


In 2008 Bob Barnes was looking for a trick-riding act to fill a rodeo program. He called Karen and Harry Vold, fellow rodeo stock contractors in Colorado, knowing they were good judges of talent.

Karen described two up-and-comers who had proven themselves to be determined, quick learners while enrolled in her trick-riding school in 2006 and 2007.

Abigail and Meishja recognized their big break. Previously the sisters had booked only county fairs and local horse shows.

With Barnes’ encouragement, they launched the yearlong application process to join the six-decades-old Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA).

(Read more Tricks of the Trade)

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