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Tricks of the Trade (6)


Membership would mean new opportunities, allowing them to ride a professional rodeo circuit. Abigail and Meishja got to work booking shows to feature in audition videos and gathering letters of recommendation.

The selected performance arena for their final entrance evaluation in 2009 sat in the lowest spot of an outdoor amphitheater in Emmetsburg. Heavy spring rains throughout the week had drenched the arena with water.

“The mud was so sloppy that when we made footprints, the holes filled with water,” remembers Meishja. “We tried a short practice the night before the rodeo. Our horses did their best to stay up, but they slid to the side on the curves. We didn’t even feel safe rehearsing, so we quit.”

Both sisters recall praying for the arena to dry up before their evaluation performance. It didn’t. Minutes before the show Abigail gave a pep talk to herself and Meishja.

“Our horses know what they’re doing,” she assured her sister. “They’ll look out for us, and they’ll hold us up.”

Meishja started the performance with a Side Layout, a move that requires her to throw all her weight to the left side of her horse. Junior cantered sideways to offset her weight. Abigail saw him slip in the mire and start to go down. She yelled at Meishja, who was able to right herself in the saddle just in time.

Abigail didn’t fare as well on her first stunt. The Cheyenne Drag required her to draw her hand and foot along the ground — now thick with mud — while her head was just inches from the ground.

“My hair filled with so much mud that I thought my horse was running on it — it was that heavy. I came up like a Dalmatian, mud spattered all over my face and body.”

(Read more Tricks of the Trade)

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