Hello! I am honored to be a part of the 2016 Cowgirl Dream Team. I particularly love Cowgirl Dreams Co. because every cowgirl has a dream, right? Here is mine:
Growing up in Grant, MI, my family raised and trained Appaloosa horses. We traveled and showed at all levels, from local open shows to the Appaloosa Nationals. As a little kid, my parents made sure I was mounted on nice horses. At 14, I started training horses. From then on, if I wanted an English horse or a speed horse I had to train my own. I still love training to this day. Each horse is different. I love getting “in their brain” and finding out what makes each one perform at its’ best.
My family and I used to camp with our horses at the Sparta rodeo over Labor Day weekend and that is where I fell in love with rodeo. I still remember sitting up high on that hill watching those girls race those magnificent horses. I was amazed at the speed they had and how they would turn so tight around those barrels. I also admired the camaraderie amongst the barrel racers. Everyone hauled together, helped, and cheered for each other. What a great sport!
I always dreamed of competing in rodeo, but it took a special young man (my future husband Ron) to push me to chase my dream. When we first started dating, I had a number of excuses, I was in college, I was working full time, I didn’t have the right horse, etc… In all honesty, I was scared and didn’t know where to start. After listing my excuses, Ron looked me in the eye and said, “Chris, I know several girls that run Pro Rodeo and you are EVERY bit as talented as they are, probably more. All you need is time traveling down the road and get some experience.” 20 years later and I am living the dream.
I’d love to tell you about all the hobbies I have in my free time, but who am I kidding? I work a full time job, I’m a wife, mother and I go to 30+ rodeos every year….I don’t have any spare time. Out of all my jobs, my favorite is being a Mom. I love watching my daughter Clare grow. I could go on and on about Clare, but I will let her tell you her story, in her own 2016 Cowgirl Dreams team bio. Check it out here: Clare Bjork
I tend to be the serious one in our small family of 3. I’m always focused on the next task and don’t take time to relax and have fun. I think that’s why the Lord has paired me up with a husband and daughter that love to have fun and a good laugh. For example, at the 2015 Super Kicker finals, in Howe Indiana, my daughter was “encouraged” by my husband to set off an electronic whoopee cushion and then point her finger at me or some other poor unsuspecting person. Yep, you never know what’s going to happen with those two. You just have to shake your head and laugh.
But that is enough about me and my family. What I really want to tell you about is the true talent on my team, and that is ……my horse. Her registered name is, Frosted with Honor, we call her River. She is named after the Spring River Ranch, where I bought her when she was a 2 year old. I took my time and did all her training myself. She is small in stature, only 14.2 hands tall, but the size of her heart…..is im-measurable! River makes my job as her jockey easy. She is smooth to ride and a joy to be around. She is the sweetest horse in our barn and would never think about being naughty. I would not say that River loves running barrels, but she does love pleasing me. She gives me everything she has on every run, simply because I ask her to. It’s very humbling to own a 1200 pound animal that gives you so much and the only thing she wants in return is her dinnerJ. I feel like the good Lord sent her to me and I am grateful to him for every day I get to spend with her. She is not only my team-mate, but also a part of our family.
Rodeo is a an up and down sport. One day you can make a smokin’ run and the next your horse comes up lame. My goal is to stay focused on becoming the best caretaker of the animals the Lord has provided to me. No matter what the 2016 season has to offer us, I look forward to sharing it with you!
Chris and Clare's 2016 Review!
Rodeo is full of highs and lows. The highs are a great feeling. You feel like your on top of the world and can accomplish anything! The lows are horrible and make you want sell all the horses and buy a boat. So how do you keep a positive outlook when your going through one of the low spots? Everyone is different but I wanted to share what has helped me.
In 2015 I won the Super Kicker Rodeo Series. This was a huge success for me. Winning that series was a goal I set a few years ago and I had a huge sense of accomplishment. I was on a rodeo high. I looked forward to 2016 and set some new goals. 2016 started off good. My daughter, Clare, took both of our horses, River and Legs, to our county fair. She placed high in almost all of her classes and won several. She enjoyed the variety of classes and proved that she has become a great all around rider. Our rodeo season started off OK. River was placing but there was just something a bit off with her and I couldn’t quite put my finger on it. In mid July Leg’s started refusing the gate which was a big sign to us that he was not enjoying his job. So off to the vet we went to get our horses checked out.
The prognosis was not what we wanted to hear. River had a suspensory strain and needed a few weeks off. Leg’s had caudal heal pain and needed the rest of the year off. These were not career ending injuries. With rest and treatment we would be riding them again. But on that day when our season was just getting underway, this was heartbreaking news. We could have treated and kept going but in the end we wanted the absolute best possible outcome for our equine partners so time off is what both of them got. Our season was done before we hardly got started.
2016 wasn’t the year I had planned out for me or my daughter. I feel like when I struggle through a low spot this is also where I learn and grow the most. Here are a few key things I have taken away from my 2016 year:
1) Recognize your value outside of the arena.
This is a big thing for me to accept. My self confidence was deeply rooted in how I performed in the arena. If I wasn’t placing, I wasn’t a winner. But this mentality sets us up to feel like a failure. Instead, I found ways to get connected to myself and grow. I seen that I had value regardless of how well I do in the arena.
2) Quality vet care is essential.
Good training has made my horses consistant winners but having them under quality vet care has taken them to the top of their game. I hear a lot of girls say that they can’t afford a vet visit. But vet care is essential to every performance horse. A lot of lameness starts small, you may not even notice it. But your horse will give you signs like refusing the gate, blowing off a barrel or being stiff with their body. Our job is to be listening to our horses and following our gut when we feel they are not 100%. Early detection of issue’s can help us prevent serious injuries in the future.
3) Look for something positive even in a bad situation.
This was my first year on the Cowgirl Dreams Co. team and when all of this was happening I had a little voice in my head tell me that I was letting the team and Robin down by not being out there in the rodeo arena wearing her shirts and promoting her brand. After some thought, I told that little voice to hush up. The year I had was exactly what Cowgirl Dreams Co. is all about. It was a year where I learned more about me. Just because I wasn’t out winning rodeo’s has not stopped me from believing in myself.
If you have people holding you back or that little voice in your own head holding you back….learn how to tell them all to hush up because you have a dream to chase. My hope is that my thoughts will help inspire you to see your self worth and believe your worth the effort of chasing your dreams.