South Dakota siblings share horse, win titles

Farm Forum

SPEARFISH, S.D. (AP) — Taylor and Rickie Engesser of Spearfish have won numerous rodeo crowns over the years, including championships at the high school and college levels. That’s only a small part of the relationship the pair shares.

Rickie and Taylor are not only sisters, they’re best friends. They help each other in practices and during competitions, support one another, and cheer for each other, the Black Hills Pioneer reported.

“Without her, I probably wouldn’t have been where I am today,” Rickie said of Taylor. “I wanted to work just as hard as her.”

Taylor said of Rickie, “She’s like my best friend, and I always want to hang out with her. I don’t know what I would do without her.”

Both started riding on bucking riggings at a young age to get the feel for a horse.

Their father Shorty grew up on a ranch and competed in team roping and other events. Their mother Punky videotapes the performances, records times and figures where the riders are in the average.

Taylor and Rickie rode Rowdy to barrel racing titles on the same weekend. Taylor earned the College National Finals Rodeo title on June 21; Rickie clinched the South Dakota high school state title the next day.

At the CNFR, Taylor ran the short go-round in 13.58 seconds. That helped her finish four go-rounds in a total time of 55.78 seconds for the top spot.

Rickie finished her high school finals short go-round in 17.486 seconds. That was good for nine standings points and allowed her to finish with 84 points and the state title.

Taylor and Rickie shared one other common trait that weekend. Both rode the 19-year-old horse Rowdy.

Shorty recalled the draw for their order of competition worked in the family’s favor. Taylor’s go-rounds were Thursday and Saturday night, with Rickie running on Friday night and Saturday morning, as well as Sunday. Punky transported Rowdy on two round trips from Gillette to Belle Fourche during that weekend.

“We were pretty blessed to be able to draw the same horse,” Shorty said. “It would never have worked out otherwise.”

“Rowdy was ready,” Punky said. “He ran tougher as time went on and loved the excitement of the CNFR.”

Rickie and Taylor couldn’t ride Rowdy when he was 5 or 6 years old. The family tried several horses and needed one for barrel racing after they lost a few a couple of years ago.

The Engessers purchased Rowdy 15 years ago and have ridden him in competition for eight years. “He’s been there for a long time; we’ve just never given him the chance,” Taylor said.

Taylor and Rickie started Rowdy on barrels. Their younger brother Jace uses Rowdy to tie goats and compete in roping events. “He’s a pretty easy horse to get along with, and he wants to work,” Taylor said.

That June weekend was the highlight of the season. Taylor traveled to Belle Fourche after her national college championship and saw Rickie win her state high school title.

“It was a really great experience, and I’m really happy that Rowdy did it,” Taylor said. She recalled being speechless and said the experience was exciting and unreal.

Rickie felt a bit nervous before her Sunday go-round. “I knew I couldn’t mess up and had to follow up on her (Taylor),” she said.

Jace Engesser has owned Rowdy since age 6, when Shorty gave the horse to him. “I really like watching my horses do well,” said Jace, who will enter the ninth grade at Spearfish High School this fall.

Training involved riding Rowdy a lot outdoors and using him for different events. Jace said Rowdy is quite laid back for a barrel horse and also praised the versatility.

As for Rowdy’s future, Jace said he could retire at age 22 or 23. Jace can see Rowdy winning a national high school title in barrel racing, and possibly entering the professional ranks.

What life lessons have Taylor and Rickie learned from competing in rodeo?

“You have to have a strong head going in and can’t let the pressure get to you,” Rickie said.

Rickie added that she’s now a better competitor who has practiced harder and can better handle pressure.

“Prioritizing is one of the main things I’ve learned,” Taylor said, adding a person also develops a strong work ethic and increased self-confidence through rodeo.

“I know for sure it motivates me to do better,” Rickie said of Taylor’s success. When Taylor achieves something, Rickie wants to do something just like that.

Taylor was asked about Rickie’s success and said, “I think it’s amazing. She’s done a great job and worked hard at it.”

Taylor attends Gillette College and spends three to four hours a day on rodeo-related activities after classes end. She tries to set priorities and get into a routine.

Rickie will be a junior at Spearfish High School, where she also competes in volleyball and basketball. She works her rodeo schedule around basketball, which is another of her favorite activities.

Taylor plans on earning a nursing degree from Gillette College, going hard in rodeo, and seeing what she can accomplish. She said she would like to win the NFR at the pro level.

Rickie is undecided on her future plans but would like to get ready for the NFR, too. She would like to finish her high school career, compete in college, and then go professional.

Rodeo is an amazing sport to Rickie. “You couldn’t go living without it if you’ve already started it,” she said.

“It’s been a lifelong sport for me that I’ve always enjoyed,” Taylor said. The sport has also helped her become more outgoing, and she appreciates her parents’ support.

Rickie said her parents Shorty and Punky prepare horses for practices. Everyone tries to make each other better.

“It’s fun to attend rodeos as a family,” Taylor said.

Punky faces a bit of anxiety while watching Rickie or Taylor make a run, adding she wants things to be clean. Shorty stays calm while this happens, according to Punky.

“They work hard,” Punky said of the children. “All three kids support one another, and they love it. Wonderful relationships form.”

Punky said Rickie and Taylor want to compete together for one more year.

“You learn to be a good winner and a good loser,” Shorty said of rodeo. He added riders become better competitors and learn how to finish once they reach the finals. And it seems the Engessers have a horse that’s ready to go as far the family wants to take him.