story by Lindsay Humphrey “I’m not much of a planner,” said Ryan Bestol of his storied rodeo career so far. “When I get something in […]
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Meet the Member: Andrea Christensen
story by Lily Weinacht
“Rodeo is a commitment – you have to follow your dreams,” says Andrea Christensen. “It’s something you want to conquer!” The 42-year-old barrel racer from St. Paul, Neb., set about conquering her rodeo dreams 20 years ago after growing up working on feedlots. Her dad and grandpa sold horses to the cavalry in the 1940s and ‘50s, and Andrea still has their record books and cancelled checks. “That’s how our family got into horses. Eventually, my dad sold the cattle and kept the horses. My siblings and I did 4-H, but the pleasure thing was not for me – I wanted to go out and rope and check cows,” Andrea recalls. “So I started doing my own thing!” She’d spent enough time on rodeo bleachers to know the arena was really where she belonged, so Andrea stepped into the sport and came out with a lifestyle.
She started out roping, but when Andrea couldn’t find anyone in the area to team rope with, she switched to barrel racing, competing in the NSRA, M-SRA, and KPRA. “I’ve looked up to Dori Hollenbeck and Lorie Cline for a long time, and the one who keeps me going is my daughter, Alexis. She barrel races and we haul together with Lorie Cline. My grandson, Reno, is three, and he wants to be Lane Frost,” Andrea says with a laugh. “He likes to steal our rodeo buckles – right now he wears his grandpa Randy Rhone’s.” Reno ropes the dummy with his mom, Alexis, and dad, Riley Rhone, and rides a pony named Dixieland. “I love to see the kids in rodeo growing up, and I want to see them prosper,” says Andrea. “It’s a great family experience!”
The other half of Andrea’s family are her horses, Lou and Dash. Lou E Ville Slugger – best known as Lou after Andrea’s late mother – lost an eye in 2015 after being struck by a stray BB pellet. “It was awful at first!” says Andrea. “We might be having a winning run, and she’d stop completely at the third barrel by a chute because she couldn’t see. But I kept seasoning her, and by the end of the year, she was clocking with the big dogs. I hope this year will be the same.” Andrea got Lou for free as a five-month-old filly, and the pair have been together the last eight years. Her backup horse is Dash, who’s especially good in muddy pens and places Lou isn’t as suited to.
If she’s not running to the next barrel, Andrea is on horseback working at a feedlot owned by her sister and brother-in-law, Kelly and Don Proyer. “They put on high school cutting shows and train cutting horses, plus they have a feedlot, so that keeps me busy. They’re really generous with letting me take off for rodeos, because that’s my passion. Rodeo’s one of the biggest things in my life, and if I couldn’t do it, it would be heart crunching!” Any extra time Andrea uses to spend with her daughter and grandson, who live an hour away. They’ll be moving to Kansas, however, and Andrea will be packing her own boxes this summer to move closer to work.
“I’m making my goal to take Lou to the NSRA finals this year,” says Andrea. “Rodeo is better than going to a movie. You walk in, and right away you have people coming to say hi and sit and laugh with you, and talk about how the week went. I’ve been on the rodeo circuit from way back, and it’s good people, good family, and good fun!”