Back When They Bucked: Karen Vold

by Siri Stevens

Karen performing the full shoulder stand - Courtesy the family

“We were blessed to rodeo in the best of times,” said Karen Vold, who began her trick riding career at the age of ten. Karen prefers to be in the background. She spends her days helping her husband, Harry, and daughter, Kirsten, run the Harry Vold Rodeo Company  located near Fowler, Colo. Karen can be found cleaning chaps, rolling flags, or working on a wardrobe for pick-up men.Karen as a child - courtesy the family
She got her start in the rodeo business at a young age. Her family owned a riding stables on the north edge of Phoenix and she would guide people out in the desert to ride. There was a lady that worked at the stables who had a palomino horse and a trick riding saddle. She taught Karen her first three tricks. Karen performed at a professional rodeo for the first time when she was 14. 17 years later she continued the tradition by putting on trick riding schools for 27 years, completing the most recent one in March of this year – 2015.
“My parents were divorced when I was eight. I was the oldest daughter and had a hard time with the divorce so they bought me a horse and a saddle to get my mind off it. The stables were located next to the Arizona Canal and we had 60 acres of commercial citrus and our house was the last thing before many miles of desert. I practiced next to this canal which was like a big long straightaway. My Dad was the chairman of the Phoenix Jaycee Rodeo for three years and the horse he bought me was part of a roman riding team that jumped a car and was also broke for trick riding. The horse refused the car a few times so they sold him to my Dad for me to trick ride on. I was ten.”
About the same time as her parents’ divorce, Jasbo Fulkerson, one of the rodeo clowns her dad had hired several times to work the Phoenix rodeo was killed on his way home from a rodeo. They had been close friends and were built physically alike so Karen’s dad took off from his construction business and teamed up with Jasbo’s partner to rodeo for six years. Karen stayed in Arizona with her Mom. “When he came back and saw how serious I was about trick

riding, he sent me to Colorado to take lessons from world champion trick rider Dick Griffith. In the early days, trick riding was a competition like five other events. Dick was the world champion trick rider and bull rider and my Dad wanted me to master the full shoulder stand that Dick performed when he worked with him at Madison Square Garden in New York City. It was very hard to learn – you have to face front – not the side – and dive over the saddle horn. I drove to Colorado when I was 18 with a horse trailer and my girlfriend. Dick had a few other students there. I only knew

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