CSRA bullrider, Brandon Mendenhall is relieved he doesn’t have to sneak off to rodeos anymore. At 16, he secretly visited practice pens for a chance […]
On the Trail with Ashlyn Moeder
Written by: Siri Stevens< Back to Articles
Somebody showed up at the Moeder’s front door when Ashlyn was about 7, and said: “Your daughter said you want to buy our horse.” Melinda and Mike, who had never been around horses at all, said ‘no.’ They tried to turn the experience into a life lesson for their daughter. “We had some friends that had a horse and we asked if we could feed the horse and water it through the summer. We thought if she could see how much work and time it took, we’d have this problem fixed. It worked in reverse. She fell in love,” said her mom, Melinda. “We had to learn everything from ground zero. We had some great people helping us.”
Ashlyn started with Western Horsemanship and jumping, competing in barrel racing to give her additional opportunities in the All Around. She entered her first rodeo as a sophomore in high school. “Once I started thriving in the show aspect of things, I wanted a new challenge and I loved rodeo more than showing,” said the 19-year-old from Oakley, Kansas. She competes in barrel racing, goat tying, and breakaway. “It’s been a challenge,” she admits, believing her start in the show world was helpful. “I would have never caught on with the horsemanship part of it. I’ve learned how to train two year olds – I’ve done two now on my own – and am now starting to win on those horses that I’ve trained.”
Her senior year was the year she actually started doing good. “I was giving donations just trying to learn the events,” she said. “I ended up winning the breakaway short go, and was in the top ten. I had finally started climbing up the ladder – nobody knew me.” After graduating, Ashlyn spent a year at Garden City Community College, bringing 18 college credits from high school with her. She completed 50 hours at Garden City in one year and has transferred to Northwestern Oklahoma State University in Alva, Oklahoma, where she will pursue a pre-vet degree and rodeo under Stockton Graves. “The school is really competitive on the rodeo side of things, and has a great ag and science program.” She is leaning towards surgery, and if that doesn’t work out, she will be a large animal vet. “I’ve done dissections since high school and I’ve thrived in any class. I want to help animals and this is the perfect combination.”
This is her second year rodeoing in the KPRA and she is sitting third in the breakaway, first in the barrels, and first in the All Around. “It’s been an eye opener, and competition I’ve never been around,” she said of the KPRA. “There are some big names competing on some tough horses.” Ashlyn has brought a few tough horses of her own to the arenas this summer. Picking from her herd of 15, which includes her now-retired show horses, she has a main barrel horse, Shake, her breakaway horse, Gruilla, and rounding out the pack is CC, her goat tying horse.
She bought Shake from Sabrina Devers. “When I was trying for my first saddle, and Sabrina had this horse, I took him to the junior rodeos and I fell in love with him.” He’s the only horse that has gotten her a check all summer in the barrel racing. Gruilla was used as a reining and working cow horse. “When I started roping, I started learning off of her and she’s been my main breakaway horse.” Learning to rope was a very frustrating experience. “I’d go rope for hours trying to get it right. It didn’t take many years, but it sure took a lot of hard work.” Her goat tying horses is DC, a horse she got from Ty Inlow, who has been instrumental in her success. Ty took her to the next level in the show world, and she would go out to his place and practice day in and day out. “He had me ride several different horses so I’d have the feel for them – he has really been a big part of my life.”
The first horse Ashlyn had was an $800 horse from a sale barn. “He got her started in barrels and he was amazing,” said Melinda. “They thought he was injured is why he was being sold.” Throughout Ashlyn’s horse career, both Mike and Melinda have tried to let God lead. “We’ve always said the horse needed us and we needed him.” Melinda is an accountant, and her dad, Mike, is a farmer and rancher at M3Farms. “We raise Black Angus and Wagyu cattle (a Japanese breed of beef), wheat, milo, and sometimes corn. Ashlyn tries to help when she can, but her rodeo schedule makes that pretty tough.
“Her hard work and determination to succeed in it has been fun to watch,” said Mike. “She has really dug her heels in to go and be the best she can. We’ve mounted her the best we can, but she has to be able to ride.”
“I spent the summer with Sabrina Devers, and she taught me more about training and I will always be grateful to her family for taking me in,” said Ashlyn. “She kept my horse sound the whole summer, teaching me how to do that. I learned how to stretch my horse before races and some tricks with medicines and wrapping so he could travel better.”
The regular season is over and she is sitting first in the barrels by $2,000, third in the breakaway and first in the All Around by $7,000.”
She is still looking for her first saddle, and hopes to accomplish that goal at the KPRA finals. “The rodeo people have become my family. I’m on the road so much, I’m never home. They have all welcomed me with open arms. It’s been awesome. I don’t know where I’d be without it. It’s been such a good part of my life, I’ve met such awesome people.”