On The Trail with Red Top Ranch Trick Riding School

by Siri Stevens

Red Top Ranch Trick Riding school celebrated its 30th years at the Vold Ranch in Avondale, Colorado, this past March. Taught by Karen Vold and Linda Scholtz, a total of 28 students attended one of the four schools. Students traveled from Alaska, Oklahoma, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and New York and several other states to attend the three day school.

Karen learned how to trick ride when she was young, “I learned from a lady that worked for us at the riding stables. I trick rode for a living from 14 to 27, when I went to work for Harry,” said Karen. “When I started going on the road, I didn’t have time to do it, so I started teaching.”
Linda came to work for Karen when Karen and Harry’s daughter, Kirsten, was 5. She and her husband, Paul, did the church services and Linda taught Sunday school. She learned to trick ride from Karen in 1978. “I was watching Karen teach Kirsten and I’d never seen it before. I wondered what it was.” Karen told her that she would teach them both. That went on for a year before Linda decided to ride professionally and she got her card in 1980. She and Paul took off for 27 years, part of the All American Trick Riders (Vickie Tyer and Lori Orman). “I fell in love with it,” said Linda. She and Paul continued their ministry at rodeos all over the country.


Warming up. - Rodeo News
Rubie Sturgeon has been preparing for the school since the middle of February. “I worked out every night. Pullup planks, push ups, and sit ups.” She can do 32 situps in less than a minute and she does yoga too. The 11-year-old from Pittsburg, Penn., believes she is the only one that does trick riding in her area. She is also involved in Equestrian vaulting – Perfect Impulse – they meet every Sunday. “We go to competitions in Virginia and Tennessee.” She likes trick riding because there’s more freedom in it. - Rodeo News
Cory Young ponies Ashtyn Walter from Loveland, Texas. - Rodeo News

Linda rode with the All American Trick Riders for 14 years, and during that time someone wanted a lesson. “We started with one lesson in 1987. After that it started rolling along. It started with one weekend,” said Linda. “When we became an official school, we did them for a week. We coordinated it with the local spring break. We advertised a little and it snowballed from there.”

Many of the staff were former students; one from Scotland, who came as a student, is still coming over once a year to rekindle friendships and teach the next generation. Lorna Campbell, from Trinty Gask in Scotland, came ten years ago. “I used to do vaulting and I was too old, and I’d seen it and it looked fun. I ended up getting a couple horses at home and continued.” She shows her talents at Agricultrual shows and Highland games. Unfortunately rodeo is illegal in Scotland, so she isn’t able to trick ride at those events.” Now the clinical trial monitor takes almost a month off to come over and visit and help train the next generation of trick riders. One of her trick riding friends, Mellissa Pfaff, from Broomfield, Colorado, started coming to the class when she was 15.

Mellissa has a BA, four Masters degrees and is midway through her PhD in Education. She teaches high school science and takes time out of her schedule to come every weekend and help. After learning the art, Mellissa went and trick rode all over the country and ended up working for Cavalia for a year and a half. “We worked all over the Us and Canada. “I keep coming back because I love teaching and Linda and Karen changed my life – I’m a better person – trick riding has led me to everywhere I’ve been in my life. It’s a part of my identity.”


Karen Vold and Linda Scholtz with the cake that was brought to celebrate the occasion.
Cory Young, from Belton, Missouri, Lorna Campbell, from Trinty Gask in Scotland, and Aaron and Isaac Johnson – brothers. Cory Young has been a pony person for five years, but has worked with Linda for 18 years. He and Aaron and Isaac went to the trick riding competition in 2016 in Las Vegas. “Isaac and I competed in the individual performances,” said Aaron, who placed third and Isaac placed fourth. “Everything I know about horses I learned from Linda and Karen.” Cory went along for support, much like the rodeo minister does at the schools. - Rodeo News
Wyollah Moses, from Keenesburg, Colorado, came to this school for the second time. “I came here last year and had a lot of fun and wanted to come back and learn more – once I get better, I want to perform professionally. My dad is working on a horse for me right now.” The 14 year old has a whole workout routine on her mirror. She hopes to start colts and trick ride when she grows up. “I work at a riding stable in Brighton – cleaning pens, helping the kids, cleaning the tack.” She works so she could buy a trick riding saddle. - Rodeo News

The school is open to anyone seven years old and up and any level of experience. “We’ve had students as old 0as 48,” said Linda. “In the past, we’ve had several mothers who gave it a try.”

“It’s harder than it looks,” said Karen. “But by the end of every school, everyone has mastered at least one trick. “We have people from Wisconsin who say this is the best vacation we had as a family.”

Bob Brenner, from Pikes Peak Saddlery, comes one day during the school to help with straps and whatever the students need for the saddles, which belong to Karen and Linda. Linda brought all the horses.

The staff consists of Aaron and Isaac Johnson – brothers. Mellissa and her sister, Mimi, and Lorna, Cory Young, Aaron and Isaac’s mother, Debbie, is one of the cooks, along with Karen’s lifelong friends, Bobbie Fritz. Gail Shivelry also helps in the kitchen along with Cindy Robinson.
“We started this in the first place so the art wouldn’t die, and we’re still doing it,” said Karen. “We have really and truly a fabulous staff and they come back every year. I don’t know why they keep coming. Cory finds ways to share the Word through the avenue of trick riding. “We always have a church service at the last day of the school – It’s shocking when you see students that you had and they introduce you to their kids. It’s hard to imagine it’s been that many years.”

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