Point, Ore.-Not that long ago, no one in the WPRA ranks
in the Columbia River Circuit knew Kym La Roche. After
just two rodeos, that has changed.
La Roche, a resident of Arlington,
Wash., just north of Seattle, got talked into buying
a WPRA permit by a group of her friends after she began
having success with her horse, Miss April Dual, at some
maturities and regional rodeos this spring.
"I bought my mare from Della
Wright on May 8, 2009. Della did a great job training
her and I started running her at some of the maturities
around here this spring. The mare just really blossomed
at those events and my girlfriends talked me into trying
out the WPRA," says La Roche.
La Roche did not take the typical
route to the ranks of professional rodeo with the WPRA.
She says that she and her husband were given a horse
not long after they were married to pay a debt. It was
her first horse. That "freebie" started both
she and husband Allan riding and eventually, their daughter
Jordan as well.
One horse led to another, as is
so often the case, and Kym and Jordan began trying their
hand at gaming-patterned speed events. When Jordan was
a sophomore in high school, the pair joined the Washington
Barrel Horse Association. Kym decided that her daughter
had been working so hard at barrel racing that she deserved
a better horse so she sold the horse they were running
with the intent to buy them each a newer one.
"I went through 12 horses looking
for one as good as the one we sold!" Kym laughs.
Jordan married a professional reiner and continues to
compete in that discipline while Kym finally found her
next barrel horse in the now 6-year old Pickle.
Kym's first foray into pro rodeo
came at Coulee City, Wash., on May 29-30. Traveling
with friends, La Roche decided to enter a couple of
regional rodeos prior to competing in Coulee City.
"It was very funny," she
says. "We went to two ammies and didn't do so good.
We aren't used to outdoor pens so much and rodeos either.
At the second one, Dayton, I got behind going to the
second barrel but ended up one out of the money."
Tackling the rodeo road head on,
La Roche and friends packed up at 1:30 a.m. when the
slack finished and headed for 8 a.m. slack the next
morning in Coulee City.
"We got there about 5:15 in
the morning," La Roche says, adding that her friends
drove so she could try to sleep a bit in the back seat
of the truck. "Slack was at 8 a.m. and I don't
know anything about pro rodeo slack so I was up and
ready way too early."
After watching some of the other
competitors have trouble with the ground, La Roche made
a veteran decision.
"My horse works in all types
of ground, so I just sent her out there and trusted
her to handle it," she says. "I thought, I
need to ride the same way I always do."
The plan was perfection as the pair
posted a 16.34-second run. Not only did that time hold
out to win the rodeo over the likes of NFR qualifiers
Brenda Mays and Amy (Dale) Coehlo, but she bested them
by nearly three tenths of a second. The win was worth
$783 and when added to a little bit of money won at
co-sanctioned events, was enough for La Roche to fill
For anyone who was thinking, "beginner's
luck," La Roche and Pickle traveled to Central
Point, Ore., on June 3-5 and finished third behind Mays
and Nellie Williams, currently ranked in the top 10.
Because she bought her card on Friday before the rodeo,
the $1,354 check she won counts towards the circuit
"My new goal is to make the
circuit finals," she laughs. "The first goal
was to fill my permit and I thought it might take me
all year to get it done."
La Roche has a new hauling partner
in Wright, whose horse is just coming off an injury
suffered just a week after she sold Pickle to La Roche.
The duo is headed to Sisters, Union, Prineville, and
"I am very excited," La
La Roche, who is an Operations Manager
for a group of retired superior and supreme court judges
in downtown Seattle, says that her employers have given
her lots of vacation time that she is going to use to
rodeo this summer. Thanking her husband as her number
one supporter, La Roche is hoping that her great start
will continue. She is currently ranked amongst the leaders
of the Columbia River Circuit,
"We started off with a bang
and it's like a dream for me. I am afraid someone is
going to pinch me and I'll wake up!"