What is your general game plan for Thanksgiving and Christmas with the PRCA and NFR schedules?
Casey and I started dating the year after he qualified for his 3rd consecutive Wrangler NFR. Fortunately, the holiday schedule was fairly easy that year. Although, that is the year I hosted Cowgirl Magazine’s Fashion segment on the Wrangler Network during the WNFR so I flew out for 24 hours, flew home for a day and then flew back with Casey to fulfill endorsement obligations and autograph sessions. For a rough-stock cowboy or a bareback rider like my husband, he always used October-December to “hang out” and heal. During the 3 years of qualifying for the NFR he would go to Waco, Texas for the rodeo the beginning of October, the Rocky Mountain Circuit Finals the end of October and hunt the rest of the time. 2015 is when Casey was out with a severe spinal cord bruise and was told he would never compete again. He was released to ride again that fall. So, from October – December we spent all our time in the gym. Training. Around Thanksgiving we drove to South Texas for Casey to help out during the bareback school AND to get on his first practice horse in a year and a half. In December of 2015 Casey’s his first horse back in a year and a half was at the Boyd Gaming Chute Out Rodeo at the Orleans in Las Vegas. That year was spent preparing for that first one back after his spinal cord injury. Fate would be told. With the amount of time we spent training I’m not sure who was in better shape he or I. Likewise, once we got to Vegas, I’m not sure who was more scared for him to climb on, him or I. Casey missed making the NFR in 2016 by just a couple thousand dollars. Those two great horses he drew in Reno that he had to turnout due to the early arrival of our daughter sure probably would have sealed the deal for a 4th qualification. In October of 2016 when Kingslee was only 3 months old we flew to Waco for the rodeo and we came home and recouped. Kingslee had traveled 4000 miles by the time she was 4 weeks old. As we took her on the 4th of July run with us and to Calgary. Once we returned home in October, we did nothing but hang out until December. We needed the time to live real life and get off the roller coaster for a minute. Just a few days before Christmas we loaded back up and drove through a snow storm to billings Montana for the Chase Hawks Memorial Rough-stock Weekend. They bring NFR stock straight from the NFR and it’s a great rodeo for a great cause. The holidays seem to get drown out a bit when your focus is rodeo. Not because holidays are not special, but because rodeo is a 365 day a year job and focus. It is a sacrifice in all parts of your life when Rodeo is a career. The days that most spend Christmas shopping or going to movies or hanging with hometown friends are not like that for a rodeo family. Not in ours at least. I find sometimes we are worlds apart from normalcy.
What is your favorite Holiday recipe/meal?
Casey and I are both part Italian. My grandmother was full Italian and I grew up eating an authentic Italian meal on Christmas day. Her recipe has been passed down for generations and I make her homemade sauce carefully simmering and stirring for a day and a half. I make her homemade meatballs as well. To add my own twist, I make my own pasta the morning of so we have fresh noodles. I also grate fresh goat cheese.
What is an essential item that you MUST have while traveling during the Holidays and NFR? A good attitude!
There is a LOT going on and you just have to roll with it!
What is your favorite part of the holiday season?
Giving. Without a doubt. Kingslee most certainly receives gifts, but the greatest gift I’ve ever received is the feeling of giving to others. There are so many that spend holidays in sadness for a variation of reasons. Whether they are homeless, they don’t have family, widowed, no children, depressed, death in the family, lost job etc. It’s a time to see how you can make someone else’s holiday better. If I ever teach my daughter anything, I hope its humility and compassion.