Submitted By: Gwendena Realbird, White Mountain Apache Tribe
Women of rodeo have a passion to ride, courage to compete, and endurance to see things through even when everything seems stacked against them. The bonds they share with their horses extend past competition. True Grit, Style, and determination is the recipe required to form the spirit of a cowgirl.
One local cowgirl, Chelsey Dale, with her athleticism, talent and speed has graced the International Indian Finals Rodeo in Farmington, New Mexico and has brought home the All Around World Champion title with her competing in barrel racing and break away roping.
Chelsey hails from 7 mile community on the White Mountain Apache Reservation. A first generation college student in her family, and a member of a college rodeo team in Coolidge. Currently a full-time student in college with aspirations to be a Nurse some day.
In her spare time, you can find Chelsey making yeast rolls for her family and friends, or playing Softball with her friends. No stranger to rodeo, she comes from a long line of cowboys in her family. Her grandfather, Terry Dale, of Cibecue, Arizona is known for his bull riding and bareback riding days in the rodeo arena, and no stranger to winning. Chelsey fondly remembers his winning in Masters Rodeos, and on his last ride he won a buckle. He still cowboys, branding, selling cattle and mending fences and handling round ups as much as he can, and is a member of the WMAT Cattle Association, and works for the Carrizo area. Her grandpa will invite Chelsey along for the chores on some days, and that helps keep her perspective on hard work in mind, and the time it takes to take care of horses, cattle and the range. Chelsey’s father, Herbert Dale is also a roper and has taught Chelsey the proper etiquette in horse care, and riding, roping etc., She is mindful of her Father’s counsel “Every day is a new day, whatever happened yesterday is long gone” and her Mom Lisa Dale’s words of “Prayers go a long way”. A new day is here, and a new world champion arrives.
This is Chelsey’s second buckle, and she’s been participating in rodeos for many years. It took many tries to get a second buckle, and the passion she has for the sport is what keeps her going. She says practice practice practice is what helps her alot.
Through it all, she has two special people to thank, her back bone, her everything and ones who shaped her into the person she is today. Their support means everything to her, and that’s her parents. They are the ones who bought her her two horses, and these are the horses who helped her win the All Around title. She is thankful they have been so supportive, and she is lucky to have such great parents, and says “I love them for everything they have done for me”.
“Throughout the rodeo I always kept praying and asking God to help me keep calm and help my horses do their best and protect us, just simple prayers to help me keep calm knowing God was there with me and I always thank God for everything he has blessed me with. Without God and faith I have in him, I wouldn’t have made it this far”.
Advice she has for other youth who aspire to rodeo, or have their mind set on a goal “When you set your mind to accomplish a specific goal, it can be done. Don’t give up on your goals. There is always room for improvement. Believe in yourself. Believe you can accomplish what you set your mind to, then eventually that goal will come. But remember, it takes hard work. If your willing to give it your all then it will definitely pay off I can guarantee your goal will be met”.
For a young lady who has never won an All-Around title in a rodeo finals, she recalls going to the IIFR in 2013 and coming back empty handed, but that didn’t stop her. She is mindful of her parents gentle reminders before each rodeo “try your best” and their encouragement helps alot and she gives it her 110%. This time that 110% paid off and she is now your International Indian Finals World Champion All Around winner. What an honor for herself, her community, her family and her Tribe.
Chelsey would like to thank her sponsors who helped her in this IIFR event and would like to take this time to wish you all a joyous New Year. With a prayer in heart, and a humble attitude, this cowgirl will surely have many more good days in the arena of life and the arena of Rodeo. Congratulations cowgirl