BILLINGS — Shelby Rasmussen always carries a little extra with her into the arena.
But instead of viewing it as a burden, she carries it as a banner.
The Rasmussen name is well known in the state of Montana and beyond. Her father, Flint, is the popular entertainer for the Professional Bull Riders, while her mother, Katie, is a well-respected horse trainer and barrel racer in her own right.
An uncle, Will, is also a well-known announcer, while her grandparents, Stan and Tootie, have been heavily involved in rodeo for decades.
“I think there is extra pressure to live up to the name,” said the 18-year-old from Choteau of being in the spotlight. “I know people are going to talk about me. It’s kind of a motivator to make a name for yourself.”
The well-spoken freshman at Montana State University is certainly doing that.
Rasmussen, along with her mother, competed in the barrel racing Thursday night in the first performance of the PRCA NILE Rodeo.
The rodeo continues with 7 p.m. performances on Friday and Saturday. Friday is “Tough Enough to Wear Pink,” night, while Saturday is Patriot Night.
The NILE is celebrating its 50th anniversary. The first NILE rodeo was in 1975.
Rasmussen posted a time of 14.73 seconds, not fast enough to place, but showed she can definitely compete at the next level.
Rasmussen has won year-end high school titles in breakaway roping and the all-around. Last October, she swept the breakaway roping, barrel racing and all-around titles for the Northern Women’s Rodeo Association as a home-schooled high school senior.
“I tell her that eyes are always on you,” said Katie Rasmussen. “I’m proud the way she carries herself. She does everything with dignity.
“I’m most proud of her the way she carries herself when things don’t go well.”
Rodeo has been part of Shelby Rasmusssen’s life for as long as she can remember.
“My earliest memory was when my dad was rodeoing hard. I was probably around three,” she said. “We lived in a motor home all summer.”
Even then, she liked to race.
“My fondest memory is I had a best friend Kenna Kaminski (daughter of world champion barrel racer Kelly Kaminski,” Rasmussen continued. “We barrel raced all the time. On foot, with stick horses. We had all sorts of barrel races. And I took my rocking horse everywhere.
“I just love the people and the atmosphere of rodeo. I wouldn’t want to spend my life around anything else.”
And Rasmussen has discovered she is more than just a competitor.
“I just as happy training horses as competing,” she said. “There is something about getting an animal to follow your command. With every bit of progression, there is a sense of accomplishment.”
She rode Lucy on Thursday, a home-grown horse trained by Shelby and her mother.
Rasmusssen is currently competing in barrel racing, breakaway roping and goat tying for the Bobcats. “I like to rope as well,” she said. “I love college. It’s awesome being part of the team.”
Rasmussen recently changed her major from equine science to accounting. “I’ve always liked math … the structure.
“My focus is college rodeo. You can only do that once in your life. Then move on to professional rodeo.”
In other events:
Jessy Davis of Power went 80 points to lead the bareback riding, while Canadian Clay Elliott was 86 in saddle bronc. There were no qualified bull riders with the exception of Ashland’s Bo Vocu in the High School Showcase.
Former National Finals Rodeo qualifiers Matt Shiozawa and Brad Goodrich are 1-2 in tie-down roping after posting time of 9.0 and 9.2 seconds, respectively. Helena’s Travis Nichols and Kory Mytty moved into third place in team roping with a time of 7.2 seconds, while Rene Cloninger was 14.41 seconds in barrel racing to be fourth. Cameron Morman was 4.6 in steer wrestling.