“Sheriff’s Office, may I ask who is calling?” Donna Shedeed, 81, said when she answered a call from a strange number this August, though that number happened to be The Team Roping Journal’s office line.
“Just a trick I learned on Facebook for when strange numbers call!” she laughed, her iconic big personality shining through the phone line.
Donna was caught off guard with the interview request, and because of that, wasn’t prepared to rattle off her mile-long list of accomplishments—one that spans decades, events, and skill sets, and has garnered her acclaim from the National Senior Professional Rodeo Association’s Hall of Fame to the Casey Tibbs Foundation’s Rodeo Cowgirl Great Award.
“I’ve always just loved horses,” Donna, the self-proclaimed “Queen of the Tie-On”, said. “My folks were farmers, and I just had a farm team to ride. I wasn’t allowed to ride the fast one, just the slower one.”
From those humble beginnings aboard work horses, Shedeed built a life in rodeo with her husband Bob, who she introduced to the lifestyle when they married some 52 years ago. Bob, who is now 75 and a 4E header, went on to win National Senior Pro Rodeo all-around, ribbon roping, calf roping, and team roping titles—all while Donna and Bob built a business, Shedeed’s Coast-to-Coast hardware store, in Rushville, Nebraska.
The NSPRA welcomed both Bob and Donna into its Hall of Fame in 2008, honoring Donna for her two Ribbon Roping world titles she and Bob won, as well as the three all-around world titles she won in 2001, 2003, and 2005. In 2016, the Casey Tibbs Foundation honored Donna as a “Rodeo Cowgirl Great” for her excellence in the arena and in the community and her contributions to the legacy of rodeo in South Dakota.
Donna and Bob, who raised five children, with 15 grandchildren, and several great grandchildren, are known as leaders in the cowboy-church community, leading services at NSPRA events and at Ty Yost’s Rapid City ropings each September.
“Donna and Bob spent winners on my place in Arizona before I bought it,” Yost said. “I heard they were great people, so they just stayed. We became friends after that. We really enjoy having them lead the service at Rapid City.”
While Donna and Bob have enjoyed rodeoing together throughout their careers, Donna said she found it best that they compete separately.
“We practice together, and he pulls the Heel-O-Matic for me now,” Donna said. “Bob always had great partners, like Dale Woodard. So he didn’t need me! But I do remember, one year, we were at a Senior Rodeo in Rifle, Colorado. And we were sitting up in the stands waiting for them to say who won the All-Around saddle. And Bob went down to see if he’d won, because he thought he had, and it turns out I won it and beat him by five points!”
Donna, who won the WPRA’s Badlands Circuit heeling title as recently as 2011, still trains her own horses and loves to compete in Arizona, where they have called home in the winter months since 1992. They fit in their roping around chasing their grandkids and great grandkids. One grandson, Steven DeWolfe, leads the Indian National Finals Rodeo Tour Standings in the bareback riding, while their granddaughter, Tiffany McGhan, is planning her wedding to Tuf Cooper while on the road with him.