Sissy Rieken has had a standout year. In June, she topped the 2015 Reno Rodeo Invitational Ladies Only with Jessy Remsberg, Boligee, Ala., to pocket $33,875. Most recently, she won the WSTR Super #11 qualifier in Hamilton with World Champion Bull Rider Mike White, De Kalb, Texas, to take home $26,350. The Arp, Texas, cowgirl has finished in the top three spots in more than a half-dozen qualifiers throughout the year to amass more than $37,000 in WSTR earnings alone.
When Rieken and Remsburg finished fourth in the first round at the Reno Rodeo Invitational Rieken donated her half—$3,000—to the Nevada Military Support Alliance (NMSA), which recognizes and supports the men and women of Nevada’s armed forces, veterans and their families.
“I’m a Christian, so whatever money I have is God’s money,” said Rieken, who lives in Arp, with her husband, Rowdy, and their 14-year-old son, Riley. “We give 10 percent of everything we win to something—to charity, a church or somebody.”
While Rieken has been roping—and winning—all of her life, this year’s wins have been especially meaningful as they’ve all come aboard a homegrown bay horse they call “Stump.” Registered Starmans Last Pistol by CC Star Man out of Hoys Gray Princess, Stump has a special place in the Rieken family.
“He was orphaned when he was only five weeks old. We found his momma shot in our pasture,” Rieken explained. “We never found out what happened.”
Behind the Horsepower
At 14.2 hands the 13-year-old bay has come a long way from his feeble beginnings.
“If you see the picture of Stump when we got him registered, he looked like a poor little orphan,” said Rieken. “We broke him at 4 years old because of his size. He got sent to a feedlot out by Amarillo as a 6-year-old and then my husband trained him. We didn’t start roping on him until he was 8.”
Rowdy spent a lot of time on Stump, eventually taking him to amateur and ProRodeos, mainly heeling on him, over the last several years. When their son, Riley, was 10 years old he learned to rope on the gentle-minded gelding.
“From the beginning he was easily trainable and always wanted to please you,” said Sissy. “He’s the kind of horse that when you go out to the pasture he’s coming up to see if you have something for him. He loves to be scratched.”
But most importantly, Stump has wicked skills to back up his lovable personality.
“He is quick across the line and he’s quick-footed,” said Rieken. “When he leaves the box he leaves low and he’s smooth to ride. He rates, he runs hard. He’s just an awesome horse.”
World Series Showing
While he’s been a part of Rieken family for more than a decade, Sissy really just got her chance to shine on Stump this year.
“He’s still a little too much for my son and I think he just fits me better than he does my husband,” she said. “At the World Series in Graham (Texas) I won first in the #13 and second in the #12 on him. I kind of got my confidence built up. After that we went to Reno and since then we’ve just clicked.”
In 2013, Rowdy roped both ends riding Stump at Finale VIII but this year it will be Sissy backing him in the box at the South Point.
“I will definitely be taking him to Vegas this year,” said Rieken. “The short score is better for him, that’s where he really excels.”
The Riekens still own Stump’s sire, the gray stud horse, CC Star Man, and have more of his horsepower waiting in the wings.
“We’re still breeding him,” Rieken said. “In fact, I’ve got a three-quarters brother to Stump that’s a 3-year-old now, and I’m really excited about him.”
Rowdy is currently riding another one of his offspring at the jackpots—a black gelding they call Cash. And Cole Wheeler, Flint, Texas, also rides a horse by Star Man.
“That’s probably one of the best horses we’ve bred,” she said. “I know Cole has won a lot on that horse.”
Star Man got his turn in the arena too.
“I used to ride him at all the World Series, but I finally had to retire him. Stump is just like his dad and I think that’s part of why he fits me so well.”
Although the uber-talented gelding is an easy keeper all the way around, Rieken gives kudos to those who help keep him at his peak performance level including Heather Benson at Simply Equine and Dr. Rob Thoni, DVM, in Kilgore, Texas.
Ultimately, Rieken is quick to give all the credit to the orphaned foal that is now dominating the amateur team roping world.
“I don’t do anything but rope,” she said. “He does all the work. Everything is automatic with him. I have had offers to buy Stump, but he will never be for sale. The two horses, him and his daddy, they will never leave the Rieken Ranch.”
Photos by Allens Rodeo Photos