Riata Ranch Cowboy Girls to bring trick riding and roping act to Dixie Roundup Rodeo

A Riata Ranch Cowboy Girls member performs during a rodeo in Cheyenne, Wyo., July 2018 | Photo courtesy of Riata Ranch Cowboy Girls, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — The Riata Ranch Cowboy Girls will bring their entertaining trick riding and trick roping act to this year’s St. George Lions Dixie Roundup Rodeo.

L-R: Riata Ranch Cowboy Girls members Anna Estill, Kirby McQueen, Bailey Jean Gabel, Bec Circosta, Sarah Thompson and Jennifer Nicholson | Photo courtesy of Riata Ranch Cowboy Girls, St. George News

The popular rodeo, now in its 84th year, will take place Sept. 13-15 at the historic Dixie Sunbowl in downtown St. George.

Riata Ranch Cowboy Girls member Bec Circosta, who is from Australia, told St. George News this will be the first time the internationally known group has performed in the St. George area.

“We are super excited to have this opportunity,” Circosta said. She will be joined by four other Riata Ranch riders: Sarah Thompson, Kirby McQueen, Bailey Gabel and Jennifer Nicholson. Nicholson, the group’s executive director, has been part of Riata Ranch for more than 40 years, ever since she was 11. Gabel, currently the youngest rider, is 18 years old but already has four years’ experience with the group, which is based in Three Rivers, California.

Riata Ranch Cowboy Girls have performed in rodeos and other events worldwide, with appearances in 20 countries on five continents. One of their most noteworthy performances came in 2012 in Great Britain, when they performed at Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee event celebrating the monarch’s 60th year on the throne.

The Riata Ranch group has performed at the National Finals Rodeo five times, in addition to appearances in many other major rodeos, including in cities such as Cheyenne, Wyoming; Reno, Nevada; Pendleton, Oregon; Salinas, California; and Dodge City, Kansas. They have also been featured in football game halftime shows.

Circosta says the group will be providing in-show entertainment all three nights of the Dixie Roundup Rodeo, with their repertoire being divided into three main categories: trick riding, trick roping and a liberty horse act.

Circosta says the trick riding is her personal favorite, citing the high level intensity it generates.

“It looks dangerous but it’s not supposed to be dangerous,” she said. “But yeah, for me personally, I just love the energy that I get from the crowd.”

Riata Ranch Cowboy Girls member Kirby McQueen performs a hippodrome stand, date and location not specified | Photo courtesy of Riata Ranch Cowboy Girls, St. George News

Some of the tricks the group members typically perform include a doing a hippodrome stand atop the saddle while spinning a lasso rope around oneself “wedding ring” style, making vaults (jumping on and off a galloping horse) and executing strap tricks that involve dangling from the stirrups in various positions.

Circosta says the group will be bringing their own trained horses with them, including a “liberty horse” called California, who has been specially trained by Thompson to obey commands without a rider or any other means of physical control.

“What you’ll see is, he’ll run out to (Thompson) and he’ll lay down and rear up on cues,” Circosta said. “I think it’s a really special piece. The crowd gets engaged in that aspect of the show, which shows a really special moment that they share, a beautiful bond between woman and horse.”

Written by JEFF RICHARDS.

• S P O N S O R E D   C O N T E N T •

Event details

  • What: 84th annual St. George Lions Dixie Roundup Rodeo.
  • When: Sept. 13-15. Gates open at 6 p.m. The rodeo is 7:30-11 p.m.
  • Where: Dixie Sunbowl, 150 S. 400 East, St. George.
  • Tickets: General admission for adults is $12 or $5 for children under 11. Tickets are available each weekday from Sept. 10-15 at the Lions Building north of the Sunbowl. You can also buy tickets by calling 435-673-3301.
  • More details on the Dixie Roundup can be found online.
  • For more information about Riata Ranch Cowboy Girls, visit the group’s website.

Email: jrichards@stgnews.com

Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2018, all rights reserved.

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