Cougar Cowgirl: Join Josie Goodrich on her rodeo journey

Josie Goodrich represents WSU in barrel racing, breakaway roping; she will compete in Cowboy Christmas this week



Josie Goodrich competes in Hermiston, Ore., at the last collegiate rodeo of the year, earning one of the top three spots in the Northwest Region for the College National Finals rodeo on April 30.

JOSIE GOODRICH, Reporter/Copy Editor

As rain poured profusely for hours on end and the arena turned from dirt to standing water, I did what I knew how to do best and clocked myself in for my second National Finals College Rodeo in Casper, Wyo.

My name is Josie Goodrich, and I am a junior here at good ole’ WSU, double-majoring in criminal justice and multimedia journalism. I am also a member of the Kappa Delta Sorority.

However, before any of those other labels, I like to label myself as a cowgirl. I grew up on a ranch in small-town Stanfield, Ore., and have known nothing but the sport of rodeo my entire upbringing. 

I rodeoed in junior high and high school, but I took a little break my sophomore year to focus on basketball. Sadly, I tore my ACL and was done with that.

However, I decided to swing a leg over my horse again my senior year and ended up winning a state title in barrel racing on my main man, Keeper. 

My horse Keeper has taken me across the country, and I owe that big guy everything. Keeper is a big part of my success and the reason I competitively rodeo again, so he will have his own spotlight story soon. 

Now, I college rodeo for the Northwest region of the National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association, representing WSU in the barrel racing and breakaway roping and I have made it to the College National Finals the last two years.

For those of you who do not know much about the sport, barrel racing is where there are three barrels set in a clover leaf pattern, and the fastest horse and rider duo to go around the three barrels wins. Explaining it makes me sound like a weird horse girl, but I promise I am not. 

Breakaway roping is a little more complex to explain. A calf is placed in a chute, and I sit a little behind the chute on my horse, Ruby. When I nod my head, the calf is released, and then I chase after it and rope it. Just like barrel racing, the fastest time wins.

I just finished the College National Finals in Casper, and I am anxious to get the ball rolling for this summer and next year’s collegiate season. In the third round of barrel racing in the finals, I knocked over a barrel. If I had not, I would have earned the seventh-fastest time and had a shot at making it back to the final round. 

For every barrel knocked over, five seconds are added to your time, and it is impossible to recover from. Regardless, knowing my horse was able to do that against some extremely respectable horses from other, tougher regions was pretty special.

Alongside collegiate rodeoing, I professionally rodeo for the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association, and the summer run is in full swing. 

I started rodeoing professionally the second I turned 18, and I travel and compete with my parents, who are in their mid 50’s and still kick all the young’uns’ butts. 

As the summer takes off, my goal is to make the Columbia River Circuit Finals, the final rodeo for the top 12 competitors from my region — Oregon, Washington, parts of Idaho and Montana — at the end of October. To be able to do that my rookie year would be pretty special, but it will not be easy.

The top 12 are decided by how much money each person won throughout the season, which is also the selling point for us competitors. We compete for money, and there is a lot of money to be won. With how much diesel costs now, I better get my winning streak on a roll. 

The weekend after I got home from Casper, I headed to Prineville, Ore., Meridian, Idaho, and Newport for a full weekend of rodeoing. I was fortunate enough to win a check in both the barrels and breakaway in Meridian, and I got a nice little breakaway check in Newport as well.

This week is Cowboy Christmas, where some of the biggest rodeos are held nonstop across the country, starting the weekend of Independence Day. 

Tonight I am competing in St. Paul, Ore., then I compete in La Pine, Ore. on Saturday morning. I then travel to Toppenish Saturday night and finish the weekend in Sedro-Woolley on Sunday night. 

I planned my rodeos to have Independence Day off. On Tuesday, I will head to Big Fork, Mont., and then back to Elgin, Ore., and Cheney next weekend.

Rodeo is not for the weak or the faint of the heart, I can promise you that. Most of the time it seems as if more time is spent driving than actually competing — and I cannot think of a faster way to lose money — but I would never wish to live any other life. 

I am anxious for the Independence Day run to kickoff, and I hope I can come back and tell you all some good news. I look forward to bringing you along my rodeo journey this summer and showing you the life of a cowgirl!