A pee wee three-peat: 8-year-old Alexis Vreeman rides high in Steamboat rodeo finale
2017 Steamboat Springs Pro Rodeo season champions All-around: Cole Dorenkamp, Lamar
Bareback: Ben Hall, Tumbarumba, Australia
Saddle bronc: Tyler Turco, Franktown
Bull riding: Brett Custer, Elk City, Oklahoma
Permit bull riding: Cordell Curtis, Monte Vista
Tie down roping: Cy Eames, Gooding, Idaho
Steer wrestling: Beau Clark, Cheyenne, Wyoming
Team roping, header: Clayton Van Aken, Descanso, California
Team roping, heeler: Cullen Teller, Fort Collins
Barrel racing: Stacey Smallwood, Laramie, Wyoming
Regional team roping: Joe Wood, Meeker
Pee week barrel racing: Alexis Vreeman, Steamboat Springs
Junior barrel racing: Cylee Dunsmore, Meeker
Alexis Vreeman is only 8 years old, and rodeo is already a major part of her life.
She races with her horse, GVG — that, appropriately, stands for Go, Vreeman, Go! — three times most weeks, at a gymkhana event in Craig, at a rodeo in Meeker and, Saturday nights, under the bright lights at the pro rodeo in downtown Steamboat Springs.
GVG runs well at all of them, Alexis said, but he’s never quite as fast and she’s never quite as sharp as she is in Steamboat during the pee-wee barrel racing event, and Saturday, Alexis and GVG put the finishing touches on a tremendous string of races.
The pair won the event for the ninth time this season — they didn’t race in their only other opportunity. That streak ensured they’d win the season-long championship for the third consecutive year.
Alexis and GVG, from Steamboat Springs, have represented the gold standard in the event since she was only 5 years old.
“I just love riding my horse,” she said after the rodeo.
Her father, Joel Vreeman, stood nearby with the season championship belt buckle that will join two others at home. Alexis, meanwhile, slipped GVG a honey and oats granola bar, a special treat after a special run.
“He’s my best friend,” she said.
She’s been riding since she was 4 years old, tutored largely by her rodeoing aunt, Jewell Vreeman. Her parents, meanwhile, try their best to keep nerves in check.
“As a parent, you’re just standing there shaking. It’s a little tiny girl on a huge horse, and they’re going pretty fast,” Joel Vreeman said. “It’s definitely a little scary for me, but she really likes the horse, and it’s a good horse, so that really makes a difference.”
The run may not be over for Alexis, either. She has one more year of riding in the pee wee division before she’ll advance to juniors.
Alexis was only one of 13 cowboys and cowgirls to walk away from Romick Rodeo Arena with a season championship belt buckle, though she was the only hometown rider to earn such an honor.
Elsewhere, Cole Dorenkamp, from Lamar, won the season all-around cowboy championship; Ben Hall, of Tumbarumba, Australia, won in bareback riding; Tyler Turco, of Franktown, won in saddle bronc; Brett Custer, of Elk City, Oklahoma, won in bull riding; Cordell Curtis, of Monte Vista, won in permit bull riding; Cy Eames, of Gooding, Idaho, won in tie down roping; Beau Clark of Cheyenne, Wyoming, won in steer wrestling; Clayton Van Aken, of Cescanso, California, and Cullen Teller, of Fort Collins, won in team roping; Stacey Smallwood, of Laramie, Wyoming, won in barrel racing; Joe Wood, of Meeker, won in regional team roping; and Cylee Dunsmore, of Meeker, won in junior barrel racing.
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