HELENA — The East Helena Rodeo is coming up next week. Many are excited for the event after it was canceled last year, but no one is more excited than 11-year-old girl Audrey Snellman, bringing her talent on horse to the arena.
In a home arena is a performance showcasing displays of athleticism and a connection between horse and rider.
Audrey describes it as: “like doing gymnastics on my horse.” She started exploring this style of riding before the pandemic.
“I was doing tricks on my horse, just like standing up in my regular saddle and just messing around hanging off the side, like nothing super safe, nothing with the correct straps. So I couldn't do it because it wasn't safe," she explained.
It wasn’t safe until a year ago during COVID times that Snellman’s trick riding coach, Madison MacDonald Thomas, had her rodeo season canceled. As she traveled through Montana to head home, Thomas discovered Snellman via social media.
“Someone tagged my mom in that post saying, ‘I bet Audrey would love this.’ So she came up and I got a lesson,” says Snellman. “I was really nervous, I didn't have any of my own equipment. I just brought my horse and I fell in love with it. It was a lot of fun."
With a year's worth of practice, Audrey is already in the arena performing for live audiences. It’s in those live performances her mother can see trick riding being a part of the family.
“Seeing people there and the people enjoyed it and she enjoyed it, really made me think that it was something that was going to stick,” says Audrey's mother Laura. “She wasn't nervous at all, she was super pumped, she's still super pumped so that part has made me really think that it's something that might last for a while.”
Audrey now fills her busy schedule of gymnastic camps and 4H activities with trick riding at different events. The next one is the East Helena Rodeo during the Specialty Acts.
You can see Audrey's trick riding Friday and Saturday night, July 9th and 10th during the East Helena Rodeo. She also has a goal to perform at the Last Chance Stampede one day.