Earn Your Spurs: Exploring the Cowboy, Horses and All Things Western







September 2014
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Today I am speaking with Jennifer Nicholson of Riata Ranch Internationa. She has been involved with the Riata Ranch Cowboy Girls nearly since it was founded in 1976. Jennifer now directs the organization where she started as a young student and became one of the four original trick riding performers in the late 1970’s. They have performed on 4 continents and in front of such dignitaries as Queen Elizabeth. But even more than that, Riata Ranch focuses on empowering young women to reach their true potential.

Direct download: Episode7_jennifer_Nicholson_mixdown.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:00am MDT

Terri Powers has been a writer for 25 years.  Although she claims that she (and I quote) has “never been anything remotely resembling a cowgirl,” she has been around rodeo her whole life and that certainly came in handy when she began writing her first completed book. The autobiography of 8 time world champion tie down roper, Fred Whitfield, titled Gold Buckles Don’t Lie, was a real eye opener for the rodeo community.

Her newest book, Cowboy Tails, will be coming out in a few months, but I will let Terri give us the details about that one. 

Direct download: Episode6_Terri_Powers_mixdown.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:00am MDT

Justin Koehler is a film producer who has worked on projects airing on the History channel, Discovery, Weather channel, HGTV and PBS.

His first independent film entitled The Buffalo King: the Man who Saved the American Bison is an award-winning documentary on the film festival circuit and has aired on public television in all 50 states.

The film he is currently working on, called Floating Horses, chronicles the life of rodeo legend Casey Tibbs.

Direct download: Episode5_JustinKoehler_mixdown.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:00am MDT

In The Rodeo Guide for City Slickers, Graeme Menzies brings his urban credentials and experiences to the task of explaining rodeo to other urban professionals in a way that is light, lively, informative and accessible.

A communications strategist and writer, Graeme played a leadership role on the communications team at the 2010 Olympic Games and continues in his commitment to telling the true stories of athletes and athletics through his immersion into all things rodeo.

Combining personal rodeo-attending experience, with solid research and consultations with actual rodeo performers and professionals, Graeme introduces the City Slicker to rodeo as only a true City Slicker can!


Born in Western Canada, he has visited over a hundred cities around the world and has lived on three continents. He has an Honours Degree in International Relations and a Masters Degree in Communications and Technology. And well, you could say he has lived a modern and urban life ... the true definition of a “city slicker”.

Direct download: Episode4_GraemeMenzies_mixdown.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:00am MDT

Karen Searle grew up on a ranch in Paradise Valley, south of Livingston, MT. She is passionate about preserving the ranching way of life, and sharing the history and culture of Montana ranchers with the rest of the world. She says, “Think of me as a native Montanan and a travel coordinator who is skilled as a matchmaker. Let me know your interests. I can put you in touch with ranchers whose Montana roots date back 100 years.”

Karen’s goals are to match guests with a ranch that will give them the authentic experience of Montana ranching.  And to help keep the Montana ranch heritage alive by creating a supplemental income for working ranch families.  

Her daughter, Saundra, has been involved in Montana Bunkhouses from the very beginning. In her early teens she was the wrangler and entertainer for guests from around the globe.  In recent years she has taken on the role of tech support, in addition to hosting guests who want what she calls the “Montana Summer Experience” to complement their ranch stay. She is incredibly proud of her mom, and excited to be a part of this new agri-tourism niche they are growing.

Direct download: Episode3_MT_Bunkhouses_mixdown.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:16pm MDT

Paul Barnes has been a performance horse trainer for over 40 years.  He has started thousands of young horses, trained reined cowhorses, cutting horses, barrel horses, rope horses – even stakes-winning race horses.

His clients have won nearly every cutting horse award there is to win in Northern Nevada. His son is a past National High School Finals Rodeo All Around Cowboy and current college rodeo coach at the University of Las Vegas and his daughter has won a few things too.  

Direct download: Episode2_Paul_Barnes_mixdown.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:06pm MDT

Hey! I am Alyssa Barnes, the host of the Earn Your Spurs Podcast. Thank you for joining me for the very first episode! I will be releasing a new episode every week featuring amazing individuals within the western space - cowboys, cowgirls, authors, movie producers - if they are involved in cowboy culture and have  a fascinating or inspiring story to share, you will be hearing from them on the show.

My goal with the podcast and the Earn Your Spurs blog is to provide a resource for people who want to live a little more western but aren't quite sure how to go about it. With the help of some of the top experts on the skills and nuances of the cowboy lifestyle, I will show you the right way to accomplish your goals or check those items off the ol' bucket list.

Direct download: Episode1_mixdown.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00pm MDT