Kassie Cattoor is the 14-year-old daughter of Troy and Sandy Cattoor of St. George, Utah.
“I have a 12-year-old brother, Kash (aka - Shorty),” explains Cattoor. She continues, “And then I have a sister who’s 6 named Kazely (aka - Pistol) and another 3-year-old sister named Kaybrie.” When asked about the significance of the first letter of each child’s name, Kassie replies, “Honestly, I don’t know why we’re all named like that.”
Honestly ... whatever the rational ... it works. Each of the K. Cattoors are making a name for themselves in the rodeo arena — and the oldest is setting the pace.
Kassie finished third in the 2012 National Little Britches Rodeo Association (NLBRA) Junior Girls All-Around standings, a repeat of her results from 2011. She won the short-go round in barrel racing in 2009 and again in 2012.
In the National High School Rodeo Association’s (NHSRA) Junior High Division, Cattoor has earned the All-Around Cowgirl saddle in Utah each of the last two seasons. She hopes to make it three-for-three in 2013.
Cattoor’s success in the sport is fitting. After all, the English word, “rodeo,” comes directly from the identical Spanish word. The most common translation is “round-up.” Coincidently, that’s what the Cattoors do best.
Cattoor Livestock Roundup, Inc., (CLR) began commercial round-ups of wild horses, burros, and cattle in 1975. The company, which contracts with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), the U.S. Forest Service, and private individuals in nine Western states, specializes in the gathering of large herds on open range. CLR is owned and operated by Kassie’s grandparents, Dave and Sue Cattoor, along with her dad and mom.
“My dad and granddad, and a crew of seven to 12 wranglers and pilots, are gone all winter,” explains Kassie. From July through March the crew travels from site to site to gather wild herds. The family has perfected the art of gathering these animals efficiently and humanely.
“I went along with my dad until I was about 4,” says Cattoor. “We just camped and caught wild horses,” she says. “I loved it.” Kassie continues, “The helicopter rides were the best. I would get to go up with them sometimes and it was a lot of fun.”
CLR is known for using helicopters alongside traditional cowboys on horseback to gather livestock. The family promotes the use of the aircraft as less stressful on the animals being gathered. The herds see the machines as more of a nuisance than threat, and will move away from the craft more from natural instinct than fear. This improves the ease and safety of all involved.
Camping out, catching wild horses, and riding in helicopters all day long makes for a pretty good story growing up. Incredibly, for Kassie, the story gets even better.
“A guy named Steve Hartman had a television show when I was a kid called ‘Everybody Has a Story,’ recalls Cattoor. The premise of the show was based on Hartman choosing a location to visit by tossing a dart over his shoulder at a map. He would travel to the spot the dart landed with his camera man, Les Rose, and then pick a subject for a story at random out of the phonebook.
Here Kassie interjects, “This is back when people used phonebooks.”
Anyway ... Hartman would then contact his choice and tell their story. When Hartman’s dart landed on Nephi, where the Cattoors lived at the time, he travelled to Utah and called up the family. “He stayed with us for several days and did a story on me,” says Kassie.
This was just Cattoor’s first appearance on television. She’s appeared many times since, thanks to RFD-TV and her achievements as a contestant at the National Little Britches Finals Rodeo (NLBFR) in Pueblo, Colo.
Kassie and her siblings work every event they are eligible. This equates to seven or more runs in each performance of every rodeo they enter. At the NLBFR, this amounted to a total of 14 during the two performances, with the chance also to compete in a short-go round for every event — over the course of just five days.
“I look forward to the NLBFR every year,” states Cattoor. She continues, “This is my favorite association because you can take your whole family to the rodeo. My brother, sisters, and I get to be together and compete. I’ve also been able to meet a lot of people at these rodeos and make friends from all over. I also like that you can win your money back at some rodeos, and I like competing in the jackpots at the finals.”
Kassie has definitely won her share of money back, thanks in part to her teammates. She team roped with her brother last season and competed in the Ribbon Roping with Colton Humphries of Fairview, Utah. When questioned about why she didn’t partner with Kash in ribbon roping, she readily admits, “Neither of us can run very fast at all.”
Cattoor partners with others in the arena as well. These teammates go by the names Trigger, Buster and Captain.
Trigger handles breakaway roping duties for Kassie. He’s a 7-year-old bay gelding. “I’ve had him about a year,” says Cattoor. “I use him for breakaway, but he’s also been heeled off of by Kash and Dad.”
Buster’s a sorrel who turned 15 this year. “He’s my all-around horse,” Kassie explains. He is used for the trail course, goat tying and team roping events. Cattoor goes on, “Buster has taught me to do a lot of stuff.” Kash also uses Buster in the flag race, goat tying, ribbon roping and team roping.
Every cowgirl needs a horse that just seems to fit. The one that rises to the occasion every time — and allows her to accomplish more than she even she believes she can. For Kassie, this horse was Captain. It was this 12-year-old bay that carried Cattoor to the barrel racing short-go victories and it was this horse that carried her to the National Junior High Finals Rodeo (NJHFR) in 2011 and 2012.
“We had Captain for about six years,” adds Kassie. “It took me a year to get with him, but after that we were pretty good.” Pretty good is an understatement. The duo went five consecutive years without hitting a barrel. Sadly, Captain was lost to an injury in early December. While the family acknowledges a substitute will be found, they know Captain will never be able to be replaced.
As 2013 begins, a lot of people are just beginning to work on their resolutions. Cattoor’s focused on finishing what she started in July of last year. She began preparations for this season as soon as the NJHFR and NLBFR were over in the middle of 2012.
Goals for the 2013 season include making a run at the NHSRA Junior High Division All-Around Cowgirl title, as well as making a mark on the NLBRA Senior Girls Division. Her vision, however, extends beyond just this year and beyond youth rodeo. “I’d like to get a scholarship to a college in Texas or Oklahoma,” she says. Oh, and she would also like to be the first woman to compete at the NFR in team roping ... and calf roping.
Kassie’s ambition isn’t limited to just one interest either. She’s active as an eighth grader in her middle school and maintains a 4.0 grade point average. She would like to stay involved in the family business, but has also tossed around the idea of becoming a veterinarian. She’s just not sure she wants to go to school for the length of time this path would require. Cattoor confesses, “I haven’t got it all figured out just yet.”
She’s also mentioned to her parents that she may want to learn to shoe horses someday. “My dad shoes them,” explains Kassie. Troy’s advice to his daughter in regard to this career choice is simple. According to Cattoor, “Dad just tells me to marry someone who knows how to shoe.” Kassie also has a desire to learn how to weld. “I’m a tomboy,” she says. “I’m not at all dainty.”
A promising future doesn’t prevent Kassie from looking back on the luck she has had and the help she’s received thus far in her career. “I’ve never broke a bone or even had to have stitches,” she says. She’s come pretty close, however. “Two years ago I got my hand caught in the dally pretty bad during a ribbon roping run,” Kassie recalls. She continues, “I knew I was going to get pinched, but I didn’t want to let go because no one else had caught. I lost of lot of skin on my hand and I still have a scare – but we won some money that day.” She summarizes, “It did kinda hurt and I learned by lesson.”
Kassie concludes by giving thanks to those who have supported her. “I really look up to both my dad and my mom,” she says sincerely. “They both rodeoed and have worked hard to help me do it too. They are both nice and positive and do a lot for all of us. I’m really lucky to have the parents I’ve got.”
Finally, Cattoor extends thanks to her siblings. “I’m thankful for my brother and sisters for putting up with me.” ❖