Faith and Samantha Chambers create their own indoor arena
Photos courtesy of S-JDigital Photography
The Chambers family consists of Cody, Jackie, Faith and Samantha. They live on the plains of Colorado, just east of Ellicott. Faith and Samantha, or just Sam, are active kids with many interest. They thrive in academics, athletics and … rodeo. Both are members of the National Little Britches Rodeo Association (NLBRA).
It gets cold there in the winter. So cold, Faith and Samantha are often forced to practice inside. For them, this means … inside the house. “Sometimes we rope in the living room,” reveals Sam. “Mom’s not too happy about this.” Mom adds with a laugh, “Their dad brings them in, so there’s not much I can do about it.”
The sessions have become so regular that the family purchased a scaled-down roping dummy to accommodate the smaller pen.
This may sound extreme, but it’s the norm for these Colorado kids. “I’m 13 and in the eighth grade at Ellicott Middle School,” Faith reveals. “In addition to rodeo, I play basketball, volleyball and run track.” She’s also a straight A student and recipient of the Principle’s Award. Chambers continues, “My parents both rodeoed and I started riding when I was about 2-years-old.” A normal day in Faith’s life goes like this — school, home, chores, ride, homework, bed. Repeat.
Sam is 12-years-old and in sixth grade at the same school. A normal day for her is similar to that described by her older sister. “I’m a straight A … and B student,” she says with a giggle, revealing a touch of the condition most commonly known as youngest child syndrome. “I play volleyball and basketball,” she adds, “And I started to rodeo the exact same time as Faith.” Chamber’s personality influences her fashion sense and has led to her nickname at school as “Hollywood.” The family describes Sam’s choice of apparel as, “unique.” Chamber’s colorful clothes and matching attitude become more special when she shares a little of her personal story, “I was born with a cleft palate.” She continues, “I’ve had four surgeries to repair it.” Undeterred, she loves to sing and has even performed in her school’s talent show. Her sights are now focused on the next step. “I’m practicing to sing the National Anthem at a rodeo soon,” she says.
The two are always practicing something. While their busy schedule is not unique compared to other active families, one part of their existence is.
“We’ve never had a television,” reveals Sam. “And we don’t miss it,” Faith adds. The two rarely have free time, but when they do they choose to go to the workout center in town, or skiing, or swimming — depending on the season.
It gets hot in the summer where they live, so the family often gets up at 4:00 a.m. to practice. This allows them the luxury of being inside during the warmest time of day — and the chance to make the most of their indoor arena.
Each girl participates in barrel racing, pole bending, goat tying, dally ribbon roping, team roping, breakaway roping, and the trail course. The ribbon roping is a favorite of both. “I like it because of the running part,” explains Faith. “I’m a fast runner and like to be first in everything.” A competitive attitude in this event has its benefits — and drawbacks. “I like the challenge of grabbing the ribbon off the calf’s tail,” Faith continues, “but I have gotten hurt,” she admits. During one run, things deteriorated quickly. As Faith moved in to snatch the ribbon, a sudden sideways move by the calf created what is most commonly known as a “clothesline.” The rope caught Faith just below the chin and upended her. Upon landing she was run over by the animal. “I was stepped on and it fractured my wrist,” she explains.
Memories of temporary pain are quickly replaced by stories of success from both girls. “During my last season as a Little Wrangler, I did pretty well,” explains Sam. “In the first go-round at the Little Britches Finals in 2009, I finished third in the pole bending and seventh in the barrel racing. I made it to the short-go in both events and ended up fourth in the finals average and in fifth place in the world standings in flag racing.”
Faith offers her favorite accomplishment so far, “I was pretty nervous about entering the Junior Division,” she remembers. “But at the first rodeo I went to I won the all-around and then said to myself, ‘OK, I can do this!’”
The sisters are well-aware of the fact each of their accomplishments are shared with partners in the arena. “I use Casper for breakaway roping, barrel racing, and the trail course,” says Faith. She adds this horse can be controlled with a string. She continues with, “I just trust him. He’s like a best friend and I love him like a person.”
Faith partners with her mare, Gracie, for team roping and both girls use a horse called Blue. Faith uses him for the goat tying and pole bending and Sam in the team roping.
Sam partners with Joe for the breakaway roping, pole bending, goat tying and the trail course. The two share a special bond. According to Chambers, “He’s my favorite horse because he’s gone through something like me.” Sam continues, “He caught his leg in a fence when he was younger and was injured. He was supposed to be put down but wasn’t. He was given to us for free when we were little kids because everyone thought he would only ever be good for walking or trotting events.” The horse that was once counted out is now a star.
Every contestant that enters a Little Britches rodeo gets the chance to be a star. Faith and Sam are thankful for the opportunities the NLBRA provides and give the association many compliments. “I look forward to going to the rodeos,” Sam says. She expands, “Each one is like a big family reunion. You get to see your friends and hang out with them.” Faith agrees, “The rodeos are like a reunion and the people like family.” She concludes, “I like competing too — where you can think, feel, and push yourself to the limit.”
The sisters are also thankful for those who have helped them along the way. “I’m thankful for what Dad and Mom do for us,” says Faith. “They have their own jobs and lives and they still make time to be there for us.” She continues by expressing thanks also to friends McKenzie Miller and Hope Anderson. She reveals that McKenzie consistently pushes her to get better and Anderson is always willing to lend an ear and listen. According to Faith, “We’ve all been rodeoing together for five years and they are both always there for me.”
Sam expresses appreciation for the help of others too. She agrees with her older sister in regards to the thanks expressed for her parents. (This may be the only thing she agrees with her sister on). She also extends gratitude to her friend and mentor Tiana Yocam. “I really look up to her,” say Sam. Yocam has since moved to the college rodeo ranks, but is still special to Sam. “Tiana was a world champion in barrel racing for two years in the NLBRA. She helped me by just talking to me when I was nervous,” explains Chambers.
Finally each sister extends thanks to the other for motivation. They acknowledge they both try harder knowing the other is entered. The goal at every rodeo is not to beat each other — it’s simply not to lose.
The Chambers sisters from Colorado are now in preparations for the upcoming summer rodeo season. While winter has stuck around a little longer this spring, with snow, wind and falling temperatures — Faith and Sam are unaffected. They’ve just moved to their indoor arena … where they don’t have to worry about breaking the TV. ❖