Horse act |

Horse act

Teenage trick riding cowgirl set to perform at Hastings pro rodeo

By Ruth Nicolaus
for the Oregon Trail Rodeo

HASTINGS, Neb. — There’s a teenage girl who’s going to miss a few days of school for the Oregon Trail Rodeo in Hastings, Neb., but she has a good excuse.

She’s working at the rodeo.

Thirteen-year-old Payton Routier, who lives in Buffalo, S.D., should be in school when the rodeo’s going on, but she’ll be the specialty act for the 30th annual Hastings pro rodeo.

The limber and agile cowgirl trick rides, a Western art form that is performing stunts while riding a horse, as the equine gallops around the arena at full speed.

It’s beauty, grace, adrenaline and danger, all from the back of a horse, with sparkly, sequined costumes.

It’s something Payton has been doing since she was 4 years old. She saw a trick rider at a rodeo she attended, as her mom competed, and fell in love with it.

She went home, trying to replicate the tricks she saw on her pony. And she bugged her parents, Riley and Jessica Routier, telling them she wanted to be a trick rider.

At first, they ignored her requests, thinking she would outgrow it.

But she didn’t, so they bought her the right kind of saddle and paid for her to take lessons.


And it grew from there. Payton started with easier tricks like the hippodrome (standing on a galloping horse), and the front fender (laying horizontally alongside the horse, hanging on with a hand and a foot in a strap). Then she graduated to harder tricks, like the spin the horn.

Her favorites are vaulting tricks: jumping from the horse, while he’s in motion, to the ground, and springing back up.

She’s an eighth grade student, playing volleyball and basketball and competing in South Dakota Junior High Rodeo, and making time to practice on her horse, Barbie.

A 19-year-old paint horse, Barbie has been owned by the Routiers for the past 10 years. Barbie is good at a lot of things. Not only can Payton trick ride on her, she is her rodeo horse, too, for the breakaway roping, team roping, flag race and goat tying. Payton’s younger sisters, who are 5 and 6 years old, love to ride her, too.


Payton began her professional trick riding career at age 5. She doesn’t get too nervous before she performs anymore, but she’s is more nervous when she’s about to attempt a new stunt.

Trick riding has benefitted her daughter, mom Jessica said. Payton was shy, and when people would come to talk to her, she’d be quiet and not say much. “I told her, you need to talk to people when they come up to you, because they’ll perceive it not so much as being shy but being rude,” Jessica said. “It taught her to grow up pretty quickly.”

This year, Payton will entertain at about seven rodeos, including the Hastings rodeo, Aug. 20-22.

The best part, in her opinion, is getting to meet new people, and the adrenaline rush, too, she said. “It’s really fun.”

Payton will perform during each performance of the Oregon Trail Rodeo in Hastings at the Adams County Fairgrounds Aug. 20-22. The rodeo begins at 7 p.m. on Aug. 20-21 and at 5 p.m. on Aug. 22.

Tickets range in price from $10 to $20 and will be available online at, at the fair office, and at the gate.

For more information, visit the website or call the fair office at (402) 462-3247.


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