Horse trainer Carly Ramsey finds success in wildly different equestrian disciplines
Leave it to the National Western Stock Show to attract a Grand Prix rider from Texas who also loves riding ranch broncs.
Twenty-three-year-old Carly Ramsey lived most of her life in southern California, but now runs Ramsey Performance Horses in Honey Grove, Texas. “The sweetest town in Texas, that is what they say,” quipped Ramsey with a laugh. Growing up going to horse shows with her mom, getting her first horse when she was 4 and then showing on the quarter horse circuit since she was 5, Ramsey was steeped in the world of performance horses, including starting to ride hunter jumpers when she was in her mid-teens. You would think training and showing quarter horses, starting colts, and riding in competitive showjumping events might be a full plate for a talented horse woman.
You would be wrong.
Despite her already eclectic riding schedule, at the age of 19, Ramsey decided to enter an open ranch bronc riding competition in her hometown of Norco, Calif. She won that first competition and was hooked on the sport.
“It was so fun,” recalled Ramsey about her first bronc ride. “I stayed on my horse and I had the highest score on the bronc. It was crazy to just stay on. I was the only girl doing it, so it had me hooked.”
While Ramsey described how different training performance horses and starting colts was from ranch bronc riding, she also believes those things helped her be successful on the broncs right from the get-go.
“In a sense, I felt a bit of an advantage, because I was able to nod my head and say, okay, I know this horse is going to buck me off,” she began. “On some of these colts, you’ve been riding them for 30 days and then one morning it is like here he goes, and you are not prepared because you think you are just out for a long trot. (Ranch bronc riding) was very different, but it was a cool experience. The horses, of course, buck harder than your typical day to day colt, but it also felt eerily similar to jumping horses, the way the horses kick up their hind end and we have to compensate. When a horse is bucking, it feels like that rocking chair kind of motion, which is similar on a jumping horse. They are jumping 5 1/2 feet up in the air and they make that same kind of motion. ”
While riding ranch bronc horses already puts her in a small percentage of women, her bronc exploits make her a near unicorn among her fellow Grand Prix jumpers.
“I have never met someone else that rides a jumper and rides broncs,” she said with a bright grin. “I have met a lot of people that ride horses and barrel race or start colts or things like that, but I can’t say I have ever met someone that also rides jumpers. It is usually not their cup of tea.”
Ramsey has only ridden ranch broncs for four years, yet is successful in those competitions, including winning the 2019 Texas Bronc Riders Association Tour Finals in Cheyenne and the year-end high money title. On the hunter jumper side, while she has been competing in that discipline for seven or eight years, that is considered a short period of time. Despite her relative inexperience in Grand Prix jumping competitions, Ramsey has found success in that arena, as well.
Hearing about the NWSS’ hunter jumper classes and Grand Prix competitions, Ramsey brought a single horse in 2020 to check out the historic stock show and take part in its competition. In the two highest profile hunter jumper events of the 2020 NWSS, the $15,000 Gambler’s Choice Jumper Stake and the $40,000 Grand Prix, Ramsey earned second place and third place, respectively. After becoming accomplished in such different equestrian disciplines, Ramsey was able to discuss what she enjoys about each of them.
“My favorite part about the ranch bronc riding would have to be the thrill,” she began. “It is a way shorter experience at 8 seconds, but it is all packed into one (ride) and is just so much adrenaline. That has got to be my favorite part. The Grand Prix is so much more technical, and I put so much more pressure on myself in these classes than I do on the bucking horses. There are pictures of me on the broncs and I am smiling and having a great time, but you rarely find me smiling in a Grand Prix. I am having a great time, but it is so much more technical, you can’t really compare it. In Grand Prix showjumping, the people that are the best are 50-60 years old. They have been doing it for 40 years. As a youngster coming in, it is all about experience and nothing else. So I like the precision side of the jumping.”
After a successful first visit to Denver’s NWSS, Ramsey was enthusiastic about the atmosphere.
“I have never been to a stock show, ever, so this has been so cool,” she said of everything associated with the NWSS. “To be hand walking my horse and to see people go by with some longhorns and then some heifers go by, it is just the weirdest thing and it is so cool to get to see so many different sides of agriculture all rounded out and under one roof. I love it. This is a great first Denver stock show for me and it is definitely going to be on our calendar for next year.” Leave it to the National Western Stock Show to have people wanting to return for more. ❖