Wyoming People: Kassandra Shoemaker First Woman In Wyoming Steer Roping Finals

University of Wyoming student Kassandra Shoemaker made history last weekend as the first woman to compete in the Wyoming Steer Roping Finals in Sheridan, earning Rookie of the Year from the Wyoming Steer Roping Association.

Renée Jean

September 10, 20235 min read

Katie Shoemaker takes a turn around the starting gate area before its her turn. She became the first woman to compete in the steer roping event at Don King Days over Labor Day weekend in Sheridan.
Katie Shoemaker takes a turn around the starting gate area before its her turn. She became the first woman to compete in the steer roping event at Don King Days over Labor Day weekend in Sheridan. (Renée Jean, Cowboy State Daily)

SHERIDAN — Kassandra Shoemaker’s best time in the Wyoming Steer Roping Association’s finals was her last go in a pouring rain that chased all the bronc riders away early.

Shoemaker didn’t let the rain bother her at all. And she didn’t think about the fact she was making history either.

“I walked in, and my dad just said, ‘Go make your run,’” Shoemaker told Cowboy State Daily. “That was really it. He just told me to focus on my target, and do my job. Just another run.”

That run was a history-making moment, though. It’s the first time a woman has competed in the Wyoming Steer Roping Association’s steer-roping finals competition which was held this year at Don King Days in Sheridan. 

The annual event is held at the Big Horn Equestrian Center on a field that’s surrounded by picturesque mountains. 

Shoemaker has grown up attending the event. For her, just being there to compete at all was the real magic. 

“This is the most magical place to rodeo,” she told Cowboy State Daily. “To be here, to be part of such an historic event, and to be making history here, I don’t have words for how special it is to be here today.”

Shoemaker hopes her appearance will be an encouragement for more women to get into the sport. 

“I don’t know of many women competing, but lots do as part of ranching,” she said. 

She added that the Wyoming Steer Roping Association has been very welcoming to her and that she believes it is a great experience for any woman interested in giving it a shot.

Latest Of Many Milestones

This is Shoemaker’s first year competing in steer roping, and what a year it has been. 

The milestone at Sheridan’s Don King Days over Labor Day Weekend was just the latest in a string of milestones. Shoemaker also made history in Texas, where she was the only woman who qualified to compete in the inaugural National Finals Steer Roping College Division. 

She was one of 30 students from 16 different colleges who qualified for the competition, and the only woman there.

Blazing a trail for other women to compete has been an exhilarating ride for Shoemaker, but she’s never thinking about that when she’s in the “box.”  

The “box” refers to a safe area where riders await the exit of the steer they are roping. 

“When I get back in the box, I like to think that the score is zero-zero, and to make it count like it’s the last one I’ll ever rope,” she said. “You never know when you’ll get hurt, or your horse will get hurt, or something will happen that you won’t be able to compete anymore. 

“So be thankful for every opportunity to get back in the box and treat it like it’s your last one ever.” 

Those were her thoughts Monday afternoon in the pouring rain. Making it count, like it’s the last ever.

Her last steer was down and roped with a time of 17 seconds — her best time in the event yet. 

“Maybe I need more distractions every time,” she told Cowboy State Daily, chuckling a little. “I don’t know that I placed in the last round. It was a pretty tough roping, but it was my best run of the weekend. It just seemed like I kept shaving seconds off as I ran more. That’s all I can ask for is to see improvement of some sort every run.”

Rookie Of The Year

While Shoemaker may not have placed in the finals, she did walk away with a pretty cool award, Rookie of the Year. 

“All of the guys in the Wyoming Steer Roping Association who rope are just role models, they’re second dads, they’re just family,” she said. “So that was a huge honor, and I was really excited. And they were all just as excited for me as I was to receive the Rookie of the Year Award.”

Shoemaker is not letting any hay grow under her feet at this point. She’s already back in classes at theUniversity of Wyoming in Laramie. She’s also making plans for her next time in the box.

“College rodeos start here in a couple of weeks, and we will get on with those, and the college division steer roping throughout the school year,” she said. “Graduation is in May, and then it’s pro rodeo again next summer.”

Shoemaker plans to get her PRCA permit and card to rope steers professionally eventually. 

She also plans to become a veterinarian. She’s in the process of applying to veterinarian schools.

“I’ll find out next spring how that will shake out,” she said. 

Renée Jean can be reached at renee@cowboystatedaily.com.

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Renée Jean

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