Women of the West

Kirsten Vold

Managing one of the most respected bucking stock contracting companies in the rodeo industry is no easy task, but this cowgirl keeps it in perspective.

Kirsten Vold of Pueblo, Colorado, was raised on the legendary Harry Vold Rodeo Company’s headquarters and spent her early years working and riding in the rodeo industry. Now, as the company’s manager, the 37-year-old cowgirl had made a name for herself as one of the most-respected female rodeo contractors in the business. Her work to continue her father’s legacy of producing championship bucking stock has been rewarded with the success of Painted Valley, a horse Vold raised herself.

I always worked for the company growing up. That is how I spent every summer, and actually I had a tutor and didn’t attend public school until 9th grade. Basically, I worked the rodeo circuit year-round until high school, when I went to public school.

I graduated from the University of Southern Colorado in December of 1996. I wanted to see what was outside of rodeo contracting, so I went to work in sports apparel marketing. While doing that job, I came to the realization that I missed the hands-on, grass roots aspect of rodeo. That’s what made me want to come back.

Dad was having a tough time finding someone to take hold and run things. He had had foremen in the past, but he didn’t really have anyone to take that job over currently and run it. He was looking for a change and I was looking for a change, and we kind of found each other at the right time.

It’s very important to me to uphold what he started. He started this business from scratch and has been in it for over 50 years. The last thing you want to do is be the one to bring down the family name or something like that he’s spent a lifetime building. We’ve got a reputation of quality, professionalism and ethics.

Painted Valley, a stallion Vold raised herself, was named the 2009 Top Saddle Bronc Riding horse at the National Finals Rodeo. Photo by Darrell Dodds.

Even though I’m a different person, people associate me with him because I am running his business. The last thing you want to do is do anything that might be detrimental to the business he built.

It’s not your traditional 9-to-5 job. You have to work when it’s raining or snowing or cold. There is no such thing as a sick day or a snow day.

Things have changed a lot as far as men and women in the workplace, but rodeo is still traditionally a man’s sport, a man’s industry. There were people who were reluctant at times to have me in this position.

My daily activities range from feeding animals to doctoring animals to sorting animals to negotiating contracts to writing paychecks. I don’t know how some people do the same thing every day. I would probably go stir-crazy.

Nothing brings me a higher amount of adrenaline than watching a horse really buck that enjoys bucking. Whether he bucks the cowboy off or the cowboy makes a ride on him, it is equally rewarding.

Painted Valley is one that I raised myself and he is actually mine. He is the first I actually put my brand on and was my own. He is very dear to my heart. I raised him in my back yard and he is very gentle.

To see something that you have brought up to the top level, and know he can compete with the most athletic horses in the country, is something to take pride in. I’m not going to lie. That makes you feel good about what you are doing.

My passion, my love is rodeo. What I love about rodeo is not necessarily what everyone else likes about rodeo. They like the big shows. I love watching a young, inexperienced rider come to a rodeo. He’s been dreaming of getting on since he was a young kid, watching 8 Seconds or riding a stick horse around, and now he’s at his first PRCA rodeo. I love being a part of that, of being in the moment that he won’t forget for the rest of his life.

To watch a bucking horse go from when you saw them buck for the first time to being an experienced veteran where every cowboy knows them, that brings me great joy.

I will always have bucking horses in my life. I can’t imagine my life without them.

This article was originally published in the November 2010 issue of Western Horseman.

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