HELENA — The East Helena Rodeo is coming up next week. Many are excited for the event after it was canceled last year, but no one is more excited than an 11-year-old girl bringing her talent on horse to the arena.
In a home arena is a performance showcasing displays of athleticism and a connection between horse and rider.
Audrey Snellman describes it as, “it’s like doing gymnastics on my horse.”
The 11-year-old started exploring this style of riding before the pandemic.
“I was doing tricks on my horse, just like standing up in my regular saddle and just messing around hanging off the side, like nothing super safe, nothing with the correct straps. So I couldn't do it because it wasn't safe," says Snellman.
It wasn’t safe until a year ago during COVID times, Snellman’s Trick Riding Coach, Madison MacDonald Thomas, had her rodeo season canceled. As she traveled through Montana to head home, Thomas discovered Snellman via social media.
“Someone tagged my mom in that post saying, ‘I bet Audrey would love this.’ So she came up and I got a lesson,” says Snellman. “I was really nervous, I didn't have any of my own equipment. I just brought my horse and I fell in love with it. It was a lot of fun."
With a year's worth of practice, Snellman is already in the arena performing for live audiences. It’s in those live performances her mother can see trick riding being a part of the family.
“Seeing people there and the people enjoyed it and she enjoyed it, really made me think that it was something that was going to stick,” says Laura Snellman, Audrey’s mother. “She wasn't nervous at all, she was super pumped, she's still super pumped so that part has made me really think that it's something that might last for a while.”
Snellman now fills her busy schedule of gymnastic camps and 4H activities with trick riding at different events. The next one is the East Helena Rodeo during the Specialty Acts.
You can see Snellman’s trick riding Friday and Saturday night, July 9th and 10th during the East Helena Rodeo. She also has a goal to perform at the Last Chance Stampede one day.