Eighteen-year-old Ricki Konze is a little lady with a big personality. "She's a real spitfire."
"She's confident, she bright she's talented she's spunky. She definitely knows what she wants and she's going to get it."
And what this high school senior wants, is to go pro in the sport she loves. "She's a good cowgirl."
For most of her life, Ricki has found herself at home on the top of a horse. "For my second birthday I got my uncles calf horse and after that is was like, yeah...we're doing this."
She followed in her moms footsteps into the Little Britches Rodeo. "She was pretty good. Still is..."
She began competing when she was just three. "I'm trotting along with the horse on the lead line," says Ricki's dad. "And she's flopping around and people are yelling 'go faster!' And I'm like 'YOU go faster! When they can go by themselves it's like....THANK heaven! I'm coming out like whooof."
When Ricki showed promise early on, her parents poured their hearts and wallets into making her dream a reality...starting with building their own indoor practice arena. "She is an only child and we do this as a family. We are out here every night together. Ricki does the work in the arena but outside this is a team effort."
Last year, she made it all the way to nationals in three of her five events...and is hoping for a return trip this year. She's as competitive as they come, oftentimes choosing rodeo over more typical teenage activities. "Freshmen year I didn't go to Homecoming and I said 'I have a rodeo.' And everyone was like, 'you can't just skip!' And I was like, 'nationals...or a dance??'
What drives her? "Sometimes it's mom!
Ricki will continue her Rodeo riding next year as a freshmen at Oklahoma State University. "I want to rodeo professionally but I've been led to believe I need a degree so I am going to get that while I am there."
"What's it going to be like come August when she goes off?? "I'm pretty sure when the truck and trailer roll away in August they'll be a stowaway."
"I never wanted a serious boyfriend but I kinda wish there was one right now to keep her around!! (laughs) I can't lie!!!"
"There are nights when things aren't going right. She's grumpy or she's grumpy or the horse is grumpy and things aren't going right. When that happens it seems like this arena is all laughter and tears. It's one or the other. You hope that there's more of one than the other but sometimes you wonder. But it's the road to getting there."