Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community member Angelique Schurz, 15, has been competing in rodeos for most of her young life. During the Southwestern Regional Rodeo Finals which consisted in Payson Arizona and Fort Hall Idaho, Schurz competed in girls breakaway roping and barrel racing. In her first run in barrel racing, she scored a time of 18.55, which put her in first place. Her second run was a fraction slower, at 18.65, putting her in second place. But that was OK, because the top three finalists in each event qualified to compete in the Indian National Finals Rodeo (INFR), which will be held in Las Vegas, November 8-11.
“It is my first time going. It’s an accomplishment and it has always been my dream,” said Schurz. Her grandmother Natasha Martinez added that it’s all coming true for Schurz. Schurz will be the youngest and the first female Community member to participate in the INFR.
An Early Start
Schurz started riding horses when she was about 18 months old. She began competing as soon as she was old enough to enter the competitions, at four years old.
Her first memory was when she got on a pony and fell off. “I was riding on the pony and I could not stop it, and it ran under a pole, and I remember grabbing onto the pole so I could get off of the pony,” said Schurz.
Although her event in the IFNR will be barrel racing, Schurz also competes in roping, team roping, pole bending and flag racing, and she even rode a steer at one time at the Community’s Fun Days rodeo.
When asked if she would ride a steer again, Schurz said that she is now too old to ride steers and will move on to riding bulls.
“I actually want to ride bulls, because one of my dreams is to be the first female to go to Professional Bull Riders, Inc.,” said Schurz. Professional Bull Riders is an international organization of bull riders who compete in tours of televised bull-riding events.
This year Schurz took part in the Junior Rodeo Series for the Southwest region.
She went to a rodeo in Fort Hall, Idaho to compete in barrel racing and breakaway. She said that she caught her calf the first time, but the flagger gave her a no time (ran out of time), but she did much better in barrel racing, with a time of 20.8, putting her in the top 10.
Schurz says part of her success can be attributed to her barrel-racing horses, Gypsy, 23, and Chief, 16, along with her horse Huckleberry, which she rides in breakaway, barrel racing and team roping.
When asked how she prepares for her competitions, she said that while her family is brushing the horse, “I will get ready and then saddle up and leg up (condition and prepare) the horse, and for 30 minutes I will warm up the horse, running each way, and then keep walking the horse until it is time for competitions,” said Schurz. “Then after each competition I loosen her up and cool her down.”
This whole summer Schurz has been in the arena practicing in the mornings and evenings to get better at her competitions.
“In team roping I found out I could get good at it, and I double hocked (roped the hind legs) a steer in the air,” said Schurz. “I would get up at 5:30 in the morning to practice roping and barrel racing, which led me to get this far. And we also practiced at night too.”
A Team Effort
Tia Bruised Head is a strong coach and mentor to Schurz and has been by Schurz’s side all the way, helping and motivating her. Bruised Head is also going to the INFR, as she qualified in breakaway roping. Other mentors include Schurz’s grandpa David Martinez, who really pushed her to become good; Cricket Herrera, whom Schurz calls a brother; and her “other” grandfather, Jim McAnlis.
Schurz would like to thank everyone who has been there for help, including her peers Ciera McAnlis and Kaya Hayes, who also have been practicing alongside Schurz.
“The Salt River Rodeo Committee has helped her; she had been involved in the committee since she was four years old,” said Natasha Martinez.
But the work to get to the INFR has only just begun, as Schurz and her family have a big goal to reach: Expenses for travel and entry fees for the INFR will be about $4,000. “We want to get out and do some fundraisers to get to the INFR event by hosting car washes, food sales and raffles, and all donations are greatly appreciated,” said Martinez.
Name: Angelique Schurz
School: Westwood High (Mesa)
Favorite class: Weight training; strengthen my lower body, but I can do some chin-ups as well.
Hobbies: Sports; softball, baseball, basketball and main sport is rodeo
Music: Justin Bieber
Color: Blue, purple and zebra print.
Food: Hot Wings
Biggest Motivator: “My grandma Natasha Martinez, Grandma Merna Lewis, the late Emmitt King, and Nyjah Huston, the youngest professional skateboarder.”