Katie Crosby cares for the calves on her family’s 100-cow dairy near Shell Lake, Wis. Crosby is also the 2017 Spooner Heart of the North Rodeo Princess.PHOTO BY BRITTANY OLSON
Katie Crosby cares for the calves on her family’s 100-cow dairy near Shell Lake, Wis. Crosby is also the 2017 Spooner Heart of the North Rodeo Princess.
SHELL LAKE, Wis. - Katie Crosby has grown up with horses and rodeo about as long as she's grown up with dairy cows.
Crosby, who will be a senior at Shell Lake High School, lives on a 100-cow dairy farm with her parents, Shorty and Melissa, and her brother, Tyler. She is serving as the 2017 Spooner Heart of the North Rodeo Princess after holding the title for the previous year, as well.
"I've been to the Spooner rodeo every year of my life," Crosby said. "For as long as I can remember, I have admired the girls who proudly represent the sport of rodeo and Spooner itself."
Crosby, who owns a percentage of the family's herd, also spends time working with her family's nine horses.
"I bought my own horse last year, and we have eight more on the farm," Crosby said. "The horse I bought last year is the one I used for rodeo tryouts this year."
On top of her responsibilities on the farm, which include raising calves and heifers with her mom and filling in wherever she is needed, she has had to balance her obligations to the rodeo. Her duties as princess include, but aren't limited to, promoting rodeo and the city of Spooner, parades, radio and TV interviews, and serving as a role model for younger girls.
"It's been a lot of early mornings, and having to find people to fill in and feed calves," Crosby said.
Melissa agreed, adding that it takes a lot of time to get primped and done up for rodeo events.
"It takes a while to curl all that hair," Melissa said, referring to her daughter's long blonde hair.
Crosby admits that, while she loves rodeo, it's been a little harrying at times due to a back injury from childhood that holds her back from doing chores on the farm.
"I broke two vertebrae in my back when I was 8 years old, and even now I get a little worried when I'm working with the horses," Crosby said.
She had a close call during tryouts for this year's rodeo with her new horse, a 7-year-old gelding that hadn't had much experience with rodeo. With acts such as monkeys riding around on dogs and other animals doing tricks, in addition to other strange sights and sounds, Crosby ended up becoming airborne after the horse was startled.
"There was a bit of a question mark as to how he'd react with 5,600 people screaming and clapping. He got spooked at tryouts with just 30 people, and I was tossed," Crosby said. "The brim of my hat was bent flat on the ground and pushed up, and probably saved me from something much worse."
After taking the fall, Crosby summoned her farm-girl strength, brushed the dust off and hopped back in the saddle to finish the tryouts.
"Growing up on the farm taught me to improvise when things go wrong. You deal with it, get over it, and move on, just like when I was thrown off the horse," Crosby said.
This year's Spooner Heart of the North Rodeo was held July 5 through July 8, and Crosby said it went well despite things being hectic at home.
"We had a calf born every single day of the rodeo," Melissa said.
Being a farm kid has taught Crosby more than courage, also. Because of her involvement with 4-H and FFA, she has also grown as a speaker and leader.
"I learned responsibility, too. You have to do your job because no one else will do it for you," Crosby said. "Growing up on a dairy farm got me involved with 4-H and FFA, which led to speaking opportunities and leadership roles."
After high school, Crosby would like to attend the University of Wisconsin-River Falls and study equine science to pursue a career in the veterinary medicine field. With being an active player on the family farm and in the rodeo industry, some could say that she puts the "cow" in cowgirl.
"Whatever I decide to do, it will absolutely include working with animals," Crosby said. "I am very grateful for the opportunity I had last year as Princess and I am delighted to be back to represent the 64th Spooner Heart of The North Rodeo."