Cheyenne Allan and Kacey Gartner will represent the Northwest’s Columbia River Circuit at the NFR Open in 2023 after winning the circuit title and the circuit finals, respectively, for the second year in a row.
The Columbia River Circuit is keeping things consistent—the same ladies that dominated the year-end and aggregate after the conclusion of the 2022 Columbia River Circuit Finals in Redmond, Oregon, were the same names who rose to the top in the 2021 season.
Two for Three
Reigning circuit champion Cheyenne Allan finished the Columbia River Circuit season with $36,738.32 won, clinching the title before she ever stepped foot in Redmond.
Allan and her 9-year-old gelding, RCA Royal Flush, or “Three”, are fan favorites across the Northwest. The veteran cowgirl knows how to win, and her large, sorrel dancing partner was voted Horse of the Year by Allan’s peers—a testament to the respect he has earned from Allan’s fellow competitors.
Allan didn’t head to the pay window in Redmond, but that didn’t ruin her parade. With big wins at Kennewick, Washington, Joseph, Oregon and a third-place finish at Pendleton, Allan’s horse proved that he was easily suited in the big pens of the Northwest–earning Allan a $15,293 lead over No. 2 athlete Kacey Gartner going into the CRCF.
After finishing No. 24 in the 2022 WPRA World Standings during the regular season with $58,446.75 in earnings, Allan secured her positioning to head south for the Texas winter rodeos from her home in Mabton, Washington, to kick off her 2023 campaign.
While the year end was wrapped up before the first round, the aggregate title was anybody’s game at the CRCF. Kacey Gartner and Rebel Look, “Mercedes,” came out on top when the dust settled with a time of 45.52 seconds on three runs, earning $3,077 for the win.
Gartner—a hair salon owner from Walla Walla, Washington, and mother of two– and her 2012 mare patiently waited through the rounds for their chance to strike.
After the first two rounds, all eyes were on Chelsie Stodghill and Rachelle Riggers. Stodghill and “Pistol,” earned the first round victory with a 15.05-second run, and the second round belonged to Riggers and “Magic,” who turned in a 15.10-second time. Then, Gartner made her move. Her 14.92-second time earned the third round victory, bringing her earnings through the rounds to $3,334 and besting Riggers in the aggregate by just over a tenth of a second.
“Winning the average at the circuit finals is always a goal, I just take one run at a time,” Gartner said. “Mercedes was really wanting to work so I knew I had to be on my ‘A’ game. Chelsie and Rachelle’s horses were on fire, so I knew I had a lot of ground to make up to win it.”
Gartner’s mare traditionally excels in arenas with close walls, much like the coliseum in Redmond, Oregon. However, the mare has a favorite course that doesn’t quite fit the same mold as the small indoor at the CRCF—The Green Mile.
Gartner entered the circuit finals in the No. 2 position, thanks in part to her win at the Pendleton Round-Up in September on her 14.2-hand mare, who is by JD Look and out of Jo Jos Dasher.
“She’s been special from the day she was born,” Gartner explained in an interview after her Round-Up win. “There was no way she wasn’t going to be a winner—her personality, her attitude—she’s a goer, a doer and wants to please you all the time. She’s just a special mare.”
The Columbia River Circuit will be one to watch at the 2023 NFR Open, as Gartner and Allan both return with veteran status, and Allan boasts the reigning NFR Open Championship after her stellar performance in 2022.
2022 Columbia River Circuit Finals Results
Redmond, Oregon, Oct 20-22
First round: 1. Chelsie Stodghill, 15.05 seconds, $2,052; 2. Rachelle Riggers, 15.21, $1,539; 3. Kacey Gartner, 15.24, $1,026; 4. Rainy Robinson, 15.29, $513.
Second round: 1. Rachelle Riggers, 15.10 seconds, $2,052; 2. Teri Bangart, 15.22, $1,539; 3. Chelsie Stodghill, 15.32, $1,026; 4. (tie) Kacey Gartner and Rainy Robinson, 15.36, $256 each.
Third round: 1. Kacey Gartner, 14.92 seconds, $2,052; 2. Jessica Lewis, 15.15, $1,539; 3. Tristan Parrish, 15.25, $1,026; 4. Rachelle Riggers, 15.38, $513.
Average: 1. Kacey Gartner, 45.52 seconds on three head, $3,077; 2. Rachelle Riggers, 45.69, $2,308; 3. Tristan Parrish, 46.01, $1,539; 4. Rainy Robinson, 46.04, $769.