Interview with Kirsten Vold, Owner of Vold Rodeo Company
Vold Rodeo Company doesn’t need much of an introduction if you are an avid rodeo-goer, but for those of you who might be new to the industry, let me do a brief introduction. Vold Rodeo was founded by Harry Vold, who was born in 1924 in Ponoka, Alberta, Canada. Harry was one of the most well-respected and most decorated stock contractors of his time. A few of his accolades include being an 11-time PRCA Stock Contractor of the Year, 2-time WPRA Stock Contractor of the Year, Prorodeo Hall of Fame Inductee, Canadian Hall of Fame Inductee, Life Member of the Ponoka Stampede, PRCA Man of the Year, National Finals Rodeo Board of Director, Cheyenne Frontier Days Hall of Fame Inductee, Pendleton Round-Up Hall of Fame Inductee, was named The Prorodeo Hall of Fame Legend of Rodeo and so many more.
In addition to being indicted into several rodeo halls of fame, he raised some of the best bucking stock of his time. Some of that stock includes 1976 Bronc of the Year “Sarcee Sorrell,” 1976 Bull of the Year “Panda” 1978 and 1979 bronc of the Year ” Angel Sings “, 1979 and 1980 Bull of the Year “777”, 1981 Bronc of the Year “Rusty”, 1983 Fighting Bull of the Year and Hall of Fame Inductee “Crooked Nose” 1986 Bronc of the Year “Wrangler Savy”, 1991,1992,1993 Bronc of the Year “Bobby Jo Skoal” and 2010 Saddle Bronc of the Year “Painted Valley”.
Harry Vold set his business up to leave a legacy for years to come, which is exactly what happened when his youngest daughter, Kirsten Vold took over the family business in the late 90s. Since then, Kirsten now spends over 200 days out of the year on the rodeo road. I was really excited for the opportunity to sit down and chat with Kirsten about what it’s been like running Vold Rodeo and what plans she has for the future.
Kirsten hadn’t initially planned on taking over her dad’s stock contracting business, but I was able to ask her what it was like in the early years when she first started taking on more responsibility, this is how she responded,
“When I got back to the ranch in the spring of 97, I had had lots of different jobs, but I had never had any kind of managerial type position. At that time, my dad was getting older and was having a harder time managing his crew, even though the crew was great, it can still be really taxing managing different personalities and he was pretty done with it. At that point, I couldn’t imagine anybody else owning the horses and running the ranch. I grew up with those horses and those bloodlines, and part of me felt like they were also my bloodlines.
I remember my dad had told the crew that there was going to be a meeting in the cookhouse and he essentially said, “Kirsten is going to start being a foreman, making decisions around here and that’s just how it’s going to be” There was a couple that worked here at the time that stomped out and said they would never work for me. They ended up getting over it and coming back but looking back on when I started, I was in my early 20s and people had a hard time taking orders from someone so much younger. Everybody tries to make it a girl thing and maybe there was a little of that, but I think mostly it was because of my age.
To overcome that challenge, I did the best thing I knew how to do to work with people that were older than me, which was to just not manage them, but instead, learn from them, work alongside them and work just as hard as them. That was really my biggest challenge, but I wouldn’t be where I’m at without it and also wouldn’t know the things that I do now.” – Kirsten
Of course, in this issue of the magazine, we are celebrating western heritage and culture. I wanted to ask Kirsten if there was anything she has continued doing the exact same way her dad used to, and this was her response,
“The biggest thing that I always say that I hope that I inherited from my dad was his good word. He had a lot of handshake agreements, contracts, and rodeos and I think that’s important to be able to continue that. I just really hope that people can know that my word is good, and they don’t have to question it. That’s probably the number one thing that I try to maintain is my integrity and then make sure that whatever I say, my word is good. If people can’t depend on you for your words, then there’s not much left.” – Kirsten
At this point, we chatted a little bit more about how the western industry is special like that because it’s one of the only industries left that can do business with a good word and a handshake. Kirsten does mention that she has contracts with rodeos, but it was refreshing to hear that there are still folks out there that operate off a good word.
One cool thing that Vold Rodeo started in late 2019 was their Ranch Excursions. These excursions would take place on weekends when Kirsten didn’t have any rodeos but would allow guests to book stays at the ranch to meet the animals and see how things are done. When Covid hit, Kirsten mentions the Ranch Excursions helped bring in income when there weren’t any rodeos, but here’s what she had to say about the Ranch Excursions and what it’s done for her business,
“Covid was something that nobody could have expected or planned for, and it was hard for stock contractors all over the country. Not only did we not have rodeos but we also had a massive feed bill while we were dead in the water. We had started the Ranch Excursions in December of 2019, then all of a sudden, it was our only income. In 2020 we made the most of it and decided to grow and utilize it the best we could. As far as the Ranch Excursions go now, we enjoy doing them when we can, it was a great way to generate a little income but we can’t do them all the time. I use the Ranch Excursions as an opportunity to extend the option for people to come out to the ranch to see the horses and animals in their normal habitat outside of the rodeo. I figured that the majority of my customers would be city slickers that had no experience around horses but it really hasn’t been. The people that have come are actually rodeo fans that really wanted to pursue their knowledge of what goes into rodeo, the animals, and stock contracting.” – Kirsten
We went on to chat about how being a stock contractor is not a job you can just walk into and I asked her what she wished people knew about the bucking horse business and she responded with this,
“I think that the biggest misconception is that people think if we weren’t using them for rodeos, people would have them in their stables and ride them across parks, but that’s just not the case. These animals can be gentle, chute-broke, easy to handle, and well-mannered, but they were born to buck. The bucking horses that are used for rodeo now are bred for this. People are spending a lot of money to get just the right genetics to get great athletes. And they are athletes, they operate on a completely different level than other horses. These aren’t horses that would be used for anything else. But I want people to know that they are well respected and cared for. “ – Kirsten
This was an important piece to our conversation because just as with other stock contractors, Vold Rodeo Company does their fair share of educating folks about rodeo. They take it one step further by opening their ranch for the excursions, but Vold is a great example of transparency when it comes to animal care. All you have to do is scroll through their Facebook posts to see the amount of care that goes into their bucking stock. If you are wanting to learn more about rodeo and what goes on behind the scenes, there are folks out there willing to help.
As I wrapped up the conversation with Kirsten, I did want to ask her about the future held for Vold Rodeo Company and this is what she has up her sleeve for the next several years,
“The biggest goal for me is to just raise the best-bucking horses that I possibly can. You sit back and try to look at what genetics are working, what crosses are working, and what’s throwing good size. As a whole, when I look at our weakness, it’s the size of our horses. They’re not as big as others and big horses are the ones they want to take to the National Finals. My main objective is to get my herd a little more size on them and that’s not an overnight process. We don’t start bucking them until they are five or six years old so we wait around a long time before we can see the product, but it all starts with genetics. Additionally, it’s always great to have more animals at the NFR, but we also want to make sure that at the rodeos we go to, do the best possible job we can. It’s easy in this business to get left behind because it’s just become so competitive. There are so many more contractors than they used to be but not necessarily more rodeos.” – Kirsten
As I wrap this story up, I want to leave you with this final quote from Kirsten. And while she’s specifically talking about the stock contracting business, I think we can apply this mentality to everything we do. It’s one of the reasons I love this industry so much because there are people in it that work hard for everything they do. And if you’re working towards something, keep working. Your hard work will pay off and I think Kirsten Vold, with Vold Rodeo, is a perfect example of that.
In this industry, if you want to work and have a busy schedule, you can’t really do it halfway. You have to give it 100%, everything has to be tip-top, your animals need to be in shape, there’s no room for error and there’s no room for re-rides, it has to be good and it has to be the very best.Kirsten Vold, Owner of Vold Rodeo
You can learn more about Vold Rodeo Company and Kirsten Vold at VoldRodeo.com. All photos supplied by Vold Rodeo.
CLN Community & Event Sponsor