In July, Natalie Overholt dominated a field of some of the toughest rodeo competitors in the country at the Ellicottville, New York, IPRA rodeo. Calling Burr Oak, Mich., home, Overholt has spent much of her life up and down the rodeo circuit. Not just a competitor, she trains most of her own horses and has a lot of wisdom to show for it. In this five part series on this multiple time International Finals Rodeo qualifier who’s currently sitting in the top 20 in the IPRA World Rankings, Overholt talks about her own riding, training and ethical philosophies, plus she touches on some extras that help her get down the road each week. A rodeo cowgirl by trade, Overholt has made a life and a career out of living on the road.
When did you start running barrel horses?
I started riding and doing peewees at horse shows since before I can remember. I got my first “fast” pony when I was four or five. I got my first barrel horse when I was nine and entered my first rodeo at nine.
Who taught you to ride?
Mostly my dad and older sisters and brother. They just put me on a horse and said, “go.”
Why barrel racing, instead of anything else?
That is what I grew up doing and seems to be what I’ve always stuck with. I also like breakaway and team roping but I don’t do it very often.
What has been your biggest accomplishment to date on the back of a horse?
Probably having to learn how to ride a bunch of different horses over the years.
Do you hold any arena records?
I think I hold the arena record at Crossroads Arena in Cloverdale, Ind. In 1991 I set the arena record at the Northeast Regional finals in Wilmington, Mass., but have no idea if it still holds.
What horse have you had the most success on?
Mr Liberty Bob – He was a very fast and talented bay gelding I ran when I was 9 to 14 years old. I won a lot of rodeos on him and qualified for the IFR 2 times, won the average at IFR 22 and won the Northeast region and many other accomplishments.
What is the biggest check you’ve ever taken home in a single weekend?
What does your family think of your rodeo life?
Not sure what they think. I think they wish I would stay closer to home more often and get more colts rode.