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Rangerettes: A Colorado Springs Tradition since 1957

Precision Riders Prepare for Pikes Peak or Bust Rodeo

One of the highlights of the annual Pikes Peak or Bust Rodeo is watching the Rangerettes, a group of precision riders who just happen to be 12- to 20-year-old girls.

“The girls are not just pretty faces,” said Director Chris Herman. “They are all cowgirls at heart. They work hard and do not give up when things get rough. They are true horsemen and work to perfect the partnership between themselves, their horse, and their teammates.”

This year, the elite team will ride in five parades, perform in 10 rodeos including Pikes Peak or Bust and attend multiple other western events. In short, they are ambassadors to western values.

The Girls

To try out for the team, a girl must be invited by a Range Rider, drill master or current Rangerette to attend practice as a guest and pass a safety test on her horse. After she attends an orientation and participates in at least three practices, the drillmaster may invite her to test for the team.

The Rangerettes began this season with only four girls returning from the previous year. Those four—Aneka Normandie, Amelia Tilden, Maddy Norton and Hailey Herman—are this season’s officers, helping lead an 18-member team. (Bylaws limit the maximum team size to 20 for safety.)

Aneka has been riding horses since she was six years old. Four years ago, she joined the Rangerettes. “It was really seeing my sister try out and bond with the team that made me want to try out," says Aneka, now 16. “Plus, all the shiny outfits and glitter didn’t hurt.”

She has learned “amazing leadership skills” and valuable lessons, including how to handle anxiety before a big performance or event. But her favorite part of the program is all the long-lasting friendships she has made.

Hailey, 14, agrees. “When becoming a Rangerette, I didn’t just get 17 new teammates, I got 17 new sisters.”

Maddy, 15, says she was "very introverted" when she started as a Rangerette two years ago and has gained priceless confidence from being part of the group. "My favorite part is the way that Rangerettes makes you go out of your comfort zone."

An Honored Tradition

The Pikes Peak Range Riders formed the Rangerettes in 1957 when PPRR member Mark Reiner proposed creating a drill team made up of Range Riders’ daughters and granddaughters. The group promotes the Pikes Peak or Bust Rodeo and always has been heavily involved in the community.

The total number of Rangerettes apparently never has been tracked, but hundreds of girls have been part of the organization over the years. The newest additions: Cassidy Erway, Skilly DeLoach, Madison Finlay-Wagner, Kailyn Deline, Makena Norton, Courtney Edwards, Finnley Duvall, Delaney Fields, Gretta Dickson, Bethany Grint, Abigail Pearce, Alysa Reddecliff, Izzy Colodny and Mady Warner.

With so many new members, Drill Master Grant Durham and Assistant Drill Master Anna Durham have been working tirelessly to prepare the girls for their many events. 

The Rangerettes is the number one producer of eligible candidates for the Girl of the West, with 37 former Rangerettes going on to become rodeo queens. Four former members also have become Miss Rodeo Colorado. 

Their biggest event is Pikes Peak or Bust Rodeo, which got even bigger and more prestigious this year.

Pikes Peak or Bust

Pikes Peak or Bust will host the National Finals Rodeo Open in 2022. That means a $1 million purse – one of the top-paying rodeos in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association circuit. Only the top ranked cowboys and cowgirls in each circuit will be invited to compete. Get your tickets soon. Organizers expect sell-out crowds.

“The excitement for the Rangerettes about the rodeo is beyond words!” Herman says. “This is the event they work so hard for and it’s a chance for all of them to show off the fruits of their labor. The Rangerettes get to open the rodeo this year, busting into the area at approximately 6:48 pm every night.”

The week of PPOB is exhausting for Rangerettes (and their parents), Herman says. "We begin nightly practice and grand entry practice on the Sunday before the rodeo. ... They run in all five rodeos at PPOB, as well as attend the Girls of the West Banquet, assist with the mutton bustin' and sign autographs nightly."

Exhausted or not, the girls love it! 

Rangerette officer Amelia Tilden, 15, has been riding her horse, Abigail, at least six hours per week, preparing. "I am very excited to perform at Pikes Peak or Bust because the crowd is one of my favorites!"

Aneka adds, “Pikes Peak or Bust is the most special and important rodeo in the world to me and keeps me motivated through anything. It is so special to me because it is at PPOB that girls tend to bond the most and ride the hardest. The atmosphere of the crowd is unlike anything you have ever experienced before.”

Facebook: @pikespeakrangerettes