SILT — Tina and Cassandra Collins of Silt have made a life out of riding horses. How the mother and daughter rode hasn’t always been the same, though.
“We used to show horses,” Tina Collins said, who added with a laugh that “then, we didn’t want to show horses anymore because it wasn’t nearly as fun as the rodeo.”
This summer will mark the 18th year that Tina, 50, and Cassandra, 26, have barrel raced together. The two Garfield County rodeo mainstays will compete together tonight at a mainstay rodeo event when the Carbondale Wild West Rodeo opens at Gus Darien Arena.
It’s the kickoff event for a summer rodeo series, which runs each Thursday through Aug. 21. It’s the 12th year for the weekly rodeo series, with slack starting at 6 p.m. and the main performance beginning at 7:30 p.m.
As much fun as the event might be for fans and participants, it’s also great mother-daughter bonding. Through it all, including the past eight years, the Collinses have been competing in Carbondale, and the relationship between Tina and Cassandra has only gotten stronger.
“It’s great,” Cassandra Collins said. “My mom is my best friend, and we go all over the place together. I was pretty much born on a horse, and I have her to thank for that.”
So naturally, the Collinses can’t wait to get back into the arena. Neither can their horses.
“Both of our horses are what’s called push horses,” Tina explained. “If we go to one of these events where there’s no crows, no hype and no stimulus, they don’t run as hard. They’re the kind of horses that need to be pumped up ... so the rodeo scene is where they do the best.”
“And in Carbondale, that really happens,” Cassandra added. “You go into that big, long, dark alley, run into the lights and have that big crowd cheering, it definitely gets them running faster. They get excited, they know what they’re there for, they know their jobs and they have a lot of fun.”
Barrel racing wasn’t always the first choice for Tina Collins when she moved to New Castle in 1987. She started team roping with her husband, Todd, and later competed in the all-around cowgirl competition at the Snowmass Rodeo on her now 17-year-old mare, Cheynohah. In trying to win the all-around title in Snowmass, she realized she had to start barrel racing to accumulate enough points to win the belt buckle.
“That first year, she ran barrels perfect,” Tina said of Cheynohah. “That’s her job. That’s what he likes to do, and I’ve been riding and running on her ever since.”
Cassandra latched on to the barrel-racing idea not long afterward, but her start wasn’t on barrels, either. She began as an 8-year-old roper who, like her mom, also showed horses. The family trips to do roping in Arizona during the winter only added to her interest, and she started running barrels as a 4-H participant.
Eventually, Tina stopped competing in team-roping events to focus only on barrels. Cassandra followed suit on her now-13-year-old horse, Sadie, who Tina rode in barrel racing for a full year while Cheynohah was sidelined from a surgery.
Sadie, however, didn’t take to Tina as quickly as she developed a relationship with Cassandra. Sadie isn’t quite as fast as Cheynohah, but she makes enough consistent barrel runs to occasionally get Cassandra a paycheck.
Tina Collins was one of the top barrel racers of last year’s Carbondale rodeos and was one of three riders to pull in more than $1,000 in earnings over the summer ($1,550 to be exact). She’s part of a saturated barrel-racing field that includes returning series champion Ronnie Will of Silt. Will brought home $2,644 from Carbondale last year but has won some bigger checks lately, including an $841.78 payday for her eighth-place finish April 12 in Logandale, Nev.
Also in the series is 15-year-old Sydney Surin of Silt, a soon-to-be Glenwood Springs High School sophomore who won $2,354 in Carbondale last year. Earlier this year, she was the youngest barrel racer to compete in the semifinals for The American, which took place at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, (formerly Cowboys Stadium) and paid out $2 million, the most money in professional rodeo history.
Another competitor who is expected to return and perform well is Quinton Hayden, who ran away with a belt buckle as the series’ top bull rider last summer with $5,985 in total earnings from the event.