There is no such thing as a ‘typical day’ for 4-time National Finals Rodeo Qualifier, Jessica Routier who says she is normally “running in 18 different directions.” The pro-athlete who currently sits among the top 30 barrel racers in the nation is also a pro-mom.
Middle school basketball games, trick riding events, High School Rodeo Finals, kids rodeo, a community of 280 residents, or a stadium with nearly 19-thousand spectators: those are just a few of the places you might have run into Routier this month. Jessica and her husband Riley are kept busy by their five kids, family ranch, and Jessica’s rodeo schedule.
“It is a huge group effort around here,” said Jessica.
Many who know Jessica, also know her children. That’s because where she goes, they often follow. Whether they be horseback for seasonal ranch activities, competing at local jackpots and futurities, or Pro Rodeo events, Jessica often travels with her kids in tow.
“The littles (7-year old twins, Rayna and Rose, and 6-year-old Charlie) go as much as they can,” said Routier, “but the older ones (14-year-old Peyton and 16-year-old Braden) usually have other activities going on.”
The Older Ones
For Peyton Routier, volleyball, basketball, trick riding, and rodeo take most of her time. At the time of this article, she is competing in Perry, Georgia for the Junior High School National Finals accompanied by her dad. Jessica says Peyton has been focused on breakaway roping following her successes as a trick rider.
“Trick riding takes a lot of time and a lot of practice,” said Jessica. “She’s found that it’s kind of a lonely sport.”
Braden Routier is a rodeo competitor as well. He had just finished up at the High School Finals Rodeo, and keeps himself busy with ranch work while Riley is traveling with Peyton. He also plays football and basketball during the school year.
Jessica will take off again in a few days, Riley and Peyton will head to Little Britches Rodeo following JR High Finals, and Braden will be busy making hay at the ranch.
“There is no way I could do what I do without living in the community we live in.” said Routier.
Buffalo, South Dakota – Population 280
“We’re really remote,” says Jessica.
Routier Ranch is 70 miles from the closest WalMart, and 110 miles from the closest airport. Jessica says much of what she does is because of the group effort of not only her family, but the members of the community as well. You might be surprised at how many NFR qualifiers you can find in that small ranching community in Harding County, South Dakota.
“Whether you are trying to make it to the NFR or out ranching, everyone helps everyone so much,” Jessica says.
The next few months of the Summer Run are actually an advantage to living in South Dakota. The 4th of July run through Mandan, Mobridge, Belle Fourche, and Cody are all ‘close to home’ for the Routier Family. Jessica says she will take off for 3-10 days at a time before returning home for a few down days, and the younger kids will most likely travel with her.
Potty Training on the Road
Jessica points out that parenting on the rodeo road isn’t uncommon. “It’s a family sport, and that’s what I love about it,” says Jessica.
She says the key to traveling with the littles is giving herself a lot of extra time. “You never know when someone is going to need something,” she says. Jessica recalls a time she was potty training the one of the younger girls and headed to a rodeo and if it hadn’t been for a thunderstorm that delayed the event, she would have missed it due to frequent bathroom breaks on the way.
“I love having them with me,” said Jessica “It’s a lot less lonely.”
She says there are days when it feels like everything is a cluttered up mess, but in the long run, she would rather have her kids traveling with her than not.
“It is hard to be mad when you have a bad run and come home to the trailer where there are three little girls telling you that you did an awesome job,” she says “I couldn’t do it if I had to be out there by myself.”
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