Feature by: Bonnie Wheatley
Kassidy Dennison made her presence felt at the recent National Finals Rodeo as both a go round winner and a top 10 finisher in the 2014 Women's Professional Rodeo Association World standings. By virtue of finishing her season strong, Dennison is qualified to compete at the richest one-day rodeo in the world, RFD-TV's THE AMERICAN presented by Polaris RANGER in Arlington, Texas, March 1, 2015. Dennison will ride her NFR mount, the 10-year-old bay gelding she calls “Eagle.”
“I am really looking forward to competing at THE AMERICAN, I'm really excited. I didn't know much about it last year and by the time I figured it out there was only one qualifier left so I was pretty upset with myself for not planning to attend qualifiers sooner in the year. I just didn't really think about it, but this year I'm very excited to go and that it worked out by virtue of doing well enough to finish in the top 10,” says Dennison.
Her equine partner Eagle is registered with the American Quarter Horse Association as Sierra Hall Of Fame. Eagle was recognized by the ladies of the WPRA with The Rising Star Award, presented annually by former NFR qualifier Lana Merrick in honor of her NFR qualifying mount Scoti Flit Bar. The award is determined by a vote of the Top 15 and awarded to a first-time NFR qualifier.
Dennison thinks the qualification system established by RFD-TV will ensure a particularly compelling level of competition at THE AMERICAN.
“It's going to be exciting to go and compete against all the different qualifiers who advance to compete there from all across the country. Plus, it will be interesting to compete against the top male riders who make it there, too.”
Dennison credits the people around her who help and support her for making it possible for her to live out her dream of competing as an elite rodeo athlete. Her family, all of whom have rodeoed, consist of mom, Debbie; dad, Karl and her older sister, Devyn, and older brother, Kyle.
“I'm pretty lucky to have supportive parents who have pushed me to excel in whatever area I want to succeed,” says Dennison. “My dad ropes and was a rodeo coach, my mom ran barrels, my brother ropes and is a special education teacher and just a very motivational, inspirational person. My sister, Devyn, is a media arts major and graphic designer and they all play a special role in what I do. My boyfriend, Clint Whipple, and I ranch in South Dakota as well as invest in real estate. We split up our time between Arizona and New Mexico, where my parents are from, but right now we're enjoying Arizona.”
Incidentally, Dennison is the first member of the Navajo Nation to have qualified for the NFR in barrel racing.