It’s Fiesta Time: Cowgirl Piper Cordes rides SD ‘Girl’ Quarter Horse Association High School Horse of the Year

By Ruth Nicolaus for Tri-State Livestock News

Piper Cordes knows she has a special horse.

Her gray gelding, Fiestas Cantina, “Fiesta” is the 2022 South Dakota Quarter Horse Association High School Horse of the Year, ridden by a girl.

Piper Cordes and Fiestas Cantina, “Fiesta” round the barrel in the second go of the 2022 National High School Finals. The gelding is the 2022 SDQHA High School Horse of the Year ridden by a girl winner. Accentric Rodeo | Courtesy photo

Piper, a junior at Wall, S.D. High School, rides the coming eight-year-old in the barrels and poles in not only high school rodeo but in 4-H rodeo and the South Dakota Rodeo Association.

Fiesta came to be because of a long-time friendship between Piper’s maternal grandparents, Malcom and Nola Price of Wasta, S.D. and Alan Woodbury, Dickinson.

Malcom and Nola have their own history with horses. They bred, raised and trained Mito Silver Bell “Ruby,” the 2003 AQHA High School Horse of the Year, and Captains Darkie, “Doc,” who was inducted into the 2022 Casey Tibbs Cowboy Hall of Fame.

Fiestas Cantina is out of Rosas Cantina CC and by Fiestas Gotta Gun.

His dam, Rosa, has lifetime earnings of over $420,000 and is a six-time National Finals Rodeo qualifier, Calgary Stampede champion, Badlands Circuit Finals average champion, Champions Challenge winner, RFD-TV’s The American finalist, and a futurity money winner.

Woodbury approached Malcom and Nola, Paige’s parents, about giving them an embryo from Rosa.

“We were given the opportunity because of the friendship,” Paige said. “That’s when my dad came to me and said, what about this embryo?”

That was in 2011, before Rosa had begun to rack up the money and the wins.

But for the Cordes’ it was the right thing to do. Alan “knows horses, and he knows good horses,” Paige said. “We couldn’t let this opportunity pass.”

Woodbury’s connection with Nola Price goes back to when she was a little girl. He worked on Jim and Janet Weekes’, ranch, near McIntosh, S.D. The Weekes’ are Nola’s parents. “He was like a brother to her,” Paige said.

Woodbury hoped they would get a filly, “so they could raise horses for their grandchildren, but they got a stud and gelded him. I wish it would have been a filly, but it wasn’t, and we can’t change that.”

Piper’s dad Spencer did research, deciding what to breed to.

Fiestas Gotta Gun “has a great brain and a great disposition,” Paige said, “and that’s what Spencer wanted, along with more of the cow-horse type breeding, so it wasn’t speed on speed. He wanted a great horse for a young girl.”

Fiesta was started by Emily Pauley, with Piper doing slow work on him, and using him for ranch work, too.

He’s begun his own list of accomplishments. In the barrels, he and Piper won high school regionals this summer, plus all three rounds at the state high school finals. Prior to the National High School Finals, Piper suffered a concussion, unsure she would be cleared to ride at Nationals. She was released to compete the week prior, which caused her and Fiesta to lose some momentum.

In the second round at Nationals, she finished sixth, and in the short go, ended up in tenth hole. For the 2021-2022 season, Piper finished thirteenth in the world.

Piper and Fiesta at the 2022 Wall High School Rodeo in the poles. Mama Law Photos | Courtesy photos
Piper wins the 2022 State 4-H Finals senior division barrel racing aboard Fiesta. Paige Cordes | Courtesy photo

At state 4-H finals, she won the barrels in the senior division, and finished in third place for the 2022 SDRA season.

Piper loves her mount.

“He’s very smooth riding and intelligent. He’s a very reliable horse, and I’m thankful for that.”

Woodbury has seen the horse run in person once and on TV for National High School Finals a few times.

“That horse moves his feet special and doesn’t waste any time,” he said. “He’s a very nice horse, and (Piper) is going to earn a lot of winnings on him. I’m very happy for them.”

The Cordes family appreciates Fiesta.

“We’re so blessed, I just can’t tell you,” Paige said. “Horses like that don’t come along very often, maybe once in a lifetime. We are blessed with the responsibility of owning him, and we look towards the future, to see he and Piper can do.”

Piper and Fiesta in the short round of the 2022 National High School Finals. Fiesta’s dam is Rosas Cantina CC, “Rosa.” Accentric Rodeo | Courtesy photo