Oregon’s Siddalee Suppah only girl riding broncs at Jr World Finals
She’s small, but she’s mighty.
For the second year in a row, Siddalee Suppah is the only girl to qualify in the peewee division for the roughstock events at the Junior World Finals.
The nine-year-old cowgirl, a resident of Warm Springs, Ore., began riding bareback horses in 2016 at the age of six. Her older brother, Ulysses, was signed up to ride in a junior rodeo but couldn’t because of a broken collarbone. His entry fees couldn’t be refunded, so she got on.
Siddalee had wanted to ride before then, but her aunts, Mia Spino and Paleena Spino, who are her and her siblings’ guardians, hadn’t let her. “Because she was so young, we didn’t let her enter,” Mia said.
At last year’s Junior NFR (now called the Junior World Finals), she rode in the bareback riding. This year, she’s switched to the saddle bronc riding.
Suppah has competed in the Northwest Youth Rodeo Association, and now is a member of the Junior Roughstock Association, based out of Montana. She competes at a minimum of two rodeos a month.
Rodeoing isn’t cheap, and the family works to raise funds for entry fees and travel. The aunts, plus Sid and her brother, bake and sell goodies to family and friends. Banana bread, chocolate chip cookies, sugar cookies, and cupcakes are regulars on the list. “It’s daily, trying to stay up with the fees,” Mia said. Sid loves to bake, with her favorite being chocolate chip cookies.
She is tough, her aunts say. Two years ago, she was kicked in the face by a mare in a horse accident not related to rodeo. It fractured her upper jaw and she lost several front teeth, which took her out of competition at the Northwest Youth Rodeo Finals. But she was right back to rodeo as soon as the doctors cleared her, Mia said.
“I guess you’d say she’s stubborn,” her aunt said. “If we try to pull her from a rodeo, she won’t let us.” Sid is talkative and a natural salesman as she sells baked goods, but behind the chutes she’s quiet. “That’s when she collects herself,” Mia said.
Being one of the only girls in the peewee division of the roughstock events was a little intimidating to her, Mia said, but not for long. She comes from a heritage of determined women. Her great-grandmother, Hazel Tewee, rode race horses with the men as a young woman. Her grandmother, Nellie Spino, rode race horses for her husband, and helped with cattle drives and branding. “We always told her, nobody can tell you you can’t do it because you’re a girl.”
Siddalee works out, doing sit ups with the medicine ball and other exercises to strengthen her core, and practicing on the spur board. She helps with chores around the house, too: dishes, taking care of pets, making the fire, and sweeping and mopping.
She didn’t make a qualified ride at last year’s Junior NFR. The horses she drew were tough, Mia said. She made it about three or four seconds before being bucked off. “She drew some really rank ponies, and they just blew out of the chutes,” Mia said. Sid also does steer riding and calf riding and someday wants to qualify for the Junior World Finals in all three events.
At the end of her ride, she likes to do a little dance, the floss, but she doesn’t always like the attention it draws her. “At the end of every time I ride, I’m always doing a little dance,” she said. “But I wait till everybody puts their phones down.”
Siddalee will wear red and have a red handprint stamped across her mouth, as she rides at the Junior World Finals, in honor of and recognition for the indigenous women who go missing or are murdered at reservations across the nation. The family is members of the Warm Springs Confederated Indian tribe, and Siddalee has had two female family members – an aunt and a cousin- murdered the neice of an uncle by marriage is missing. “She is helping spread awareness for the movement,” Mia said. “There is not as much exposure as there should be about it.” Sid wears a red shirt, with #MMIW printed on it. The MMIW stands for missing and murdered indigenous women. The red handprint across the mouth symbolizes the women who have been silenced because they are missing or because of their death.
Some studies have shown that Native women face murder rates that are 10 times higher than the national average. Recent reports by the Urban Indian Health Institute identified 506 cases of missing and murdered indigenous women across 71 urban cities.
She’ll have fun at the Junior World Finals, which are held in Las Vegas Dec. 5-10. Last year, the family did a bit of sightseeing, and this year, she’d like to ride the roller coaster at the New York New York casino.
She is a fourth grade student at Warm Springs K-8 Academy. When she grows up, she’d like to be a professional saddle bronc rider, a wildland firefighter (like her uncle), or a professional WWE or Smackdown wrestler.
Siddalee and Ulysses have twin siblings, five-year-olds Cynthia and Alonso. Mia’s boyfriend Joseph Starr, Sr., is also helping to raise the kids.
More information on the Junior World Finals can be found online at http://www.juniorroughstockworld.com.