Passion for horses and agriculture: Piedmont cowgirl wins Lloyd W. Rypkema Memorial Horse Award |

Passion for horses and agriculture: Piedmont cowgirl wins Lloyd W. Rypkema Memorial Horse Award

Karlie Kammerer never thought she’d ever use grammar lessons in her life, and lamented to her mom about the boring topic.

But it was solid grammar, in the form of a biographical submission, that won the Piedmont, S.D. cowgirl the 2022 Lloyd W. Rypkema Memorial Horse Award.

For her efforts, the fourteen-year-old cowgirl, the seventh generation on the ranch near Piedmont, S.D., took home a sorrel filly, born last year, with Frenchmans Guy, Leo, Sugar Bars and Laughing Boy in her pedigree.

“Science, math, and history are her thing,” said her mom, Jimmie Kammerer. “Then she wrote a paper that won her a colt, so those skills are important. It was a homeschool mom win.”

Karlie is on her way to being an accomplished horsewoman.

She competes in local playdays in the barrels, poles, flag race and breakaway. She also drives teams, after having seen it done on a trip with her grandmother to DeSmet, S.D. about four years ago.

It was a slow day at the Laura Ingalls Wilder site she and her grandmother were visiting, so the gentleman giving pony and cart rides offered to let her drive.

From then on, she bugged her parents to buy a pony and a cart. Ironically, her dad had wanted to drive a team too, so they borrowed what they needed and she learned to drive. Then she and her dad trained her black mare to pull a cart, and they have been in the Days of ’76 parade in Deadwood, in the Black Hills Roundup parade in Belle Fourche, and around the ranch. Since then, they’ve added two more teams of Percherons for pulling.

“It’s really fun,” Jimmie said. “A ten-year-old little girl’s dreams re-ignited my husband’s dream of doing this. When a kid asks you to do something with as much enthusiasm as Karlie has, you can’t say no.”

Younger sister Katelyn is the Miss Black Hills Roundup princess, and both girls help around the ranch. When Jimmie had the couple’s third child, another daughter, Kymbal, two and a half years ago, Karlie stepped up to help on the family ranch. “She filled my position, and I got demoted to the Toyota horse. She can do anything around the ranch. She’s our top hand around here.”

The family even won a ranch rodeo contest last August, held at the Butte/Lawrence County Fair in Nisland.

The ranch rodeo was geared towards family, and Riley wanted his wife and two older daughters to enter.

It was scheduled for the end of fair week, and Jimmie was tired from fair activities. “I kept trying to get out of it, and he kept saying, no, we’re going to do it.” Nobody took them seriously, she said. “We were one guy and three girls, and us three girls aren’t much to look at,” she joked. “God gave us a heart for agriculture but he didn’t give us the physique.”

But the Kammerer team won! Jimmie credits it, in part, to them working together on the ranch. “We truck pairs forty miles in three directions, spring and fall,” she said. “We work as a team. We do it together, so we’re the real deal.” All four of them were awarded buckles for their effort.

Karlie loves horses, and attended a Curt Pate Stockmanship clinic last November, starting her mom’s two-year-old gelding at the clinic. “I did a lot of groundwork with him,” she said. “I saddled him up and got on, and he bucked me off twice but I got back on.” That was the first horse Karlie’s started.

She already has a name for the horse she’s won through the Rypkema Award: Vegas, to go along with another horse in the Kammerer barn named Reno.

“I think I’m going to train her and ride her,” Karlie said. “I want to go to our county fair shows and I would love to go with her to the bigger AQHA shows. I know she is well bred so it will be a lot of fun to train her and work with her. I’ll definitely ride her a lot on the ranch.”

Karlie and her family have a tie to the late Lloyd Rypkema. He helped a young woman, Deb Black, and now Deb has helped Karlie and her younger sister, Katelyn, with horsemanship, horses and rodeo queening. “Lloyd took Deb under his wing and helped her,” Jimmie said. “And Deb has helped my kids. If you want to change the world, invest in a kid. It’s all coming back around.”

Karlie has also expressed an interest in grasses and grassland, and hopes to study range science in college. “I’m really interested in grasslands and how to improve them,” she said. “I love animals and that’s a big part of it.” She’d like to earn a business degree as well and move to Montana: “middle-of-nowhere, Montana, and have a ranch. I love the trees, the mountains, the valleys and the grass.”

Jimmie and Riley’s oldest daughter loves agriculture, her mother said. “She loves ag and she loves adventure. She’s always been willing to go on adventures, and she’ll take risks, even getting on her mom’s two-year-old colt at a clinic,” she chuckled. “She’s not afraid and she has a good attitude.

“We’re very proud of her. She’s a very hard-working good-hearted kid. We’re so grateful she had this opportunity.”

The Lloyd W. Rypkema Memorial Horse Award is open to youth ages 12-18 who live in South Dakota, North Dakota, Wyoming, Montana and Nebraska. It is given in honor of Rypkema, a Pennington County rancher and businessman who helped many young people and ranchers get started in agriculture, running cattle or horses on a share basis. The registered Quarter Horse colt that is given away annually carries bloodlines from Lloyd’s horse program. Rypkema passed away in 2010.

Karlie in the roping pen. The Piedmont, S.D. teenager ropes, runs barrels, and does poles at local playdays. Kammerer family
Courtesy photo
In addition to horses, Karlie and her younger sister, Katelyn, show steers at the local county fair. Kammerer family
Courtesy photo
The Kammerer family in the Black Hills Round-Up parade. In addition to her rodeo events, Karlie can drive a team of horses. Kammerer family
Courtesy photo
The Kammerer family in the Nisland Fair and Rodeo Ranch Rodeo.
Driving a team is just another of Karlie's talents.
Karlie's younger sister was the Black Hills Roundup Princess.

South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem stands with Karlie Kammerer as she accepts the certificate for winning a 2021 sorrel filly with bloodlines that go back to the late Lloyd W. Rypkema’s herd. Photo by Scott Dirk

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