Rodeo is in the blood for the Nutter family
The Tim and Sherrie Nutter family hang their cowboy hats “out in the Valley” of rural Rapid City, South Dakota, but they never stay on the rack very long. Someone’s always grabbing one and dashing out the door. Often all four grab theirs and head for a rodeo, adding boots, ropes, spurs, horses, horse feed, pickup and trailer, and hearts full of competitive, excited joy.
Last weekend they pulled that drill, ending up in Torrington, Wyoming for two days of Little Britches rodeos put on by the Torrington Elks. Their outfit was even more heavily laden on the return trip, with several trophy belt buckles Rio and Laramie had won plus a few practice calves (picked up en route home near Chimney Rock, Nebraska) to help the kids hone their arena skills even finer.
The Nutter name has long been synonymous with rodeo across the Dakota/Nebraska plains and beyond, where the Senior crowd remembers watching well-mounted Glenn Nutter turn in some classy times in single steer roping more than a half century ago. A new generation, namely 9-year-old Laramie and her brother 13-year-old Rio Nutter, is keeping fans on the edges of grandstand seats today.
“It’s my eighth year rodeoing,” the polite lad explains, and he’s not prejudiced toward any certain events or associations. Already a veteran in National Little Britches and South Dakota 4-H Rodeo, the 7th-grader broke into the National Junior High Rodeo Association last year; plus the team roping world knows him as a card holder in Wrangler, USTRC and NTR. He’s as comfortable heeling as heading, roping either end on a teenaged sorrel gelding named Sesquanto – also used by Tim for heeling.
Not all the rodeo blood came through the Nutter line. Rio’s grandpa Bill Peterson from Valentine, Nebraska is a longtime competitor who still swings a mean loop and keeps his grandson well mounted on Stick, semi-retired in his 20s, and Tag, about the same age, along with Gunnie Boy. There’s been no need for Rio to seek out rodeo schools for training because it was all built in with his dad and both grandfathers.
Then there’s their mom’s side. Laramie and Rio’s mom Sherrie Brennan grew up in a family of eight, enjoying 4-H and showing cattle and sheep in the North Dakota badlands country near Amidon where her family ranched. Being horseback, working cattle and following roughstock-riding brothers to rodeos as long as she can remember prepared her well to be a key player on the 2016 Nutter team.
“Growing up in those little country schools, I never thought I’d be sending my kids to town school,” she laughs. Laramie (also an arena veteran since the age of 5) attends 3rd grade at Valley View, where she says there’s about 25 in her home room, but a total of 100 in her class. Rio, looking forward to the end of his 7th grade adventures at East Middle School, says his class numbers 160. Both siblings list “PE” as their favorite class, with Laramie eagerly adding “reading”.
Living on a rural property with horses, calves, and rabbits keeps them “country” and they all cherish the sport of rodeo and the lifestyle it enables them to follow. The Torrington trip made Laramie anxious about baby rabbits due at home, but she made it home in time for the delivery. And once she climbed on Rooster, the black horse she shares with Rio, there was nothing on her mind but clocking a winning time in the flag race. Sadie is the Paint mare that speeds Laramie around the poles and barrels, and she’s very grateful for that ride.
“My friend Callie Odenback took her out of retirement for me to compete on,” she says, “and that is pretty amazing.” Especially since barrel racing is one of her favorite events, ranking right up there next to goat tail tying. Laramie’s age keeps her out of the roping at this point, “But after this year I can rope in Little Britches,” she says, “and I’ll rope in Junior 4-H Rodeo this year.”
A high point for the family is team roping together. Sherrie heads, while Tim, Rio and Laramie all practice to become proficient at either end. You can expect to find them in any one of the regional roping arenas, just enjoying the togetherness of their lifestyle.
Tim is on the road a lot with work, and Sherrie is grateful to have a home office where her niche is small acreages and horse properties through her broker Joe Nutter, Tim’s uncle, and his 35-year old business Y Land Brokers, Inc. “The business headquarters is North Platte,” she says, “And I have a branch office right at our home.”
“We are so blessed to have the rural experience living out there in the Valley and participating in the many rodeos nearby. There are actually four Little Britches franchises with rodeos quite near us – the Black Hills, Northern Hills, Southern Hills and Badlands,” Sherrie says. “And Torrington is one of our favorites.”
The camaraderie and family feeling stretches beyond the arena as contestants camp, barbecue, swim and play together when on the road, with pizza parties, world class dummy ropings and rip-roaring water fights. “Even when we take our kids to the NFR their biggest thing is getting all their water ballons and dummy ropes ready for the competitions they’ll have with their friends when we get there,” Sherrie says. “We just feel so blessed in those relationships.”
“Rodeo’s just great,” Rio adds, “It’s all around family oriented, and our friends and God are involved.
Laramie agrees, “It’s like Rio said, we are developing so many long-lasting friendships and I really appreciate it.”