Triple V Rodeo Company carrying on tradition
Decked out in shining silver and sharp black aboard her draft-sized black and white paint, Dona Vold Larsen is a woman in a cowboy’s world, but she holds her own.
Larsen, of Casper, Wyoming, is from a rodeo stock contracting family. She, with her husband Bill, is a third of Triple V Rodeo Company; the other two-thirds is made up of her siblings, Darce Vold, of Colorado, and Doug Vold, of Alberta, Canada.
Her father, Harry Vold, is the only PRCA Stock Contractor to have broncs or bulls at all National Finals Rodeos since the first rodeo in 1959. He turned 92 last month.
“The man has seen about everything,” Larsen said of her father. “You can’t hardly stump him with a question. He’s been inducted into the Pro Rodeo and Cowboy Hall of Fame.”
Larsen’s admiration toward Vold is apparent.
“He’s not involved in our business, but he’s absolutely the man to go to when looking for advice on every subject, business, rodeo-related, bucking horse-related,” Larsen said. “He’s our all-around man to go to for advice. He still rides a horse, still runs the business, and is still on the NFR Commission.”
Triple V Rodeo Company was honored with Stock Contractor of the Year 2015 by the Women’s Professional Rodeo Association at the NFR in December.
“It was a very thrilling experience to be recognized by women of WPRA,” Larsen said. “I truly value the barrel racing event in the rodeo. I think it’s an exciting event. These gals are fearless, and they ride magnificent horse flesh.”
Triple V supplies stock and entertainment for a smattering of rodeo events and levels, including high school and college, PRCA and ranch rodeos.
In 1995, Triple V Rodeo Co., along with the Ray Owen family, contracted the stock at the Cody Nite Rodeo in Cody, Wyoming, in which they do one a night for 90 consecutive days, with the exception of a few nights off for Independence Day.
“People asked me, didn’t you get bored or tired? I couldn’t wait for 8:30 every night,” Larsen said of her experience in Cody. “I had our bulls there and I was flanking them. I couldn’t wait to see what some bulls were going to do. Sometimes they’re going to surprise you; they might do anything; they’re going to do it their way.”
Larsen pours effort and heart into each event, whether she is putting on the rodeo or supplying stock. There is more to preparing for a rodeo than people may realize, she said.
“The two-and-a-half hours in the arena is the easiest part,” Larsen said. “There’s preparation of horses and cattle. The bulls are all sorted, fed well and grained, and seven pounds of grain are fed to the horses plus hay; they can’t be too full, can’t be too empty.”
Not only do the bucking stock need to be readied, but also the saddle horses and apparel.
“We have to do wardrobe for the crew, get shirts irons, scarves pressed; make sure chaps are all clean. We have to have good horses for the judges to ride, blankets and saddles are on clean, silver bits are polished,” Larsen said. “Every horse we turn out in the arena is well appointed.”
Bucking stock are also prepared months, even years, before their first rodeos.
“We don’t touch horses and bulls until they are four years old,” Larsen said. “We start by chute-breaking them. They first need to be comfortable in the bucking chute, ready to buck.”
Larsen said there’s good reason for preparing their animals in the chute.
“If they’re worried, scared, flipping, or anxious, they aren’t thinking about bucking. We put a bronc halter on and tie them in, then saddle them. The first time out is in a bronc halter and floppy old saddle to see where the perimeters of arena are. On the third trip, they get a cowboy and flank strap,” Larsen said.
They do the same for the bulls, she said. No flank strap for the first two times out of the chute.
Larsen said there is a second place for their stock to be comfortable.
“It’s in the stripping chute, where we take off the saddle or bareback rigging and pull the flank off the bulls, and get them through the out-gate,” Larsen said. “We want them to be quiet and calm there and go to their pen. Every time we go to an arena, we thread the horses through the in-gate and out-gate. It speeds production and is easier on the stock.”
The work is not for naught, according to Larsen.
“I think a person is proud of every performance you put on if you’re proud of your horses, if you have a stirring patriotic opening and closing, and an opportunity to make the rodeo fan happy,” Larsen said. “We treasure family and want to give them a place to bring their small and adult children.”
The thrill of seeing her animals perform to their potential is “incredible” to Larsen.
“I like nothing better than watching good horses and good bulls buck,” she said. “I don’t always want the cowboys to get bucked off. A good ride is as thrilling as seeing them get bucked off.”
Lance Hladky, of Casper, Wyoming, steps on Larsen’s bucking horses several times throughout the summer at ranch rodeos. He appreciates the quality of Larsen’s horses.
“They’re true, honest bucking horses,” Hladky said. “Her horses are the ones you want to get on. They’re fun, and nothing too dirty. The performance of the horses speak for themselves.”
After a lifetime in the rodeo industry, Larsen know what it takes to love the job.
“You’ve got to like and love it or you can’t do it,” she said. “Most stock contractors love animals, love their bulls, love their saddle horses. The hired cowboys are happy. You can’t be in a grumpy mood, you’re in entertainment. There’s no time to be grumpy, cranky, you can’t even be tired, you just go and go and go.”