She rocks and rolls: Rocksie Marchand, 9, earns spot in American Semi-Finals

Rocksie Marchand stands with her barrel racing horse, Roo, after winning the 2017 open barrel racing at the Indian National Finals Rodeo. Her championship earned her a spot in the semi-finals for RFD-TV’s American Rodeo at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. Photo by Nikki Boyd

At the age of nine, Rocksie Marchand is the youngest person to ever win an Indian National Finals Rodeo world championship, and with her win in the open barrel racing, she has secured a spot in the semi-finals for RFD-TV’s American in 2018.

Rocksie, the daughter of Ashley Zacherle, a former jockey, was riding horses by the time she was three years old, and began barrel racing shortly after that.

She bought her current barrel racing horse, Roo, with her own money earned in part by riding ponies to be sold at the Hermiston, Ore. horse sale. She came home with $800 from the sale, and more sale ponies to ride.

She and her mom Ashley, dad Justus, and two younger sisters, Hartlyn, age four, and Gracyn, age two, live in Wilbur, Wash., about 65 miles west of Spokane, and are members of the Colville Confederated Tribes.

Convincing her mom to let her buy Roo was tough. Roo was the fastest horse Rocksie had been on, and Ashley was worried. “It was really nerve wracking when she first wanted to ride Roo, because he’s so fast,” Ashley said. “She rode him a week before I found out she was riding him. The only way I agreed to let her buy him is if she wore a helmet.”

Roo, whose registered name is Moneys on the Redmond, and Rocksie make a good pair. At first Roo was anxious, but Rocksie learned how to relax her hands and keep him calm. “The two of them mellow each other out,” Ashley said.

Ashley says Rocksie has learned to be a good horsewoman. She’s patient, soft with her hands, and able to listen. The patience was learned; at first she was not patient. “There were nights she got mad at her horse so I made her walk him on foot,” Ashley said. “Getting mad at your horse isn’t the solution.” She’s also very dedicated. She rides nearly every day with no prodding from her mother.

This was the first year that Rocksie competed in Indian rodeos, and she competed in two regions: the King Mountain region and the Western States region. Going into King Mountain’s final rodeo, she sat in sixth place, but finished the rodeo at the top of the leaderboard, qualifying for the INFR, which was held in Las Vegas November 7-11.

She’s excited to be competing at the semi-finals for the American Rodeo in Arlington, Texas. She’ll be one of about 150 barrel racers in Ft. Worth for the semi-finals Feb. 20-24. About ten barrel racers from the semi-finals, plus the top ten WPRA barrel racers from the 2017 rodeo season qualify to compete at the American on Feb. 25.

Rocksie has big plans for the money she hopes to win at the American. She’d like to buy “a thousand ponies,” and if there’s any money left over, buy a truck and trailer for the family. When she grows up, she’d like to continue her barrel racing, and working with horses.

Her little sisters are her biggest fans. On long trips, they love to watch videos of Rocksie run barrels. The little girls ride, but are a bit shy and not ready to compete in front of crowds. “They sure look up to her,” Ashley said.

The drive from Wilbur, Wash., to Fort Worth is about four days, and Ashley is trying to figure out a way to get horses to Texas so the family can fly there. She doesn’t want Rocksie, a fourth grade student at Wilbur Public School, to miss too much school.

The semi-finals for the American will be held February 18-24. Tie-down roping is Feb. 18 and 21; barrel racing is Feb. 20; bull riding is Feb. 21. The first performance of the semi-finals is Feb. 22; the second is Feb. 23, and the semi-finals shoot-out is Feb. 24.

The top ten, after the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo, in the events of bareback riding, saddle bronc riding, tie-down roping, team roping, steer wrestling, and barrel racing, plus the top ten from the PBR World Finals, are invited to the American on Feb. 25; the remaining spots are filled with those who have won the semi-finals shoot-out on Feb. 24. 

One million dollars is up for grabs amongst the qualifiers. Cowboys and cowgirls who are invited to the event (i.e., were in the top ten in the PRCA (for the barrel racers, the WPRA, and for the bull riders, the PBR standings for 2017) are not eligible for the million dollars. The million is won by the qualifiers, and if more than one qualifier wins an event, it is split between those who win it.

Tickets for RFD-TV’s The American are on sale and can be purchased online at