Today we’d like to introduce you to Camarie Widmer.
Alright, so thank you so much for sharing your story and insight with our readers. To kick things off, can you tell us a bit about how you got started?
My first rodeo was when I was five days old. Both of my parents have been involved in rodeo since well before I was born. My mom barrel raced professionally and worked for the World’s Toughest Rodeo company and my dad picked up and team roped. As a young girl, I rode some, but never got really interested until the summer going into my freshman year of high school. I’m not sure what caused it, but the switch flipped and I was hooked. I told my dad I wanted to high school rodeo and he was supportive, but made it perfectly clear that if they were going to haul me to all the high school rodeos. I was going to be more than just a barrel racer. So my first year I entered the barrel racing, and picked up pole bending and goat tying. The following year, I picked up team roping and breakaway roping.
I gained enough skills to make it to the National High School Finals Rodeo in the goat tying two years in a row, finishing 5th in the nation both years. That helped me gain a rodeo scholarship at Southeastern Oklahoma State University in Durant, OK where I earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Communications.
After college, I had planned to stay in the southern part of the country, but my mom got wrapped up in a horse accident which brought me back home. My parents had started a family rodeo series I started helping with and I picked up doing lessons and clinics for the youth in the area. I was also training horses for a living at the time, which was something I NEVER thought I’d be doing, but I fell in love with all of it.
A lot of kids who came through the barn were riding ponies. During lessons and clinics, I started to find myself helpless as a clinician and coach for those kids. None of the ponies had gear that fit right, so I couldn’t blame them for being frustrated and not cooperating, which led to the kids being frustrated. So, after doing a fair amount of research and realizing the limited availability of quality pony tack, I started the Performance Pony Company (PPC).
The PPC led me down an exciting new path. Within two years, I was getting to travel the country to set up at tradeshows, including a booth in Las Vegas during the National Finals Rodeo. Here, I got to interact with industry leaders in all aspects. After my second year there and lots of conversations, I started to realize we were lacking focus on the youth. There were competitive opportunities growing everywhere, but we were missing the boat on preparing them outside of the arena mentally, physically and emotionally. We were throwing them to the wolves with little to no support. Not only that, but unlike any other sport, the parents are the head coach for everything regardless of their experience level.
The other thing I noticed is that aside from the kids in the southern states where the population is saturated with rodeos, it can be hard to find help and support nearby. Most people have to travel a decent amount for help and events.
So, I started RodeoKids.com to be a resource and a community for youth and families in the western industry to learn, ask questions and provide opportunities. Our goal is to empower youth to be the best versions of themselves both inside and outside of the arena. Similar to FFA, but for the western industry. Today, RodeoKids offers a weekly RodeoKids Podcast episode, monthly zooms, an ambassador team, videos of kids helping kids, blogs, challenges for the kids to complete, clinics, camps, coaching calls, college rodeo recruiting assistance and information for people who are just getting started.
We are still growing and working to become more and more inclusive of all youth interested in the industry. On July 1, we opening RodeoKids up to a membership format that anyone under the age of 21 can participate in. Parents can still ask questions and utilize resources on the website.
Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way. Looking back would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
There’s no such thing as a smooth road! God never told us it would be easy. There’s always fear, doubt and worry that creep in. Neither the Performance Pony Company or RodeoKids.com make sense to most people, but it’s what God wanted me to do, so I followed his lead.
Much of what I’ve done takes just stupid courage and faith. When it doesn’t make sense, you just cry it out when it gets tough, pray about it and if he says keep going, I just keep going, trusting that he will provide everything I need to make whatever he has planned for me happen.
Alright, so let’s switch gears a bit and talk business. What should we know about your work?
I am most proud of watching youth step out of their comfort zones, take risks, explore their potential and step into who they really want to be. Watching them change their perspectives from woe is me to “win or learn, I never lose.”
Are there any apps, books, podcasts, blogs or other resources you think our readers should check out?
I love books. I don’t read them as often as I’d like. The most important book that has changed my life is the Bible. It’s a blueprint to everything if you let it be.
The book “7 Days at the Links of Utopia” was a game-changer in high school that allowed me to focus on what’s in my control and eliminate the unnecessary chatter that’s outside of my control.
Hosting the RodeoKids Podcast has been an amazing experience that forces me out of my comfort zone and has opened up so many inspiring, insightful, and educational podcasts with people throughout the western industry. I also listen to quite a few other podcasts: Elevation with Steven Furtick, Ed MyLett, Tony Robbins, Joel Osteen, 12 Gauge Ranch, to name a few.
My social media has some great things on it too, Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok. We get to train the algorithms to work for or against us. Mine are trained to have positive, inspirational, business, self-help, and faith-based messages.
- RodeoKids Basic Membership – Free
- RodeoKids Next Level Member – $199.99/year or $19.99/month
- RodeoKids Ambassador Member – $299.99/year or $29.99/month
- Coaching calls – $29.99/30 Minutes
- Clinics – call for pricing
- Website: www.rodeokids.com / www.performancepony.com
- Instagram: @_rodeokids.com_ / @performanceponyco
- Facebook: @Rodeokidsdotcom / @performanceponycompany
- Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCKmJqTaEa4lmC1AeOgcSh-w
Click Thompson Photography
Jamie Myers Photography