Name: Betsy West
Hometown: Athena and Butte Valley, Nevada
Currently living in: Athena
High school: Weston-McEwen High School, graduated in 2014
High school sports and activities: Varsity volleyball, Walla Walla Sweets club volleyball, varsity track & field, basketball, FFA, high school rodeo
College: College of Idaho, majoring in health sciences, minors in Spanish, human services and sociology.
Current occupation and goals: Former Oregon Department of Forestry wildland firefighter. I am applying to nursing school this fall. I hope to work on the Justin Boots Sports Medicine Team or as a relief nurse in developing countries.
Past Round-Up or Happy Canyon volunteer involvement: I have been volunteering for the past six years, including as a pennant bearer, helping in the souvenir booth and I was a fill-in flag bearer for Grand Entry practice. I also got to help with the grooming and tacking up the horses before events when my sister was a princess in 2014.
Other rodeo or county fair involvement: I attended junior rodeos and play days every summer until I started high school. I participated in the Umatilla County Fair showing pigs and sheep.
Community or volunteer experiences: I am a dedicated blood donor for the College of Idaho Red Cross and a committed plasma donor. My freshman year, I spent spring break with my school’s campus ministries in Tijuana, Mexico. We spent time at two orphanages and a women’s home, and built, repaired and helped with projects. Spring Break 2016, I took a Wilderness First Responder Class. I was trained to be a medical leader in the wilderness, which includes rescue, preparedness and disaster relief for backcountry situations.
Parents: My father is Clay West, originally from Heppner, currently living in Athena. My mother is Mary West, from Pendleton, living outside Athena.
Family involvement in Round-Up or Happy Canyon: My mother was a member of the 1989 Round-Up court and has been a volunteer since then. My father was a Round-Up competitor and has volunteered for 30 years with stock and parades. My sister was a flag bearer for four years and a princess in 2014. My great-grandmother, Ruth Porter Piquet, was a princess twice in the 1930s. My great-grandfather, Jack French, was a judge of the Northwest Bucking contest in the early days. My grandmother, Penny French, has been a volunteer for Happy Canyon and Round-Up for more than 30 years. My great-uncle, Morris Temple, was the founder of the Main Street Cowboys. My aunt, Anne Livingston, has been a volunteer for Happy Canyon for about 30 years and her children, my cousins, Julia, Justine and Jarred Livingston, have been Happy Canyon volunteers for several years. I have many other extended family members who have been court members, directors and volunteers through the years.
Favorite rodeo (other than Round-Up): Silver State Stampede in Elko, Nevada. This was the main rodeo in the area when I lived in Nevada. It is fun because it has the PRCA events but also incorporates into it ranch hand events.
Favorite Round-Up tradition: When they sing the national anthem. It’s such a patriotic feeling. Starting with the boom of the cannon, the jets, and then everyone getting quiet, you can clearly feel a buzz in the air. It’s a feeling of national pride and anticipation.
History with horses: I grew up on a cattle and sheep ranch. I started riding on the front of my parents’ saddles before I could walk. My first horse was a Shetland pony that I would trot around the barrels in local junior rodeos. My main horse would be my best friend for the last eight years, Rancher 383. I like to call him Feathers. He has carried me through many Round-Up parades, junior and high school rodeos and is a great ranch horse. He recently lost the sight in his left eye and I’m thankful I’ve been able to use him this summer. My other main horse is Big Baby Bay, a very showy bay gelding. My sister used him on the court in 2014. My other horse is Monte; he is a gentle giant with a kind eye. All three horses were bred and raised on our family ranch.
Why did you want to be on the court: From the first stories I heard about my mother’s reign as princess, the hope of also getting to be a princess has been in my blood. I watched all the courts growing up. I saw them as true cowgirls! They were classy, kind, smart, they had pride in their community, and represented our one-of-a-kind heritage. This opportunity represents who I am and who I want to be: a horseman, a student, kind, proud of my community and a role model for other little girls!
Best part of the court experience: It is amazing getting to dedicate my summer to rodeo and the Western lifestyle. I’m looking forward to all the run-ins. I feel the most confident on my horse, and love the feeling of trust you have with your horse and that excitement and freedom you get when you’re going fast.
Favorite memory of Round-Up: I remember being about 4 or 5, our seats were by where the queen starts her run-in. I looked down and the queen was smiling and waving at me! I felt so special. My grandpa said, “The queen waved at you, that is an omen that you will be on the court someday too.” As a little girl who looked up to the court and wanted to be a princess so much already, that was a very meaningful moment.