Tressa Merrill – 2021 Interstate Queen Winner

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What is your name and age? Tressa Merrill; 19 years old.


How long have you been involved with horses?

I’ve been riding my whole life and got my first pony on my second birthday.


Do you have an instructor or trainer? No


What’s the hardest part about owning or caring for horses?

For me, the most challenging part of owning horses is time management. Because I ride multiple horses, setting aside time to meet the needs of each one is very important. Maintaining their physical condition while keeping up their maintenance and happiness can make a huge difference in your performance.


What kind of riding do you do?

I’ve done Western gaming my whole life and love the versatility that it gives your horse. I compete in 7 individual events and multiple two-and four-person team events with my family. I also run at local barrel races when I’m not gaming, or you can find me out on the trails. My family loves to trail ride, and I think it’s a great “brain break” for my horses and me after a week of arena work.


Tell us about your horses: Breed? Age? How long have you owned them?

Ruby Sue is a 15-year-old APHA mare; she’s family-raised and been my main mount for 5 years. Cosmo is a 15-year-old AQHA mare my mom has owned for 3 years; Paintstik is a 2-year-old APHA, owned 1 year. Tru is a retired 27-year-old AQHA mare I’ve owned since I was 9. And Missy is a retired 27-year-old AQHA mare we’ve owned since I was 13.


What are your riding and training goals?

My goals include getting a good start on the two-year olds—my own gelding and my mom’s filly. They are both cow-bred and very athletic, so they will be a lot of fun and a good challenge. I also hope to work on more fundamentals and take some lessons this winter to expand my knowledge and work my horses to the best of my abilities. My dad has a 5-year-old gelding I’ve been riding who is coming along nicely. This winter, I hope to get him ready to start patterning.


Any accomplishments you’re especially proud of?

This past year I ran for the title of Interstate Queen—the rodeo queen of gaming in WA and OR. The contest is rigorous and includes a horsemanship category judged by highly respected judges. I was able to win the horsemanship category this year and ultimately the crown. Contestants are questioned and judged on their knowledge of horse health and equipment, then judged during their warm-up and a barrel run, pole run, and rodeo run.


What are some challenges you’ve had to overcome with your horse training or riding? Like many riders, I’ve faced a lot of challenges in my years of riding. I recently had a colt throw a tantrum, buck me off onto my back, then land on top of me with both hind feet. Another challenge is the difficulty of getting to know a new horse. Since I was 10, I’ve been catch riding horses and have learned that being an adaptable rider is critical. You can’t change a horse on the fly; you have to learn to ride in the style that horse needs. I’ve become a much better rider with this knowledge.


Name one or two of your heroes in the horse world – people you admire and respect. Why did you choose this person?

One hero of mine is Amberleigh Moore. I’ve had the opportunity to travel with her over the years to many outstanding rodeos; the NFR, The American, and Rodeo Houston were a few of my favorites. What I love about Amber is that she always puts her horses first. She changed my perspective on how to care for a competing horse. They are athletes and need to be treated as such. She has been such a generous teacher, and I’m so grateful for her!


What is your dream career? Do you see horses in your adult life?

My dream career is to have a successful breeding and training operation. I love the process of putting a good foundation on a horse, and it’s a dream of mine to be able to raise my prospects. I am slowly working towards my goals, taking in one client horse at a time and working with young horses every opportunity I get. Even if I do not get my business going in the immediate future, I’m sure that horses will continue to be a part of my life until I do.

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