Trick Riding is Much More Than Just Tricks

Good morning!

I’m so excited to be here for my second official post. In case you didn’t know it, I’m a talker, and I love talking about writing. And, yes, anything western and cowboys 🙂

I’m sure everyone reading this post has heard the old saying: write what you know. That’s one of the reasons I love western romances. I’ve spent most of my life embracing the country and western lifestyle. And even though I mostly write contemporaries, that doesn’t mean I get out of having to research something new with every book.

I particularly like giving my heroines horse-related occupations or hobbies that are little out of the norm. In one book, my gal crafts and sells jewelry for horses (yes, it’s a thing). In my book coming out in November, the gal’s a competitive endurance rider. In yet another book, she rescues wild mustangs. I even had a heroine who ran a wildlife sanctuary.

In my most recent release, my heroine is a trick rider. And while I’ve seen trick riders perform at rodeos and horse events, I actually knew nothing about it when I started the book. I guessed that trick riders have years of training and often a gymnastic or dancing background, and I was right. But I learned a whole lot more.

Trick riding originated in the Caucasus and Central Asia cultures and was adopted by the Russian Cossacks who used it during battles. Eventually, Russian Cossacks who immigrated to America brought their trick riding skills with them and started performing as a way to earn money. Sometime around the 1940s, trick riding evolved into a rodeo event, though eventually it became strictly a specialty act for entertainment..

Not only is the rider talented, skilled, and athletic, the horse is, too, as well as needing to have a calm and reliable disposition. The two must form a true partnership in order to be successful and trust each other completely. If not, they’re both at risk of injury. As you can imagine, countless hours of training and practice are required in order to reach a professional performance level, and that training and practice never stops.

Here are just a few pictures of some common tricks. I don’t know about you, but I’m holding my breath watching them.

The hippodrome

Layout fender













One leg stand

Death drag

If you have a hankering to learn more, check out this YouTube video of sister trick riders. And if you’re anything like me, you’ll be amazed at what these gals (and their horses) can do!

Warmest wishes,

Cathy McDavid

P.S. – You can purchase my trick riding heroine story, HOW TO MARRY A COWBOY, here


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Cathy McDavid has been penning Westerns for Harlequin since 2005. With over 50 titles in print and 1.5 million-plus books sold, Cathy is also a member of the prestigious Romance Writers of America’s Honor Roll. This “almost” Arizona native and mother of grown twins is married to her own real-life sweetheart. After leaving the corporate world seven years ago, she now spends her days penning stories about good looking cowboys riding the range, busting broncs, and sweeping gals off their feet — oops, no. Make that winning the hearts of feisty, independent women who give the cowboys a run for their money. It a tough job, but she’s willing to make the sacrifice.

38 thoughts on “Trick Riding is Much More Than Just Tricks”

  1. What a great blog. I’ve seen many truck riders growing up at rodeos. They have to be very limber, strong, and fearless. They truly give the audience a great show.
    Congrats on your book.

  2. Good morning! Thanks for dropping by! I love to watch trick riding & will check out the link. I wish all rodeos had them!! I can’t even imagine where they drum up the courage to do some of the tricks they do. Fun blog. Congratulations on your new book.

  3. Trick riding is shown while watching the Heartland series filmed in Canada! the horses themselves are pretty amazing!!

  4. I was in awe of it when I saw the tv version of a young girl learning trick riding on Heartland. What a journey they must go through to become a trick rider.

    • Well, now I really need to watch the show. I did watch two movies about trick riding as part of my research. Many of the riders do start young. Just like dancing or gymnastics.

  5. I think trick ridding would be very hard and the person doing that would have to have a lot of trust in their horse. I think it looks very cool but it something that I would never do.

  6. Wow! The trick riders have to work really hard with their horses to build that trust! Practice many hours a day, too, I would think. Definitely not something I would want to try!

  7. I love that you give your heroines such unique western occupations, Cathy! So fun! I actually took a horse vaulting class as a part of 4H way back when I was a teen in the 80’s. I could mount the practice barrel with no problem, but mounting the moving horse was much harder. I never quite mastered that. The most death defying trick I ever did was kneeling on the horse’s back and lifting one leg behind me. We had a double grip harness to hold onto and the sweet horse we rode was smooth, steady, and slow, just the way I like them. 🙂

    • Karen, that’s a cool experience. I’m glad you mentioned the double grip harness. One thing I didn’t mention here was the unique custom saddle these trick riders use.

  8. Cathy, this is so interesting. I’m a huge fan of Heartland for a lot of reasons, but I really love how the character Georgie loves to trick ride and often competes. She’s a great character with so much heart. In fact all of the characters are so lovable. I love that you give your female leads some horse related occupation. There must be tons I know nothing about. In fact, Amy on Heartland is an expert in helping horses recover from trauma and I just love that. Welcome again. I hope you’re settling in well.

  9. The photos are gorgeous, Cathy! Whoever took them were right in that arena with the trick riders! I’m loving HOW TO MARRY A COWBOY – I can totally understand Kenna’s dilemma about her mother. 🙂

  10. Cathy, Thank you so much for this is awesome post! I enjoyed the photos. Trick riders are phenomenal!

  11. Thank you so much for sharing. I admire the ladies that can do those tricks. I know it is not something I would be able to do any of those things.

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