TWIN FALLS • Some students might opt to spend their spring breaks on sunny beach vacations or kicking back at home.
These students prefer spending theirs on horseback, rope in hand, learning from one of the best around.
For the past eight years, Lari Dee Guy has traveled to the College of Southern Idaho to teach a four-day roping school for local rodeo students. Guy sat on her horse Tuesday afternoon as she watched her students chase down and rope calves.
Her goals, she said, are to teach students horsemanship and how to stay mentally focused. These two elements go hand-in-hand with roping.
And students have come from all across the Magic Valley and out-of-state to attend her school. Just like basketball players attend camps to improve dribbling and shooting skills, this school helps ropers with accuracy and consistency.
On Tuesday, 20 students attended the class that started Monday. A couple of them had traveled as far away as Minnesota and Wyoming.
Another 15 were signed up to participate in Wednesday and Thursday’s sessions, including several from the first two days. All the participants are either junior high, high school or college rodeo competitors.
“She’s a proven rodeo athlete,” said Keaton Newman, 21, a CSI rodeo team member.
Originally from Harriman, Utah, Newman competes in calf roping and team roping. This is the fourth time he’s enrolled in Guy’s school.
Newman said there was no where else he wanted to be for spring break, besides inside the CSI Expo Center.
“She’s such a great horseman,” he said. “I love being around people like that.”
Guy’s list of titles is long.
She has won 11-consecutive American Junior Rodeo Association world roping titles beginning at age 9. She attended Vernon Junior College where she won a National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association National Championship, and then moved on to Texas Tech University where she won a second NIRA National Championship. She was the 2013 Women’s Professional Rodeo Association World Champion Header and the 2014 WPRA All-Around World Champion.
“I love the people up this way,” Guy said, as she watched and instructed students. “The kids, they really understand and their work ethic is good.”
From March to November, Guy travels throughout the U.S. and overseas hosting roping schools. Her next stop will be in Caldwell, and in September she plans to travel to Norway.
“Western riding is becoming more popular in Europe,” said Steve Birnie, CSI rodeo coach.
Several of Birnie’s rodeo team members signed up for the school. He said Guy is one of the few instructors who travel. Most of the times students are the ones who have to travel to attend these types of schools.
“She’s awesome and a good teacher most of all,” Birnie said. “She can break it down and explain it in terms they can understand. There’s other people we could bring in, but she’s so good.”
Jay Faulkner watched his daughter Gracie Faulkner, 13, as she charged from the box on the back of her horse. A box in a timed event is the area horse and rider back into before they make a roping or steer wrestling run.
Gracie circled the rope above her head a couple of times before letting it go. Gracie missed her mark — the calf running in front of her — but would get words of advice from Guy later.
“She’s good,” Jay said. “But she’s got a ways to go, and that’s why we are at this school.”
Father and daughter traveled from Gooding. Gracie has been competing in rodeo events since she was 7. She attended the school last year and competes in breakaway calf roping, team roping and barrel racing.
“She’s very well known,” Jay said of Guy. “She’s a winner and can make winners. She’s the lady we want to see.”
The love of horses and rodeos is what drove Sydney Porter, 19, to Twin Falls. Here she gladly traded balmy weather and sandy beaches for the sagebrush covered hills of the Magic Valley.
Originally from Hawaii, she is a member of the CSI rodeo team. She’s enrolled in Guy’s roping school twice before and said the opportunities like this are nonexistent in her home state.
“I looked for a school with a good rodeo program,” Porter said. “I was offered a (CSI) scholarship and I couldn’t refuse.”
She competes in barrel racing, breakaway, team roping and goat tying.
“I’m always trying to improve,” she said. “I learn something new every time.”
On this go-around, Porter has learned roping is more than just controlling the rope in your hand. It’s also about working as one with the horse.
Porter said Guy told her to not stiffen up when she’s waiting in the box.
“Horses feel everything we do and squeezing can affect the whole process,” she said. “Subtle movements are better.”