Fourteen-year-old cowgirl sweeps barrel racing record
By Starrla Cray
Fourteen-year-old Joessa Giesen of rural Cologne isn’t afraid to stir up a little dust.
Joessa is a horse-loving cowgirl with a record-setting time in the barrel race arena at the State Jr. High Rodeo Finals in St. Peter this year.
“I really like competing and going fast,” she said.
Her achievement in St. Peter qualified her for a second trip, to a competition in Gallup, NM earlier this summer.
At the end of July, Joessa also competed in the Little Britches National Finals in Pueblo, CO.
She placed second in the short-go, second in the average, and also placed fourth in the world. She received a buckle for each of these achievements.
“Almost every weekend, we go somewhere,” Joessa said. Most competitions are during the spring and fall, but there are some throughout the entire year.
“In the winter, we use indoor arenas,” she said.
So far this year, she’s taken home many awards, including buckles, bronc halters, spur straps, stirrups, and cash prizes.
“She has been really successful,” her mother, Lisa, said. “She’s really committed herself to it.”
Neither Lisa nor Joessa’s father, Mark, are competitive riders, but Joessa’s 17-year-old brother, Kyle, enjoys team roping.
“My dad got them into it,” Lisa explained.
Lisa’s father, Ray Flygare, is a horse enthusiast who competes in senior rodeos.
Lisa remembers the early days of Ray teaching Joessa how to ride, starting when she was about 2 years old.
Ray was always right by Joessa, to make sure she was safe.
However, one day, when she was about 4 years old, Joessa started riding without Ray’s lead. He was busy doing something else, and Joessa came up to the house and asked her grandmother, “Did you see me riding all by myself?”
Ever since she was very young, it was hard to keep Joessa off a horse. She got a mellow pony when she was 8 years old, and eventually became a skilled rider.
“She wanted to be the barrel racer,” Lisa said. So, Joessa started competing at 4-H and the Carver County Fair.
“It pretty much took off from there,” Lisa said.
Joessa competes on two quarter horses. Her black barrel horse’s registered name is “Don’t Even Think About it” (aka “Heart”), and her grey pole and goat-tying horse is named “King Texas Star” (aka “Flicka”).
“I ride them pretty much every day,” she said. “I love horses, and it’s just fun.”
Joessa’s first riding lessons were by Susie Bjorklund at Freedomfarm in Waverly.
Now, she trains with Jane Melby, a two-time world champion rider. It’s a three-hour drive, but it’s worth it for Joessa, who would like to follow in Jane’s footsteps someday.
Despite her success, Joessa said she still gets nervous for her races. Some races go better than others, but she doesn’t let that deter her.
“I just keep going on to the next one,” she said.
Lisa said she and Mark have really enjoyed going to Joessa’s competitions.
“We didn’t realize we would get so interested in it ourselves,” Lisa said. “We love it. We’ve met so many nice people.”
This fall, Joessa will be a ninth grade student at Central High School in Norwood-Young America. Her plans after high school include a career working with animals, preferably horses.