Rodeo: Creekbaum ready to go after pro career |

Rodeo: Creekbaum ready to go after pro career

Darrell Moody
Carmen Creekbaum turns her horse around a barrel as she competes in barrel racing at the Reno Rodeo on Friday, June 19, 2009 in Reno, Nev.
Kevin Clifford | Kevin Clifford Photography

RENO – Carmen Creekbaum grew up in Fallon loving to ride horses with an eye toward a professional career.

Creekbaum, who spent 10 years participating in non-sanctioned events, got her permit and has been rodeoing the last two years. She earned the required $1,000 in 2008 to get her WPRA card this year.

“I kind of always wanted to do it,” Creekbaum said. “I’m kind of competitive. I’m always competing at something.”

Thanks to a ligament injury in February to Miss Martha, a horse she purchased from fellow barrel racer and good friend Lita Scott, her professional career is off to a slower-than-anticipated start.

Creekbaum, who competed in high school rodeo at Fallon and made the national goat-tying finals in the early 1990s, clocked a 19.67 in her first-ever Reno Rodeo run Friday morning aboard Streak, a horse she borrowed from a close friend. Creekbaum said she decided at the last minute to compete this week. Her second performance is scheduled for Tuesday night.

Creekbaum said Scott, who is from Washoe Valley, has had a big influence on her rodeo career.

“I’ve always gotten a lot of help and inspiration from Lita,” Creekbaum said. “She is one of the most positive people I know. She has been to nationals and really knows the game. She’s a very good jockey as well.”

Creekbaum and Scott have known each other for several years. Both have daughters about the same age, giving them another common ground.

When Creekbaum decided she wanted to be in a competitive environment, it only seemed natural that she talk to Scott about it and seek her advice purchasing a horse.

“I’m pretty laid back when it comes to selling horses,” Scott said. “I had two horses, so I had one to sell. I know she looked around for quite a while. Carmen got a great horse. Carmen is a great jockey. She has the ability to make it.”

Scott said the two have talked about doing some traveling together next season.

“That’s what we’re hoping,” said the 34-year-old Creekbaum, who wants to compete on a serious basis as soon as Miss Martha is ready to go. “That’s the plan.”

That plan hinges on the health of their horses. Both ladies are using back-up horses at this competition.

Creekbaum said that she expects Miss Martha to be ready either by late August or sometime in September. Miss Martha is currently rehabbing in Texas.

“The rehab is usually about four months,” Creekbaum said. “We’re not in any hurry. I’m trying to give her extra time to make sure she heals well.”

With Miss Martha sidelined from competition, Creekbaum has recently got involved in cutting, and will perform in the cutting competition next Friday and Saturday here in Reno.

Cutting was developed on ranches, and it’s separating a cow from the rest of the herd. Cutters are judged by their horse’s ability to keep in step with the cow and not letting the animal get around them and re-join the herd. The point range goes from 60 to 80.

“It looked like it might be a fun thing to do until my horse got healthy and a good thing to learn,” Creekbaum said.

• Creekbaum wasn’t the only local rider in the field. She was joined by veterans Susie Luschar of Dayton and Scott of Washoe Valley.

Scott, who was timed in 18.11 on a back-up horse, has been a regular at the Reno Rodeo, while Luschar’s visits to the event have been less frequent.

Luschar, aboard her 8-year-old stallion Sun Doc Leo, was timed in 23.35 after knocking over one of the barrels in her first round, which all but knocked her out of an opportunity to reach the finals.

Unlike Creekbaum, who grew up around animals, Luschar grew up in the Incline area and didn’t start riding regularly until she was 16.

“I just wanted to start riding,” Luschar said. “When I turned 18 I bought my first horse and got really addicted.”

Luschar said she stays in the sport for her love of horses and the competition.

“They (the horses) are your best friends, like puppy dogs,” Luschar said, giving her horse a long rub.

Luschar was the 2003-04 NSPRA all-around world champion. She participates in team roping and breakaway roping, two events not offered at the Reno Rodeo.

“I don’t have a favorite,” she said. “I like them all equal. I like it all.”