Josie Fladager, daughter of Travis and Dawn Fladager of Anson, Texas, is one talented 16-year-old who will be setting the cloverleaf pattern each night of the rodeo as the Sponsor of the 88th Texas Cowboy Reunion. She comes from a long line of horsemen and women, including her great-grandpa, Austin, who worked on the XIT Ranch in the Texas Panhandle and did a little bit of everything. Josie’s father, born and raised in Montana, grew up in rodeo as well and started riding saddle broncs at the age of 13. Her mother worked for the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association in the entry office and has ridden horses most of her life. Josie’s grandmother, Peggy Bleiker of Hawley, Texas, has run barrels for 62 years and will be competing this year at the 2018 TCR in the Pioneer Barrels.
Josie and her Granny (Peggy) switch out riding horses at the different competitions they travel to together. They alternate between two horses: Special Emily and Shaman Jet Smoke. Josie plans on riding Shaman Jet Smoke, a 9-year-old quarter horse, while her Granny will be riding 19-year-old Special Emily. Josie has Ima Joe Bug, a 17-year-old quarter horse, as her backup horse, if needed.
While the duties of the Sponsor have changed over the years, the requirement to know how to run the barrel pattern is still the same, and something Josie has been doing since she was just three years old. She was born in Colorado Springs, Colorado. At the age of two, her family moved to New Mexico and then moved to Texas when she was four, one year after she started competing. Riding horses has always been a big part of her life; the family photo album has several pictures of her as a baby riding with her mom.
Other duties as Sponsor will include serving breakfast during the slack barrel race, welcoming all of the barrel racers to the TCR and riding in the Grand Parade on July 4th. As Sponsor, Josie cannot compete this year.
Josie was awarded her first buckle at the age of three at the Western Heritage Stick Horse Rodeo. Her first saddle was won in 2009 at the West Texas Barrel Racers Association (WTBRA), in the Eight and Under category. At her first year participating in the American Junior Rodeo Association (AJRA), she won the Average at the Finals. Over the years, Josie has won enough tack to have at least two complete sets.
“It’s hard to pick just one favorite memory, because there are so many great ones. My favorite at Stamford was when I ran Friday night last year. It was probably the most fun I’ve had!” said Josie.
When reflecting on that memory of the 2017 TCR, Josie said, “It was really the first time I got to run in a rodeo outside of a junior or high school rodeo. One thing that made it so cool was the storm that was coming in and I’ll never forget the way the lightening seemed to dance in the clouds and race across the sky. There was a special energy in the air and my horse could definitely feel it. Our first barrel is our trouble barrel and that night we turned it the best we ever had. It was really a special night and one I won’t soon forget.”
Josie will be a junior at Anson High School and is part of many organizations including: AJRA, Junior Director; WTBRA; THSRA Region II; FFA, District Secretary; FCS, Vice President; NHS; PALS; Student Council, Secretary; Athletics, Regional Pole Vault; Band; and Spanish Club.
“I have been coming to the rodeo for many years, and competed for the first time last year, but I didn’t think being Sponsor would ever be something I would get to do. I am so excited!” said Josie.
Her plans after high school are to attended Texas A&M or Texas Tech University, to become a veterinarian.
Josie would like to wish her only sibling, Wyatt, a very Happy Birthday on July 4th, as he will be turning 15 this year.