Cowgirl’s 10th Australian title seals her place in Hall of Fame
LOCKINGTON cowgirl Cherie O’Donoghue has some more silverware to add to her saddle after being crowned the Australian breaking roping champion.
At the Australian Professional Rodeo Association (APRA) national finals in Queensland, O’Donoghue won her 10th Australian title and secured her place in the APRA Hall of Fame for the most national titles overall.
O’Donoghue said her love of horses and action events was instilled in her by her father, Des, a Kamarooka farmer and horse breeder with ‘a big mob of horses’.
She grew up surrounded by horses and remembers spending most weekends being hauled to agricultural shows and gymkhanas where the speed events were always the highlight for her.
“I just loved going fast on a horse,” she said. “I was never one for the dressage ring — the action events were always my thing.”
At age five she competed in her first rodeo at Calivil, Victoria, in the junior barrel race.
But she didn’t take up the sport of rodeo competitively until the age of 21 when she began travelling and competing regularly in three events: the barrel race, breakaway roping and team roping.
O’Donoghue has now won six allround cowgirl champion titles and four breakaway roping titles and said she was humbled and proud of her achievements.
“To be in the company of the Hall of Fame champions of the sport is just such an honour,” she said.
“It’s taken a lot of effort and commitment to get to this point and there are days where you would rather be anywhere else in the world than the heat and the dust of the practice pen, but it makes it worth it when it pays off.
“I’ve had some horses which were natural athletes and others which took a bit of time to reach their full potential but it’s all part of the journey, and I’m always really grateful for a win.”
The national finals — and rodeo in general — are a family affair for O’Donoghue.
Her partner, Lee Kimber, qualified for the this year’s APRA national finals in the steer wrestling, rope and tie and team roping events and was runner-up for the steer wrestling title.
O’Donoghue’s son, Beau, 8, is just starting his rodeo career in the junior barrel race and her two sisters and two nieces also compete regularly on the rodeo circuit.
“It’s nice to have that support network there at the rodeos you go to, particularly when you are travelling across the country to get to events,” she said.
I was never one for the dressage ring — the action events were always my thing.’
— Cherie O’Donoghue
Cherie O’Donoghue is an Australian Professional Rodeo Association Hall of Fame inductee after winning her 10th Australian title.