Zuniga, the 20-year-old daughter of proud parents Danny and Sita who's a junior computer information systems major at Tarleton State University in Stephenville, Texas, was impressed that Doud was able to grab all four steers by two feet. "Tracie did great," she said. "I want to rope with her from now on."
The 2009 Wildfire Ladies Open added a whole new meaning to the term "drama queens." The girls put on a show, and the spectators loved it. Colorado heeler Jimmi Jo Montera, who looks a whole lot more like a runway model than a ranchy roper, made up three of the top six high teams. Zuniga and Doud were the high team, but Montera came back second with Jody Kirchenschlager, fifth with Taya Ellerman and sixth with Jamie Mader. Montera hammered the high-team steers for both Ellerman and Mader, and moved up to second and third in the average with them. She missed one for Kirchenschlager or she'd have won three of the top-four holes. Whoever said "girls can't heel" wasn't at this year's Wildfire roping.
Another interesting fun fact to point out at this year's Ladies Open was the numbers on the top few finishers. While Zuniga and Doud are a combined No. 8 team (both are No. 4 ropers), most of the other top teams, including Ellerman and Montera (a 12 team) and Mader and Montera (an 11 team) were much higher numbered.
It was Zuniga's fourth trip to the Wildfire Open to the World Weekend, at which she's made a couple of short rounds previously but never before scored like this. "This is the best all-girl roping in the world," she said. "It pays like no other roping." Zuniga rode her sorrel head horse Moses. She's ridden him since she was 16, and he's "just so smooth that we click."
Doud climbed aboard Martin Lucero's old faithful gray horse Blue, who's taken many an all-girl roper on the victory lap. Doud lives a couple miles down the road from Lucero, and they practice together quite a bit. Doud hadn't actually heeled at a jackpot in a couple of years. "I had a baby, and I headed," she said. "I called Martin five days ago and asked if I could ride Blue, and luckily he said yes. Before I quit heeling, I had an old mare I retired. Her name was China. Blue feels exactly like her, so it was really easy to ride him."
The Douds moved to Texas a couple years ago from Gillette, Wyo., where they produced ropings. They got tired of "feeding cows in the snow banks every winter." She's an equine massage therapist. It was her first time in the Wildfire Ladies Open lineup, but certainly won't be her last. "I planned on entering it last year, but was too pregnant," she laughed. "I won't miss it again."
Zuniga dubbed their Wildfire win, "My biggest win yet-by far. We appreciate everything they do and how much effort they put into the ladies roping here every year. The key at this roping is trying to be smooth and consistent. I just try to focus on not breaking out, roping my steers and giving my partners a good handle. This is great. I'm really excited."
Doud's previous career highlight was winning the all-girl roping at Dennis Tryan's first-ever Wrangler Team Roping Championships in Billings with Kayleen Brock in 2006, where she won her first saddle. "This roping is extraordinary and fun," Doud said. "From the moment I got here, I've had a blast. Girl ropings are fun, because everybody roots everybody on. It's just a great atmosphere."