My name is Sarah and I’m the owner, seamstress and designer of Rodeo Karma. I’m an Army veteran, I served for 5 years as a paralegal before it was discovered I had developed Epilepsy from a traumatic brain injury I had suffered during those years. I was raised an Army brat and grew up all over the United States and Germany. Since being an Army brat meant we could not have our own horses I did just about everything else related to them. I had books, stuffed animals, pictures and figurines that took the place of an actual horse. My mom luckily saw to it that my sister and I could ride and be around them when she could. One of my favorite childhood memories is of the horse farm next to her family home in Michigan where we learned to ride on a Morgan mare. When we moved to Arizona, I was instantly drawn to western culture and the desert. I got into 4-H and Gymkhanas and by my Junior year I had caught the eye of a cutting horse trainer and would ride some of his horses to keep them legged up and he taught me how to break and start colts.
Fast forward the 5 years in the Army and my separation from the military. I was drawn back into the western horse world when I started my delayed entry into college. I decided to go to college for an equine science degree and it was at this time I got back into rodeo and competed briefly on my college rodeo team in goat tying, breakaway and barrels. I met and fell for a ranch cowboy and decided to help working on his family ranch. I helped with taking care of bottle calves, breaking colts, managing the remuda and helping during branding. Unfortunately, my relationship fell apart with him when I moved my degree to New Mexico State. Once there however, school and I did not seem to agree as I am more interested in the practical, usable portions of a degree (I was more interested in the hands-on training) and not so much the theoretical parts. So following a whim I packed up and headed to Nebraska.
Once in Nebraska I moved onto a ranch and worked starting and seasoning barrel colts for a trainer. In my down time I worked in a cattle sales barn sorting cattle in the back pens and working as a large animal vet tech doing everything from helping set broken bones, stitching torn tendons and performing C-sections on Black Angus heifers and cows. I got homesick for warm weather and family so I packed up and headed back home to Arizona. Yet again I tried my hand at college and was immersed in as many Equine Science and training courses as I could get into, without taking any of the fluff classes. Once I had taken all the courses that interested me I left and started a side business brokering horses and starting barrel horses to send on their way to do amazing things with new owners. During this time, I met a guy, fell in love, we got pregnant and I moved with him back to his home state of New York to start a life there.
Once I had my daughter I decided to go back to my crafty roots. I’ve always loved fashion and sewing, something my grandmother taught me. I really started enjoying making my daughter clothes to wear as well as shirts for myself to compete in; this led me to start making some for my friends and family. Once she grew older, I started to really get back into competing at rodeos and joined the Women’s Professional Rodeo Association as a barrel racer. Once I got back into the circuit I noticed that there was something I could do for my fellow rodeo competitors, make some income and at the same time set an example of what hard work and doing what you love can do for you. So, I started Rodeo Karma to do just that.
My epilepsy tends to get in my way as far as a traditional job goes, due to driving restrictions and the fact my seizures do not resemble a stereotypical seizure. Mine are petit mal seizures that resemble a stroke and unless I try to speak or move my right side, they are invisible to the world. This makes it hard to verify I am having one to employers and a lot of times they do not believe they really happen. Since traditional jobs are not a good option for me, barrel racing and making custom rodeo shirts and clothes through Rodeo Karma has really saved me in more ways than one. Yes, having epilepsy is hard, especially with the kind I have; but I refuse to let it stop me from creating a life I am proud of and that my daughter can be proud of.
I get asked a lot about how I came up with the name. For me Karma is more than just payback for wrongdoing. It is about putting good energy out into the world so that good things happen, so that the world is a better place. Whether the world you are improving is your community, your sport, or one person; it matters all the same. Sometimes the biggest things come from small beginnings. So, I wanted to start a company that encouraged competitors to push each other through motivation, support and by being a tough competitor. And I wanted competitors to ENGAGE fans and potential fans to bring them into our sport and encourage them to come to more, to even try it themselves! Because our community is a small one, our sport is only going to succeed if we keep bettering ourselves in the arena and going up against the best we can. Our community will thrive only if we bring in new blood, both fans and competitors. If we do not adapt, we go extinct. And I believe good sportsmanship is a key ingredient to doing that. If you put good karma out into the world, you will receive it back in heaps!
I am now a single mom, and this past year has been hard. Between breaking up with my daughters father, being surprised with a custody battle, almost being homeless and away from all of my family; to not being able to compete due to travel restrictions put into place by the family court because of the custody battle, to lost income because of those same restrictions and being prevented from going and setting up a booth at the All In Barrel Race (a main source of my sales); and then throw in the COVID-19 pandemic and things got even tighter as they did for so many small business owners. I have managed to keep my small business going throughout this all and have refused to quit or allow everything that has happened to make me bitter. This year I have learned that the world can turn upside down and that people can try and break you; yet I have withstood it all and kept my head up and stayed as positive as I can, all for my daughter. I will continue to move forward and send out positive Karma, because I have known pain and struggle and I do not wish others to feel the same.