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Greener pastures: Young family ditches desert heat to balance rodeo life

Steegal Family
Posted at 2:47 PM, Jul 07, 2024

CODY, Wyo. — Locals call Cody, Wyoming, the Rodeo Capital of the World — and why not? Some families show up to make a night of it, while others like the Stegalls make a full summer of it on a nightly basis.

Their summer home, much to the delight of 1-year-old daughter Steely, who has plenty of room to play, is a flat spot next to the rodeo grounds where the small family sets up camp for three months with lots of toys, dogs and, naturally, horses.

“I guess we have four and a half ... because we have four horses and then we have a little pony for our daughter,” Steely's dad Justin Stegall told MTN Sports while casually seated on a cooler filled outside the family trailer.

As for the pair of canines?

“We have Dixie, which is a wiener dog," explained mom Arianna with Dixie playing at her feet and Steely in her lap, "... and Mila, which is a blue heeler.”

The Stegalls actually call Arizona home, but make the long haul north to desert the desert heat and settle in to compete all summer at just one spot — the Cody Nite Rodeo.

“Having the ability to rodeo every single night, you really can’t beat that,” said Arianna.

Young and ambitious, the Stegalls admit a full summer in tight camping quarters can be challenging, from navigating thunderstorms in the nearby Bighorn Mountains, to affordable meals, to the simplicity of washing clothes.

“We do the laundromat and it’s an all-day ordeal,” Arianna said with a laugh.

“Even since college, I’ve always been the laundry sorter," admitted Justin. "I’m very particular in the way I like to wash the laundry.”

“We really try to cook a lot here," Arianna continued. "It gets really expensive to eat out, even if you’re eating fast food, it adds up.”

One benefit of staying put is avoiding diesel prices which can also add up in a hurry.

“Yeah, that definitely hurts," Justin said. "It’s one of the biggest expenses of being on the road … that and tires.”

Though they don’t have to drive to work this summer, both parents keep remote day jobs — she as a legal assistant, he has an insurance adjuster.

“We’re grateful to be able to work that way, but in another sense it’s been an adjustment learning to work in coffee shops and small places,” Justin said, adding that the family recently bought Starlink for high speed internet access straight to the camper.

Once the day jobs wrap up it’s back to campground chores, off to feed those "four and a half horses" and helping Steely enjoy her pony ride. Then mom and dad aim to tighten their rodeo skills chasing nightly money inside the arena.

“I breakaway and team rope," Arianna said. "I head for my husband and he heels for me.”

 Justin is also a tie-down roper, so most evenings culminate in two events apiece.

“It’s been our passion in college and before college, so it’s nice to still get to do that,” Justin said.

“You can really come up here and make some money at the end of the summer," said Arianna. "So, we come up here to basically make an extra income.”

From Memorial Day weekend to Labor Day weekend for the Stegalls it's literally wash, rinse and repeat at Cody's rodeo grounds.

“You do have to love it because it’s a lot,” said Arianna with arms and lap still full.