Benckenstein Inspires Others to Follow Rodeo Footsteps

Crowley High teacher Krysta Benckenstein has inspired some students to participate in rodeos.

Dwayne Petry

Crowley High teacher Krysta Benckenstein has inspired some students to participate in rodeos.

Amaria Johnson, Assistant Online Editor

Not only does Crowley High School agriscience/biology teacher Krysta Benckenstein compete in rodeos, but her love for the sport also has inspired others to become involved.

Benckenstein, or “Benck” has she is also known, explained what she enjoys about rodeos.   “Everything–the people, the animals, the speed. The people become family, the animals are so athletic. The speed is just awesome. It’s the best way to be raised in my opinion.”

Benckenstein, 30, explained how she became involved in rodeos.  “It’s really in my blood. My grandfather on my mom’s side was a steer wrestler. He was one of my biggest supporters.  He always believed in me. My three aunts on my dad’s side all rodeoed as well.

“My cousin had horses when we were [really] young, and she got to ride, so I wanted to as well.  I don’t think I had to be inspired, it’s just in my blood. I am a third-generation cowgirl, so it’s just me.”

She has been competing in local rodeos since she was 11 years old and mostly participates in barrel racing and pole bending.

“My family is super supportive. It’s all I ever talked about as a kid and it has continued into adulthood.”  

She recalled the first time competing in barrel racing.  “I was not nervous. I was just so happy to be able to compete, finally.”

Benckenstein knows she has to continue to work on her craft.  “I feel like I have improved. Even though I feel very knowledgeable about barrel racing, I still look for things to improve on. There is always something to learn or work on.”

She also trains as much as she can. “We try to practice at least four days per week, but the weather really decides how often.”

She trains four quarter horses ranging in age from 14 to 17 years-old.  “Their names are Piper, Cowboy, Cheyenne, and Pistol. I’ve had Piper and Cowboy for 15 years, Pistol for four, and Cheyenne for three. All of them stay on my property.”

She stated that the relationship between the horse and rider can be very important.  “Some horses will work the same for any rider, but others will not work as well if they know they don’t have to with certain riders, kind of like kids,” Benckenstein explained.

Benck competes in rodeos almost every weekend. “I have been all over the state of Louisiana into Texas and Mississippi. The coolest rodeo I have competed in was the Angola Prison Rodeo, and I placed third.”

She hopes to also compete in working cow horse, cutting, and jumping in the future.  “I plan on competing in rodeos until I can no longer sit on a horse.”

One of Benck’s personal goals consists of competing at the National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas. “It would be really amazing if I did it on a horse that I had trained,” she admitted.

Benck helps keep the rodeo going by back up timing, opening gates, or picking up barrels/poles if needed. She has also been a large part of the club’s fundraising committee and she builds the trophy saddle racks with her ag students. 

Benckenstein graduated from McNeese State University with a Bachelor of Arts in animal science with a concentration in agribusiness.

Besides her teaching responsibilities, she is involved in the Future Farmers of America where she trains the horse and poultry judging teams. 

Other than rodeo activities, Benck is also a full-time mother to her step-daughter, Ashtyn Spell, 15, who goes to Iota High. 

According to Benck, Spell always liked horses. “When her dad and I started dating, he would bring her to ride. She fell in love with it and wanted to compete with me.

“She is doing very well. She is riding our two older horses that I trained and competed on when I was in high school. One of them was my roping horse, but she trained him to run barrels, and they are amazing together.”

Spell has been competing in barrel and pole racing for about five years, and she has started goat tying.  She participates in rodeos for Iota High, and she travels with Benckenstein to compete in jackpots around Louisiana.

Spell explained how Benckenstein has helped her.  “She has taught me everything that I know. She continues to watch me and help me adjust how I ride.  I have become a better rider and I’ve gotten faster,” she said. “We also have gotten closer and our relationship has gotten better.” 

Spell practices a couple of times a week, all depending on the weather. “We also practice at our house, rent arenas, or our friends’ houses.” 

Benck has also inspired Abigail Wulf, a 16-year-old junior at CHS, whom she describes as her sidekick. She is also involved with Benck’s rodeo events and tries to go to as many as she can. 

Wulf knows Benck’s boyfriend, Cory, and her step-daughter, Ashtyn, whom she met at the rodeo. 

Although she is not necessarily involved in the actual rodeo, Wulf does help and stay throughout the show. “I first became involved with Benck’s rodeos because I went to look at leads and began to help out.” 

Wulf records Benck’s runs and does anything they need help with, such as setting up barrels, poles, etc. 

“I do want to participate in rodeos. Being around [Benck] has taught me how much work and practice has to be put in,” claimed Wulf. “Every time I spend time with Ms. Benckenstein, I learn something new…Spending time with her teaches me responsibility and hard work and prepares me for my future.” 

Crowley High students Allen Wulf, Alaina Cormier, Kaitlyn George, Cystin Molette, and Hunter Cradeur also help Benckenstein out at the rodeos.

“I try to be a role model as far as my work ethic. These kids come and see how much work we put into our horses, and I hope they can find something to be passionate about also,” claimed Benckenstein. 

“I had decided when I became a teacher I would do all that I can to give all my students an opportunity to experience something different and it is pure joy for me to be able to do this with these kids.”

As a final comment, Benck describes the rodeo as “something all kids should experience.”

If someone is interested in participating in rodeos, Benck has some advice for them, “Patience–you won’t get it the first time. Perseverance- don’t quit because it’s hard. Challenge yourself It’s how we grow as people. Be honest– mostly with yourself.”