The life of a rodeo wife is way more than walking the Gold Carpet at the Back Number Ceremony at the South Point in December. Lindsay Branquinho is one woman that sure enough knows the struggles, trials, and commitment that is required. The wives of rodeo athletes all had lives before the days of getting to cheer on their husbands from Plaza seats at the Thomas and Mack. Lindsay’s wildly popular blog, Companion Pass, tells the stories, both strifes and successes, of women in the western industry and their take on everything they signed up for in the hectic, crazy, and amazing world of rodeo.
Lindsay herself has had quite the road to get where she’s at today. If you ask her though, she wouldn’t trade any of it.
Lindsay grew up in Prescott, Arizona as the daughter in a family that was heavily involved in the agricultural community and has been around horses for as long as she can remember. For her, 4H was the gateway drug to getting into equine competitions. She went from junior high rodeos, on to high school, then made National High School Finals three out of four years, and eventually found herself on the college circuit. Her time at the NIRA was short-lived though. Lindsay decided she wanted to up her game with the next level of competition and after just six months of college rodeoing, she got her pro card.
Her parents didn’t pressure her to stay in school or force her to follow a plan previously laid out for her; they encouraged her and had her back the entire way. With support like that, Lindsay followed her dreams and remembers that time in her life getting to see rural towns all over America in ways that many people never will. Her biggest takeaway from that time on the road is, “People are genuinely kind and helpful. Everyone has different life stories but they all have a commonality. I was 19 years old and traveling the country alone. People I didn’t know took care of me while I was on the road and made sure I had what I needed. There’s an inherent kindness and family-like feeling in our sport that you won’t find anywhere else.”
After being on the pro trail for six months Lindsay met tail-shakin’ Luke Branquinho in California during the spring rodeos. The couple met in June at the Turlock Rodeo, started dating in the fall, and then they were engaged just one year later during the same week of the Turlock Rodeo. Four months later, they married the weekend after Thanksgiving. As if that wasn’t enough of a whirlwind, Luke won his first PRCA world title just weeks later at the 2004 NFR.
For the first few months of their marriage, Lindsay and Luke tried to rodeo together and she remembers it being one of the hardest times for them. Especially when Luke tore his pectoral muscle from the bone the following summer, Lindsay made the decision to stay home with him for six months while he healed up. They immediately faced enormous challenges like where they were even going to live at since the newlyweds had been living in their trailer ever since they got married. Lindsay says, “That’s a good way to check your marriage! Live in a trailer for the first six months with a bunch of other bull doggers and then face a big injury on top of that. Plans went out the window really fast. We were really young when we got married and had to grow up together pretty quick.”
New plans were made and the pair went home so Luke could rest up. It wasn’t long though and devastation hit when Lindsay lost her good horse. Luke soon had to go back out on the road and focus on winning some rodeos.
“I lost my good horse so I got a job in town at a boutique and stayed home. A few years later, we had three boys at home so I would go meet Luke wherever he was at every so often. I never really rodeoed much after that. I had another horse but my goals changed and so did my concentration, I wanted to focus on being a mom. I have so much respect for the women that travel with their husbands and their kids. Traveling with just yourself and your spouse is difficult and traveling with a family is not for the faint of heart.”
As Lindsay readjusted to life at home, she began to realize another dream of hers that had been secondary to horses for a long time: fashion. She worked at that same boutique for five years doing the managing and buying. Eventually, she bought the business in 2013. “Now I own my own shop and I love it, it’s a huge part of who I am. Owning a small business is really hard sometimes and there are a lot of challenges that come with it but that’s where my heart is. It provides me with the best of all the worlds. I have a creative outlet and get to execute my ideas, I get to use my love of fashion, and it provides me the flexibility to be involved with everything else going on in our lives. I can help take care of the ranch, be as involved with our kids as I need to be, and travel with Luke from time to time.”
One of Lindsay’s ideas that manifested from her creative outlet is her blog. With the Branquinho Family living in California, they’re not at the epicenter of the rodeo world and a lot of the people around them just don’t get it.
“It started out as a way to tell my story and then to tell other stories. I just wanted people that weren’t familiar with our world to have a way in. Then if people are already involved, they have a way to learn even more. Every person that rodeos does it a little differently. Companion Pass came from knowing that there are so many women out there that I didn’t know personally, but I knew a bit of their unique story and wanted to know more and for them to be able to share that. I honestly didn’t even know what I was getting into but everyone that I’ve talked to has been beyond amazing and excited to share their story. When they start telling their background and their stories of being the companion person to these rodeo stars, it’s something that no one has ever heard before. It felt like these behind the scenes tales was an untapped wealth of stories. These women amaze me with their strength and love for their significant others and their words have blown me away. They sacrifice so much to be able to support what many would deem as crazy dreams. So many cowboys rodeo for YEARS before they ever find real success and there’s always someone at home keeping him going. No cowboy that’s at the top of his game has ever done it truly alone.”
After talking with Lindsay, it’s pretty amazing to try and wrap your head around the kind of person she is and the way she handles things. The beginning of her marriage with Luke was trial by fire and it became evidently clear very fast that it would not always be a fairy tale all the time. She didn’t buck the challenge though. She locked arms with her husband and faced everything head on. She was flexible where she needed to be and stood her ground against strife in other areas. She took on all roles that were thrown at her and unconditionally supported her husband and three boys in the process. She came out of the fire and you can tell she paid attention to every lesson that life was trying to teach her.
It goes even further though…now she’s gone looking for other women’s similar stories. Not only that, but Lindsay learns from what they have to offer and helps them to showcase that so other people have the opportunity to learn as well. It takes a special kind of person to be able to fight their own battles with such strength and still want to share that with others in hopes that it will help. It takes 100 times that to have the ability to get takeaways from everyone else’s stories and give them support as they become public.
Instagram - @lindsaybranquinho
Article by Katie Armstrong @thekatielynn