Sugarwater Ranch

Hey, all, I want to introduce you to a new friend of mine. Stephanie Berget is a true blue cowgirl who hails from one of my favorite places in the country to rodeo, the southeast corner of Oregon. Although we’ve never met in person and only online recently, we share a whole lot of acquaintances due to the fact that I lived and competed in the Pacific Northwest for ten years, and rodeo is a very small world.

Stephanie’s debut book, Sugarwater Ranch,  was released not long ago, and I can’t wait until I have time to dive in. Until then, I’m gonna have to settle for sharing the cover, a blurb, and little chat with Stephanie:


Sean O’Connell’s life is perfect, or it was until his partying lifestyle affected his bull riding. Now he’s ended the season too broke to leave the Northwest for the warm southern rodeos. When a wild night with his buddies gets out of hand, he wakes up naked, staring into the angry eyes of a strange woman. His infallible O’Connell charm gets him nowhere with the dark-haired beauty. It’s obvious she’s not his usual good-time girl, so why can’t he forget her?

Bar-manager Catherine Silvera finds a waterlogged, unconscious cowboy freezing to death in front of the Sugarwater Bar. She saves his life–then runs faster than a jackrabbit with a coyote on its tail.  Any man who makes his living rodeoing is bad news, especially if he thinks partying is part of the competition. He’s everything she doesn’t want in a man, so why can’t she shake her attraction to the rugged cowboy?

KLDELL: The first time I remember competing in an official barrel racing, I was eight years old and it was the Montana Winter Fair. We have a picture of me rounding the third barrel, eyes as big as saucers. What’s your earliest rodeo memory?

Stephanie: When I was fifteen, my parents broke down and bought me my first horse. He was a three-year-old, grade buckskin gelding named Gypsy, and I trained him myself. By the way, that is not something I recommend. The first time I can remember entering a rodeo was the Caldwell Little Britches Rodeo. I was so scared, I couldn’t have told you my name, but Gypsy, bless his heart, rounded the barrels without much help from me.

A few years later, I was lucky enough to be able to ride with Larry and Kay Davis, two of the best barrel horse trainers in the west. I went on to train and compete on barrel horses throughout the Northwest. Ruff’s King Tutt and Suzi’s Last Flight were two of the best horses I had the pleasure of owning. Great horses teach you so much and those two taught me how to compete and win.

KLDELL: My dad is a roper, my brother is a roper, all of my cousins but one are ropers (we’re not sure what went wrong with cousin Beau, but we try not to make fun of the saddle bronc rider). It was pretty much pre-destined that I’d be a roper and marry one. What about your family?

Stephanie: My parents are dyed-in-the-wool city people and have never figured out where my love of horses came from. The closest they ever came to my horses was to pet them. They did take me to the Snake River Stampede every year and that fueled my desire to barrel race.

When I was nineteen years old I fell in love with a rodeo cowboy. He rode bareback and saddle broncs and was (and still is) the handsomest man I’ve ever met. Forty-two years later he’s a team roper and helps me train barrel horses, but he’ll always be a rough stock rider in my mind. Both our daughter and oldest son rope. Our younger son is a physicist. Kind of like my parents, we’re proud, but we wonder where the heck he came from.

KLDELL: Night rodeos, Sunday afternoon perf, early morning slack…what was your favorite time to compete, and why


Stephanie: Barrel racing anywhere is a blast, but if given a choice, I’d choose to run at night rodeos, during the performance. Competing under the lights is exhilarating. My horses always seem to run harder, and the noise from the crowd adds to the excitement. Big or small, there’s nothing like rodeo.

You can find Stephanie at, along with links to where to buy Sugarwater Ranch