If you ever want to meet someone who is all enthusiasm, joy, talent, and hard work, Sheryl Ward is that person. She is so happy, and that happiness and enthusiasm for life just jumps out of her when one talks to her. She has a deep love for her family beyond anything else, but also has a love for the things she does outside of her family. She is very talented and a great leader. She also holds a leadership position in her church and is very devoted to her faith.
Sheryl, her husband, Wynden, and their two boys, Karson and Miles, live on a beef ranch in Ovid, Ida., where Sheryl says she is “more help in the corral than the kitchen.” She is a stay-at-home mom and ranch hand and enjoys that way of life, moving cows and working cows and doing everything else that ranch life requires.
Sheryl was born and raised in Woodruff, Ut., where she began riding horses from age three or earlier, loving them from day one, riding them daily from day one. In fact, she loved to show off those horses and herself a bit becoming the Woodruff Homecoming Queen of Rich County, then the Rich County Princess, then the Rich County First Attendant, and then the Rich County Queen after that. From there she moved on to become the Raspberry Days Queen, and lastly, she became the Woodruff Queen again. She loved “doing the horse thing” and was obsessed with horses her entire life.
She also enjoyed reining cow horses and competed in that for a year. She planned to continue doing that but found her husband-to-be and got married, after which things changed.
But she did not quit riding horses! No sir! Since 2013, Sheryl has been training “flagging” teams. What does that mean, you ask? Well, that means that Sheryl has trained anywhere from 12 to 16 women at a time to ride horses while carrying or “packing” American flags and moving in synchronized formations to music around the inside of an arena. They always perform two numbers; one to a popular song or blend of songs, and one to the National Anthem, while the crowd salutes the flags. Sheryl arranges these formations herself by thinking of a pattern after researching patterns that drill teams and other horse teams do and imagining whether or not her horse team can do them, all the while trying to avoid any dead time so there is always something going on, the rhythms are correct, the timing is perfect, and the precision is dead-on. They have gone from performing a little bit to performing in many venues. For example, this year they performed at the Woodruff Homecoming Celebration, Raspberry Days Rodeos, Bear Lake County Fair Rodeos, and the Rich County Fair Rodeos.
During performances, the riders wear black team shirts with the team name, “RC Flagging Team,” across the front in white. They also wear blue jeans and a black cowboy hat. The “RC” used to stand for “Rich County,” but according to Sheryl, the “RC” now stands for “Rockin’ Cowgirls!” They would eventually like to have team chaps, but will need more sponsorships for that. The horses’ four legs are also wrapped with white polo wraps.
Sheryl always looks for talented riders; ones who are experienced with horses, but who can also be trained for this particular type of riding. Then there are the horses – they have to be able to handle the flag being on them and be well-mannered with no biting or kicking. Most of the horses have a job at home on a ranch or farm, then they come and learn precision pivoting, walk trotting, and running, all the while carrying the flag. Sometimes the music can bother them or the people and commotion, but Sheryl says they usually do a really good job, especially after training.
The team practices once a week for the entire summer, putting in a lot of time. They start the end of May or first of June and don’t end until the last rodeo at Rich County. The riders are required to be very dedicated and can only miss one practice, if that, during the entire period. It is difficult to get the timing and spacing down, and that can’t be critiqued if every horse and rider is not at practice. Sheryl says that her ladies have been wonderful so far.
The current team consists of riders from Bear Lake County, Ida.; Cokeville, Wyo.; Randolph and Woodruff, Uta.; and Evanston, Wyo. Sheryl is very proud of what she has accomplished and with her team. She summed it up when she said, “I love to do this, so thank you for playing with me. If you didn’t come to play, I couldn’t do this myself. Carrying flags – I love it!”
Sheryl calls herself an “everyday country girl.” It seems she may be a little more than that. Her talent and enthusiasm and just plain hard work make her an “awesome country girl,” full of ideas and able to get people and horses to do what she wants them to do, along with a husband and children at home, a ranch to work on, a church job, and the PTO in Paris to be part of. That has “awesome” written all over it!