Old Horse, New Tricks

With Diggers Doc Doll Star as her wings, 12-year-old trick rider Neacy Berger can really fly.

By Amy Olson

Twenty-year-old Diggers Doc Doll Star is the picture of calm as he steps into the bustling rodeo arena, where flags snap back and forth in the wind and crowds buzz with excitement like electric current through the stands. The stoic former ranch horse takes it all in with liquid brown eyes, just another day on the job. But lately, “Cruiser,” has started a new role, and the 2003 bay tobiano gelding is decked out for the show, with red and blue ribbons decorating his mane and tail and matching 12-year-old Neacy Berger sitting atop a white saddle, eager to step into the ring as trick-riding performers.

New Tricks

Neacy’s grandparents bought Cruiser as a youngster, and he joined the family’s humble remuda on their ranch in Southern Wyoming. A faithful hand, he can still be found carrying family members as they gather, move and brand cattle.

Somewhere along the line, Cruiser was given a promotion of sorts, serving as a pickup-man mount during rodeo roughstock events with Neacy’s father, Kirby. Though it was different from the range, Cruiser soon grew accustomed to the bright lights, bold bulls and enthusiastic rodeo crowds.

A few years ago, Neacy began dreaming of becoming a trick rider, thanks to watching sensational rodeo performances at events like Cheyenne Frontier Days. She didn’t have a saddle or a trained trick-riding horse, but that didn’t stop the determined young equestrienne.

“She kind of started when she was pretty little, just in her ranch saddle at brandings, hanging from stirrups and the saddle horn and standing up on her horse—just kind of copying things she’d seen the girls do in Frontier Days,” Neacy’s mother, Dixie, said.


This is an excerpt from the full article—get the whole story in the Spring 2023 Chrome magazine, which is sent to all current APHA members. Not a member? Join or renew at apha.com/join.