Linda Christensen Parkhurst
Class of 2019
Linda was born into the ranching and rodeo family of Christensen Brothers in Eugene, OR. Her Grandparents Molly and Lawrence (Pops) Christensen along with their children, her Dad Henry (Hank), Uncle Bob Sr. and her Aunt Martha (Babe), ran the ranch and eventually Christensen Brothers Rodeo Co.
Her first chores on the ranch besides helping her Mom Pat around the house was to go with her Dad and help gather and feed the livestock. When she was a little older she worked at the rodeos chasing cattle out of the arena and carrying a flag in the grand entry. At about 10 she fell in love with trick riding and dreamed of becoming a trick rider.
When she was around 12 years old and on into her adulthood she started helping during hay season by raking hay, driving the trucks, and cooking with her Mom for all the ranch hands and guests of their parties.
At about 14 or 15 she came up with the idea and made a deal with her Dad to take the bucking horses that no longer bucked from the rodeo company and train them to be resold as “saddle horses”, giving her Dad a percentage of the sales she made.
Linda also trained her own barrel horses. She barrel raced in her first professional rodeo when she was 14 and at the age of 15 won the barrel racing at the PRCA rodeo in Gooding ID. In 1965 she won runner up in the Oregon Barrel Racing Association and came in 5th the following year.
Also in 1965 when Linda was 17 she began working as a timer, her Dad had hired Corrine Williams a trick rider, saddle bronc rider, and bulldogger to perform at a few of their rodeos. She talked Corrine into giving her a couple of trick riding lessons.
Later that year she was sitting in the stands at the Puyallup, WA rodeo, Connie and Dick Griffith had the trick riding contract there, and Connie’s leg was broken so she told Linda to go down to the arena and show them what she had. Dick decided he could teach her the easy tricks to perform; the catch was he only had one day to work with her before she had to be performance ready. So, her first trick riding job was at Puyallup she performed for 10 days 2 performances per day.
She began working as a rodeo secretary at about 18 or 19 and continued timing. She used to take entries over the phone, they would have to write them down by hand and then type them out to be posted.
Linda started team roping when she was 15 or 16 and continued to compete into her 30’s. She also hazed at the PRCA rodeo in Myrtle Point, OR a couple of years for the bulldoggers when they were hard pressed for a skilled hazer. She even rode steers in rodeo as a child at the urging of her Dad.
She continued barrel racing and in 1967 won 1st place at the PRCA rodeo in Salt Lake City, UT. In 1973 she was elected the Tri State Girls Rodeo Association President.
She didn’t trick ride again until she was 30 in 1978. By then people told her she was too old but that’s when her trick riding career began to take off. At first she trick rode on her cousin Vicki’s horse until she was able to train her own horses. Linda, her sister Sherri and their Mom would design and sew their own trick riding costumes.
That same year she won 1st place in the barrel racing at the Tacoma Unit all ages Quarter Horse Show competing against Quarter Horses from all over the US. Linda trained other trick riders to work with her and her sister Sherri like Dana Barry, Kelly Wagner and Willie Smith. She went on to fulfill her dreams trick riding and barrel racing in her 30’s.
The pinnacle of her career in trick riding was being hired to perform at the Salinas, CA rodeo for 4 years during the late 1970’s and early 1980’s, trick riding in her hometown of Eugene, OR, and the Puyallup, WA rodeo because back then it was the longest running outdoor rodeo in the world.
Some of the highlights of her barrel racing career were finishing 3rd two times in the Columbia River Circuit in the late 1970’s. The peak of her barrel racing career was the year she was a few dollars out of 1st place for the Columbia River Circuit. She blew out her knee trick riding and wasn’t able to continue to compete so she finished in 2nd place for the Columbia River Circuit.
She continued to work on the ranch in her 30’s when she wasn’t contesting and working rodeos. In the fall after the CB and California rodeos were over she would get a full time job in town to help her Dad and Mom with the bills. She worked until the first rodeo in April, which was Oakdale, CA. While working full time in town she fed the livestock that was home from the rodeos and cut wood.
In the past number of years she worked as a Medical Assistant until she retired to spend more time with her family; two beautiful daughters Anna and Amy, Son-in law Giuseppe, Grandson Vincenzo, and husband Mel.
Linda still spends time trail riding and helping care for a small herd of cattle. She loves to garden, can food; read and most of all spend time with her family.
She feels lucky to have worked and competed at rodeos and grown up on a beautiful ranch. She is thankful for the life of dreams she lived and to have become a strong woman like her pioneer Grandmother Molly Christensen.