Are A&E’s Rodeo Girls real professional barrel racers?

A&E Rodeo Girls cast photo

Wednesday night A&E premieres its latest reality show venture Rodeo Girls starring a line up of easy-on-the-eyes female barrel racers as they navigate the professional rodeo circuit and all of its pitfalls — both in the rodeo ring and out. As is the case any time a preview trailer for a reality show features cast members in bikinis having a good time (Heaven forbid), there has been a pre-airing backlash against Rodeo Girls from some purists who insist the show isn’t an accurate portrayal of successful, hard-working rodeo girls, with suggestions that the women on the show aren’t even “real” professional rodeo girls. So, I did a little research to see just how accurate these accusations are.

First, I think it’s important to explain the origins of the show. Darcy LaPier has a headline-grabbing past that includes marriages to Hawaiian Tropic head honcho Ron Rice, actor Jean-Claude Van Damme and Herbalife founder Mark Hughes, the latter of which died tragically shortly after marrying Darcy from a toxic combination of alcohol and Doxepin in 1999.

Rodeo Girls Darcy LaPier barrel racing

After Hughes death, Darcy (seen horseback above) moved back to her home state of Oregon where she bought a ranch and eventually became captivated by horses and the barrel-racing ladies she’d see at the rodeo. Darcy began barrel racing in 2004 and later that year she took home the honor of NPRA Rookie of the Year. Since that time Darcy LaPier has continued barrel racing professionally and continued being a huge fan of the sport as well.

A few years ago Darcy was at Disneyland with her son innocently reading rodeo magazines when a producer for Ryan Seacrest approached her and the two began talking about her passion for the sport. “He said that they should do a show about me and the rodeo, but I didn’t really take it to heart,” Darcy told in an interview. “So, we get back to L.A. a week later, and he invited me down to see him. I brought my book of rodeo photos and met everyone there. Everyone was excited, but they realized that they would have to shoot up here at the rodeos, and they don’t have the budget to shoot outside of California. This was right after Christmas — and the economy started tanking.”

Darcy thought that was the end of that, but she later received a call from another producer interested in the concept and Rodeo Girls was born.

A&E Rodeo Girls Darcy LaPier

I assume at some point Darcy worked with producers on putting a cast together, and of course they would be looking for attractive women — this is reality TV after all! So, in addition to Darcy LaPier, the show went with two established professional barrel racers (Barb West and Marvel Murphy) as well as two “rookie” up-and-comers looking to break into the professional rodeo circuit (Megan Etcheberry and Jessica Holmberg).

Here’s a little on the barrel-racing pedigrees of Barb and Marvel:


Rodeo Girls Barb West professional barrel racer

A card-holding barrel racer since 2001, Barb West wears her buckles and drives her prized Dodge truck with pride!

Known by her competitors and friends as “Wicked” West for her wicked horsemanship in and out of the arena, Barb is the 2009 Dodge National Circuit Finals Rodeo (DNCFR) Champion, a Columbia River Circuit Final Champion, and a world record breaker for her ‘16.735’ timed run in 2007 at the Brn4d Final 1D Championship – all titles that she proudly shares with her now retired riding partner, Scottie Too Hottie aka ‘Scottie’.



Rodeo Girls Marvel Murphy barrel racer

“Marvelous Marv” can’t remember a time when she wasn’t riding horses.

As a three-time Nevada State High School All-Around Champion Cowgirl, this Reno native won herself a rodeo scholarship to Texas Tech University. She’s been a card-holding pro since 1996 and is a fierce competitor and a top rider.

Marvel has ranked among the WPRA top 50 and has been a circuit qualifier. Throughout her rodeo career, Marv has won 3 horse trailers, a $5,000 check and a trailer worth $20,000.

(source: A&E)

Doing a little research on I found that Marvel Murphy was ranked 65th in the final 2012 WPRA Tour Standings and currently ranks 315th in the 2013 standings.

Barb West, who is returning to the circuit after a few years away, ranked 26th in the 2008 WPRA World Standings and currently ranks 164th on the 2013 WPRA World pro rodeo standings.

Rodeo Girls Megan Etcheberry barrel racer

Meanwhile, a I mentioned previously, Megan Etcheberry (seen above) and Jessica Holmberg (below) are relatively new to the professional barrel racing circuit, and as a result, don’t show up in the 2013 rankings. That being said, both young ladies are quite familiar with barrel racing, with Jessica having quite the pre-professional resume. From A&E:

Although she’s new to the professional arena, Jessica’s no stranger to the rodeo life. Barrel racing since she was nine years old, Jessica was a National High School Rodeo qualifier, and has ranked in the Top 15 Open and Youth Barrel Racing standings. In 2009, Jessica broke the record at the Trails End arena on Olympia, Washington.

Rodeo Girls Jessica Holmberg barrel racer

So, the answer to the question “Are the Rodeo Girls real professional barrel racers?” is yes — and a little bit of no. Barb, Marvel and even Darcy have quite the proven track record, but clearly Megan and Jessica aren’t seasoned professionals. The VERY important thing to remember is that A&E is very up front about the professional experience (or lack thereof in the case of Megan and Jessica) for all of the cast members. Actually, the fact that Megan and Jessica are trying to break in to the professional rodeo circuit is a huge part of the narrative of Rodeo Girls — and I can’t imagine that the show will demonstrate anything other than attaining success as a professional barrel racer is hard as hell.

Another important thing to remember is that this isn’t a documentary about barrel racing, it is a reality show about barrel racers — more specifically, barrel racers Darcy LaPier, Barb West, Marvel Murphy, Megan Etcheberry and Jessica Holmberg. Sure, the show will have serious elements (I assume) as it tries to convey what life is like for real deal pro barrel racers, but in the end the show’s main goal is to entertain and to keep viewers tuning in each and every week. So of course when the gals aren’t on horseback they are going to have a few drinks, date a few guys, wear a few bikinis and otherwise be relatable (and attractive) to the non-barrel-racing viewership out there. I know I’m excited to tune in for all of it!

Rodeo Girls premieres on A&E Wednesday, December 11 at 11/10c just after the Duck Dynasty Christmas Special and will then air another new episode the next night, Thursday, December 12 at 10/9c. After that new episodes will air weekly on Thursday nights at 10/9c.

Here’s the preview trailer:

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  • rowdygals

    I, for one m looking forward to the show Honestly, it can’t be any worse than what happens in real life. I have had friends who rodeo and whoooaaa nelly! The stories they tell!

  • Guest

    I have drian snodgrass and if so why they palying her as single and a Widower?

    • bamadoll92

      she is single…she and brian snodgrass divorced in aug 2013 and she is a widow and will always be a widow. she is mark hughes widow since he passed away while they were married.

      • Popgirl

        Semantics. She fails to mention she was married for 11 years after that and is now divorced from her last husband or at the time of filming was separated going through a divorce.

    • Guest65

      I know she is a widow .. I lived in the town in which she is from … I just had not heard that her and Brian were divorced… did not mean to offend or make anyone mad. they had not mentioned the marriage so was just curious thats all…..

  • Grace Lindsay

    I have noticed that they are playing it off as if Darcy Lapier is single and a widower.. after research it mentions that she is married to Brian Snodgrass whats up?

    • bamadoll92

      she and brian snodgrass divorced in aug 2013. a little more research would have told you that. and she is a widow, she is mark hughes widow since he passed while they were married.

      • Popgirl

        Then why does she say on the show when the guy asked her out on a date that she hasn’t been on a date since her husband died? On the show she hasn’t mentioned her fourth marriage.

        • Lisa M. Cisneros-Kreul

          right on. such a fake

      • Lisa M. Cisneros-Kreul

        then she was married 4 times. SHE SHOULD BE HOME WITH HER KIDS, instead of trying to act like she’s young. gross.

        • Amy

          5 times. it says she was married to 1st husband, then to the owner of h.tropic, then to van dam then to the man who owned herbalife, and he died, so then married again and just divorced? sounds like 5 to me. I read that the marriage to the H. tropic guy was annulled because it later was found that she never divorced her first husband.

          • Lisa M. Cisneros-Kreul

            well proves my point . GROSS.
            there is more interesting thing to film then that,. That’s just my opinion.


    PLEASE! This show is so fake! I was on the rodeo circuit for 10 years, and the barrel racers didn’t “hang out” together, and sure as hell didn’t hang out before and after the rodeo.
    Charmayne James, Sherry Cervi, and Kristie Peterson are laughing their ass off at this show!
    This show is not showing women at PRO rodeos, its merely showing girls at a jackpot!
    A&E might be able to fool most of the population, but you can’t fool everyone!
    Nice try A&E! NOT WORTH MY TIME!

    • sage

      Hollywood is finally trying to scuz the last frontier of independent women who live their lives by what they can do, not their t*ts and a*s. Women who sell out, disrespect the women who are living the real life. Give me a natural cowgirl any day over these posers .

    • Harry Johnson

      The shows fun and entertaining, who care what your opinion is. So you are telling us not to watch it on your notion of its authenticity?

  • Naxx1978

    Don’t mind its fake but why do they always have to pick these oversexed amateurs ? So basically rodeos are just breast implants and sex with some barrel racing thrown in. It just seems they really just want to do a reality show about strippers but need a little more plot and not be so obvious. Just pathetic.

  • Wtfbtches

    Stooped btchs

  • Wtfbtches

    White women turning into black women. Spiteful backstabbing $$ grubbin hoes that have their ugly faces on TV.

    • DigDigDigDig

      Thankfully most of the honest cowgirls I know would slap you across the face for saying that racist crap. Get some morals.

  • Wtfbtches

    Who is the ho married to jcvd what an idiot. Enjoy your fame hoes you are crushing an honorable sport, activity, lifestyle and way of life for functional people. DUMB BTCHS

  • SaminCLWA

    Have watched 1-1/2 “shows” and am thoroughly disappointed!! 1) to much make-up 2) poor editing (what’s up with the bumpers on the stirrups as they ride into the arena in 1st episode) 3) filming in an empty arena which was supposedly a competition. Pretty girls are a dime a dozen. Reality shows are a waste of time. There aren’t 10 seconds of reality in a one-hour show.

    • Popgirl

      Darcy’s makeup makes her look like a drag queen. She’s a pretty woman if she wasn’t caked with makeup and such heavy eye-makeup and bad blown-up lips. She would be so much prettier with her makeup toned down.

      • Shelby Elaine “baby backwood E


    • Courtney

      Its probably just someone’s indoor riding ring they used for filming this shows a joke!

  • CRStardist

    This show…total bs, who’se kidding who here…bona fide rodeo pros don’t have time to hang out all night, become inebriated, drunk on their behinds and rodeo the next day…ain’t gonna happen. Have known more than one pro, shall I drop names? And this is the LAST dam THING you’d catch them doing….the wanna be’s and the rodeo dance romance crowd are the ones doing this…Don’t present this as the “real deal” as it is NOT…..Harvey Weinstein, the producer,must think we’re all deaf, dumb and blind and wouldn’t know “up from down” when it comes to rodeo….give us a dam break, would you!!!!!!!!! Shame on the lot of you who foisted this off on those who’ll buy this…a travesty!!!!!!!!

  • Lisa M. Cisneros-Kreul

    I am so pissed that I stayed up until 10 to watch this shit. I was under the impression that we would see more barrel racing then stupid girls getting drunk and whoring. It is not worth my time. I love horses. So get some real cowgirls and lets see some barrel racing.

    • Harry Johnson

      Your into beastiality that’s gross!!

  • Cindy

    I enjoyed the show. My gosh, no one would seriously sit down to watch this thinking you were going to see an hour of women barrel racing nor would we expect to watch Duck Dynasty and see a whole hour of how to make a duck call. Come on people, really!!

  • Ann Engstrom

    this show is a bunch of crap…let’s take everything wholesome women do and turn it to slutville….uck I don’t recall seeing any of these idiots at the NFR…I made it through about 5 minutes and went out to pitch shit

  • chemdog

    I total agree. I was in the cicuit for years I even ride with riders like the late Chris Ledoux and had a lot of female friends that were barrel racers (yes im old school) but neverr saw the crap I saw on this show. I have a young girl that’s into horses and barrel racing but because of this crazy show I had to explain that the real word of rodeo is not glamour and glits. in short I hated it.

  • Sidney Norton

    Damn calm down! It is a show they have to make it interesting to a bigger population than just barrel racers! I will say there’s some immaturity on the show n no it’s not exact for every barrel racers life but hell no ones life is exact to someone else’s n as for whoring around? So far into the show I’ve seen none?? N hanging out n going on dates? Yes some women in pro rodeos do! EVEN ones that made it to the NFR!! Hell ones dating another guy that also made it to the NFR! So just because it’s not your life doesn’t mean rodeo girls don’t live like that and still do damn good!!

    • Lisa M. Cisneros-Kreul

      really that’s what your interested in. Watch some Nat Geo.

  • luckystar777

    I like the show and am a former rodeo gal myself 🙂

  • Conn

    Being someone who rodeos from March till October I feel obligated to say that I have refused to watch the show after seeing the impurity of the cover. I know in my heart what true rodeo girls are and their morals, and from the sounds of it, it’s not what these girls are portraying. There’s a saying that says “when all the other little girls wanted to be ballet dancers, i wanted to be a cowgirl.” I believe that the one little girl who wanted to be the cowgirl wasn’t thinking of running barrels in a swim suit, but to be tough, rough around the edges, kind hearted, true to herself, and above all, modest in her own ways. What I tell myself from the time I warm my horse up at a rodeo to the time I pull out is that somewhere in that crowd is that little girl who wants to be you when she grows up, so be what you want people to remember you by! Those of you who disagree with this show don’t have to watch it, and if you really are against what these impure and immodest “rodeo girls” are demonstrating, then turn it off and be the cowgirl that you know is true and real. The best thing we can do is to wake up everyday and remember what it is we want to be remembered for.

  • Msz2014

    It’s a marketing move by Darcy to create a career, she’s a producer…duh. Plus they take pictures from from one town and put it in another. For example, they took the Cody WY Field of Honor and put it in the Red Bluff episodes. It won’t last.

  • Cowboy1414

    As a pro rodeo cowboy for most of my life, I have to say this is the trashiest show about rodeo I have ever seen. It looks to me like most of the can chasing scenes are done during slack, or when the arena is empty. I think my IQ went down just watching that show. This is NOT in any way a accurate view of rodeo life. It is just a way for some hollywood asshat to make money and fill the tv with more junk. As soon as I saw Ryan Seacrest’s name I knew it was a load of crap.

  • Oregon girl

    Darcy is not being up front about her life. She was married after Mark Hughes for a LONG time to Brian Snodgrass. and She was also married briefly to someone before Ron Rice BTW…. so that make FIVE marriages.

  • Oregon girl

    Darcy portrays herself as this poor sad widow when the reality is she is a golddigger who has gotten all of her money from husbands that has been her career.

  • meandyou

    Darcy Has Been Married 5 Times. Most Recent Is Brian Snodgrass, For 11 Years. She Dated Many Times After Mark Hughes Died. She’s Not At Home With The Kids Because Nannies Have Raised The Kids Sense They Were Born.

    • meandyou

      Stripper With A Corvette When She Was 18.
      Ron Rice. “Hawaiian Tropics Owner”.
      Jc Van Dam.
      Mark Hughes “Herbal Life Founder”.
      Brian Snodgrass. “Biggest Thief And Lier Around. Many Lawsuits Against Him. Millions Of Dollars Worth.”
      Was Seeing A Guy Named Todd Soon After Marks Death, And Then Moved To Oregon With Him After Her Fight With Herbal Life Trying To Get All The Money She Could. Settled For 35 Million And Told To Leave Town. 🙂

  • momma of a queen

    My daughter was a rodeo queen not much h different than these girls . I would like to see what these girls do with their horses after hours my daughter has not got her parade horse 350 pounds under weigh with sores on her really the pretty girls on the pretty horses is just to show look behind the scenes

  • Amanda Sosa

    I have daughter that rodeo and barrel race. I would like to share that I have watched the show with my oldest that is (thank God my 8 year old daughter did not watch) After watching we talked about how in everything we do we support each other and watch how we talk to others. I do not support the negative talk and degrading each other. So in saying that I do not agree with the way they depict rodeo but bad mouthing will do nothing. We should embrace this and let them have their little show and use it as an example of how not to teach our daughter to act.

  • Susan

    Hilarious! Everybody knows theres money is to be made during the 4th of July run. Certainly not a time to wrap it up to give yourself a freaking party. This is so fake and a dishonor for all those rodeo families who go broke driving their kids to the junior and high school rodeos. A dishonor to those such as Mary Walker and Latte. A dishonor to my little neighbor girl Morgan who works hard all year round to be competitive and whom, I might add would blow the socks off these chicks. I’ve lost brain cells watching one episode. No value or substance nor dignity or integrity.

  • Foxybrown

    Does anyone notice the swastika Megan is wearing? I’m confused!!! Why is she wearing a nazi swastika?!?!?!

    • DigDigDigDig

      screencap or it didn’t happen

      • Foxybrown

        The necklace she is wearing here in pic 6 is the one I’m talking about. Even if you zoom in you can’t really tell but she is wearing it in an episode that brought me to this site. Go to her personal blog and look at those pics. So weird!!!!

      • Foxybrown

        Google her name and images and check out the necklace she is always wearing. Here in this article in pic 6 she is wearing the necklace but they blurred it so you can’t really see if you zoom. She has said she is very religious and believes in God so I’m wondering what the heck the necklace means to her because she sure wants us to see it and no one talks about it. Arrrgg!

      • Guest

        Look at her necklace

      • Foxybrown

        Look at her necklace.. It looks like a swastika to me.

  • Yes it is fake

    I stayed at Rimrock Ranch, Cody, last summer. Those “wild” horses they “wrangled” in Cody episode are the ranch’s trail horses. Not so wild! If you look close, you can see their brand on some of them. They run up the driveway willingly, because they expect a meal.

    There ain’t a dude ranch in this country that rounds up wild horses. Idiots!

  • Central Coast California

    Totally fake. Never been to a national rodeo (have been roping, competing and showing for 20 years)
    where the barrel racers wore no hat and a tank top, and the stands were empty?

  • Misti Fied

    “RODIE-HOES” would be a better name for the show.

  • Guest

    It is fake! The times don’t match up if you look at results of rodeo times they went too. The Cody rodeo was filmed at horse hotel! Here is an article from the Cody Newspaper…By ACADIA DeATLEY | Updated 6 months ago

    National television network A&E, home of “Duck Dynasty,” was filming in Cody recently for an episode of its new series “Rodeo Girls.”

    Using both extras and local barrel racers, the crew filmed Sunday at the Stage Stop Horse Hotel on the Greybull Highway.

    The crew and pro rodeo barrel racers had stayed at the hotel since June 12, according to hotel owner Paul Vail.

    “Darcy LaPier and Barbra West are two of the girls who stayed with us,” Vail said. “Marvel Murphy is another. There is a producer for each girl and they are pretty nice.”

    Not only are the girls staying in Cody, some also have been competing.

    “Barbra won the barrel race at the Cody Nite Rodeo,” Vail added. “She’s a down-to-earth girl.”

    When asked about why A&E chose to stay at the Stage Stop Horse Hotel, Vail didn’t seem too surprised.

    “They chose our inn because I’m the only one who has covered stalls,” he said. “They have some expensive horses that need pampering. We also have a roping arena, cabins and all the plug-ins for the RVs.”

    The show will “offer a glimpse into the lavish and glamorous world of the women of the pro rodeo circuit,” according to A&E.

    “Rodeo Girls” plans to have eight one-hour episodes, but it’s not yet known when they will air.

    “As they travel around the country competing in their sport, these women are fueled by motivation to win, bringing their colorful attitudes with them,” A&E officials said.

    The crew also filmed at Rimrock Ranch on the North Fork.

    “They filmed there because they liked the background of the red rock,” Vail said. “The girls really seemed to like it here.”

  • audrey

    During one of the episodes, Darci and Marvel participated in the wild cowgirl race. It was emphasised that this was a free for all race and we even go to know that it was best not to wear lose fitting clothes because the cowgirls would grab at anything. Notwithstanding Darci wore two huge dangling cross earrings and obviously the usual full makeup…I find this a bit staged

  • Robert Moore

    You people have no clue, there is one reason and only one reason to watch the show for the pretty girls…the show is for ENTERTAINMENT ONLY!!!!!

  • Oregon girl

    She is divorced from Brian Snodgrass, but the show and Darcy is portraying it like she is the poor sad widow…… Its BS she goes from man to man that is her profession. SHe is sooooooo nasty

  • cgraham

    I am so disappointed with this show. I have a daughter that dreams to be a pro barrel racer, she was so excited to hear that there was going to be a show about girls rodeo life, but I can’t let her watch this crap. REally what is the world coming too? Can we not show REAL RODEO GIRLS and the true meaning of the sport. How about showing the REAL side of it all, the hard work and time that goes into it. If these girls spent 1/4 of their time working and training, they would not have time for all that drama and maybe they could actually do something with their so called rodeo careers. I for one am not letting my daughter watch this crap and have her images of barrel racers destroyed.

  • J

    She was not NPRA Rookie of the year in 2004….

    • J

      Darcy that is..

  • txbrlrcr

    Has anyone who runs barrels ever had a wrangler?? The barrels racer is supposed to be a wrangler not have a wrangler!

  • jazzdrums

    like Dance Moms it is a reality show but there is no doubt a lot of editing takes place but the girls on Dance Moms have true talent and can dance. The Rodeo girls may not be true to the real life style but you can see they can ride horses. On motorcycle building shows those guys build the bike. 5 weeks are compressed into 1 hour…then there is true crap like Toddlers and Tiaras, Sister Wives, and some others that offer nothing. oh and Honey Boo Boo…viewers are laughing at them

  • Lisa Bedell

    Dumbest show on TV. Period.

  • dmjetblast

    Just putting it out there. At the time of filming, Darcy was indeed married. Didn’t divorce until after they were done filming. There are so many things about his show that are untrue, but keep in mind it’s from the same production people as “The Hills” and “Kardashians” and Darcy is also a producer. I am bummed that they are dragging barrel racing into their Jersey Shore -meets- Real Housewives show but I think they have exploited almost every other profession so I guess we’re about due.

  • Sammy

    As just a dumb country boy, I would like to say “I like it :)”.
    “Throw her in three times and only pull that b(*^* up twice”.
    Try not to take it so serious folks……..its just TV.

  • mgr

    Another show that makes women look like strippers and prostitutes! Can Darcy be anymore in love with herself? Or have anymore plastic surgery????? and who barrel races in bikinis? Please take this show off the air! Disgrace to real rodeo women everywhere!!!!!!

  • Barrelracingmom

    As a mom of a young 9 year old barrel racer a don’t like what this show has to offer. I want my daughter to grow up with self respect, and to understand that if she wants to go pro it’s about the hard work and training. I feel this show makes barrel racing look to easy. You never see the girls training or working with their horses they just jump on and ride.

  • Maddie

    I think they should continue rodeo girls. I love that show it’s a fun down to earth show. People can say it’s fake but I actually know Darcy and I’m 100% positive it’s a real show. Just because girls don’t have there a** and b**** hanging out doesn’t make it fake

  • tru-cowgrl

    This show came into discussion a couple days ago with some friends…it’s damn near insulting that they portray rodeo girls like little hookers but it’s also funny that when they went to Cody Wyoming and got their asses whooped by a young teenage girl, they tried to tell the world that they won…what a joke. They weren’t even liked around town how they acted…these people are definitely definitely not welcome back in Cowboy Country acting like that!

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