Gold Buckle Champion, founded in 2011 by Sue Marostica, Corey Fagan, Dan Hansen and Sandra Figge, aims to preserve Western heritage and history through various community and youth-engaging events. It focuses on promoting equine health and safety education, and its activities span from traditional equine competitions to art and community projects. Their mission is rooted in upholding the values and hardships of those who pioneered the West. Additionally, we organize the "Legends in the Making" program, fostering community involvement and leadership among the youth.

Gold Buckle Champion
Sue Marostica
Lisa Bower
Stephanie Gornichec

(Mailing Address)
Gold Buckle Champions
PO Box 70
Kuna, Idaho 83634

E: [email protected]

Sue Marostica

Executive Director

Email: [email protected]
Phone: (208) 890-9774

Sue Marostica is a native to Idaho, whose family has been involved in ranching and logging in Idaho for five generations. She and her husband Vic, have raised two daughters and two nieces that have held numerous queen titles in the Treasure Valley and was instrumental in developing the original Snake River Stampeder’s performing at the NFR in Las Vegas and the Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, Utah.
Lisa Bower - Project Manager
Lisa Bower

Project Manager

Lisa Bower, an Idaho native, currently utilizes her talents between managing support services in the food industry, volunteering for non-profit organizations and promoting her right brain activities with her art. With years of experience in analysis, planning and executing new services with Fortune 100 companies, Lisa’s experience traverses multiple levels of expertise.
Stephanie Gornichec

Project Manager


Stephanie Gornichec, an Idaho native, currently utilizes her talents from managing corporate clients to helping with projects for our youth and community.

Our Mission

Gold Buckle Champions to further the education of equine health and safety while preserving our western heritage and history by means of promoting events incorporating the youth and community.

Demanding excellence within ourselves while helping to ensure the longevity of our western heritage through educational clinics and community projects. Encouraging everyone to find the champion within themselves.  

By our actions, we wish to demonstrate the legendary proceedings of the men and women, unafraid of hard work, who founded the west, and the lifestyle that gave them the courage it took to endure its hardships and lead them to a better life.

Our History

When American cowboys of the 1800’s ran cattle together on open ranges, they gathered each year to separate their herds from their neighbors. This is what we call “Cutting”. Naturally, when you bring a group of people working together it turns into a competition, and equine competitions are some of the best. The Cutting and Rodeo heritages run strong and deep, and have for centuries. In the 1800’s they were also a grand social events, some say the original networking events, and nothing much from that has changed today. The ranchers gathered, there was a competition and the families shared their stories and wares from the last gathering. They revealed crafts, sold wares, exchanged recipes, but most of all, they shared laughter and ideas. They worked side by side to teach and guide their children and developed a strong community. From this we have seen many “Legends” in the equine industries that give us inspiration to keep these events going.

With technology and advancement we no longer run herds together, and most of the gathering and sorting is done with pickup trucks and squeeze chutes, but the social heart of where these events began, lives on in all of the people involved, and it is so strong that it will live on for many more generations to come.

This is the goal and inspiration for Gold Buckle Champions, every year with our events.

Art of Building A Community

Western heritage preservation and the arts are intrinsically linked, as both strive to celebrate and maintain the cultural legacy of the American West. The arts play a pivotal role in this preservation by providing a medium through which the West's stories, traditions, and historical experiences are conveyed and kept alive. The unique aspects of Western heritage are captured and shared through various forms of artistic expression, such as painting, sculpture, music, literature, and theater. These artistic endeavors serve to educate and entertain and act as a repository for the collective memory and identity of the region. They offer a window into the past, portraying the challenges, triumphs, and everyday life of those who shaped the Western frontier. Furthermore, integrating indigenous and multicultural influences in these art forms highlights the diverse tapestry of the West's history. By supporting and engaging with the arts, communities preserve their Western heritage, ensuring its rich and varied legacy is passed down to future generations, fostering a deeper understanding and appreciation of this unique cultural heritage.

Fundamentals of Art

Idaho ranks relatively low in terms of education compared to other states in the United States. According to the Kids Count data released by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, Idaho was ranked 39th in the nation for education in 2023. This ranking indicates that Idaho falls in this category's bottom 25 percent of states. This is a slight improvement from the previous year when Idaho was ranked 40th in the nation for education. The evaluation for this ranking included various factors such as the number of children ages 3-4 not in school, proficiency in reading and math, and the number of students not graduating on time​. Idaho Ed News

Scholaroo, which conducts analyses of public school systems across the U.S., also provides a comprehensive overview of state education rankings. They consider multiple factors, such as student success, school quality, and student safety. However, the available information did not provide specific details about Idaho's ranking in this broader context.

These findings suggest that while Idaho is making some progress in education, there is still considerable room for improvement to climb higher in the national rankings.

Read more about our projects at Western Heritage Art

Art of Community

Stampede Days Horses

In the 1800’s every large ranch held a rodeo or a cutting and invited the entire community out to be involved. This was the “Art of Building a Community”. This was the original community networking celebration where everyone shared their wares, stories, and laughter, which we will experience in full force in July, downtown Nampa.

All the businesses and individuals of Nampa are encouraged to show their support by displaying a decorated horse to show the strength of our community. These are not just limited to business and everyone is encouraged to participate. Gold Buckle Champion can custom decorate these horses for each business or individual for a donation to our “Legends in the Making” program, which rewards our youth and charities for doing positive things in our community.

This project is offered to school age kids to decorate to win cash prizes for their classroom or group. Judging for the kids’ horses is voted on by the community and four teachers/groups in our area will win cash prizes for classroom, or trips to national competitions for teams, or cash prizes to other registered nonprofits.

The FREE youth events during the Stampede Festival, in July, are funded in part by the sale of these horses. There will be prizes for participation in many events from our western heritage and a “Sucker Horse” and a Dummy Roping Contest for amazing prizes.

Many of the horses are decorated by our communities youth and individuals, and some are decorated by professional artists dedicated to mentoring our youth. You can view and purchase these on our website at:

To purchase your horse, please contact [email protected] or visit the website links above.

Read more about our projects at

We imagine the champion in you

The Art of Agriculture

Growing Our Youth Through Growing Food

The importance of encouraging our children in outdoor work with living plants is now recognized. It benefits the health, broadens the education, and gives a valuable training in industry and thrift. The great garden movement is sweeping over all America, and our present problem is to direct it and make it most profitable to the children in our schools and homes.

— Van Evrie Kilpatrick, 1918, in The Child’s Food Garden, With a Few Suggestions for Flower Culture

For every aspect of our lives, we need agriculture; food, clothing, shelter, and medicine. Farming and ranching are not for the faint at heart. You battle not only the elements but endure long days of hard work. It feeds not only our bellies but our souls.

Quantitative studies of growing our youth through growing food studies showed positive outcomes of school gardening initiatives in the areas of science achievement and food behavior, but they did not demonstrate that children’s environmental attitude or social behavior consistently improve with gardening. Validity and reliability issues reduced general confidence in these results. Qualitative studies documented a wider scope of desirable outcomes, including an array of positive social and environmental behaviors.

It is our belief that teaching children agriculture “grounds” them literally and figuratively. The effects of learning to grow foods have many positive effects on our children in their physical and mental health.
students learn focus and patience, cooperation, teamwork and social skills
They gain self-confidence and a sense of “capableness” along with new skills and knowledge in food growing — soon-to-be-vital for the 21st-century garden-based teaching addresses different learning styles and bits of intelligence; our non-readers can blossom in the garden!
Achievement scores improve because learning is more relevant and hands-on
Students become more fit and healthy as they spend more time active in the outdoors and start choosing healthy foods over junk
The schoolyard is diversified and beautified graffiti and vandalism decrease because students respect what they feel some ownership in.

Information alone can never become knowledge, and knowledge never becomes wisdom without some kind of rooting in the good soil of experience.”

                            — James Raffan           Speaker – Author- Adventurer

Legends in the Making

Our signature event, Gold Buckle Champion’s – “Legends in the Making” challenges individuals of school age, ( 6-21) to make a difference in their community and to keep the spirit that made our forefathers and their legendary actions alive.

"Legends in the Making" is a community-focused initiative designed to recognize and reward children who consistently exhibit positive, impactful behaviors in their communities. By acknowledging their efforts, we aim to foster a culture of proactive citizenship, kindness, and responsibility among the younger generation.

The initiative's core lies in its preventive approach. By engaging children in positive activities and recognizing their contributions, we aim to instill values and behaviors that reduce the likelihood of negative actions in the future and encourage others to follow in their footsteps. This proactive approach is more effective and sustainable compared to intervention methods, which often address issues only after they have manifested.

Historically children have received benefits from this event that has paid for classroom makeovers, educational field trips, various competitions,  projects for the betterment of their community, and scholarships. 


Legends in the Making Application

Gabreille Sanborn Memorial Scholarships

Gabrielle was just 20 years old when she left this earth for another journey, but not before she had graced this planet with her layers of talent. She had accomplished in her lifetime gifts that will linger with those who knew and loved her without end. She was an amazing artist, with both life and music, playing 5 instruments. Her free spirit showed through with the way she could pull together eccentric fashion and decorating rooms with her own funky eclectic style. She was someone who instantly made you feel comfortable just being with her and most importantly just being yourself. These are all qualities instilled within that come from living on the land and being involved with horses. Gabrielle was introduced to Cutting by her grandmother Gina Macdonald. Gina has been a longtime board member and contestant with the ICHA and has been involved with horses most of her life.

Gina, like so many of us parents/grandparents, find themselves devoted to finding something to keep our children/grandchildren grounded. Something to teach them responsibility for their actions and self worth, something to teach them to be happy being themselves; because, being yourself is all you need to know to get you through life. Gina knew same as all of us who have grown up with horses and agriculture, being connected with the earth is what keeps you grounded and helps you discover who you really are, and there is no faster way of doing this than being involved with horses. Knowing who you are is what gives you direction in your life and the spirit of the horse is often your guide.

Gabbe found the magic in horses, a love she shared with her grandmother. Horses mirror the inner you, and teach you things about yourself that you would not learn otherwise. The trust they show you is exactly how much trust you have given them and often how much trust you have in yourself. They read your inner thoughts and know when you are scared, sad, excited, and nervous and will react accordingly. For many of us the spirit of the horse and what they offer to our inner souls is a mystery. It is an unexpected gift that gives us peace that we didn’t even know we were in need of. What we do with this gift once we find it is pertinent to everything that comes after.

Each March we choose to honor Gabbe and the spirit of the horse that gifted her with peace and left her family with gentle memories that will linger in their hearts for a lifetime. Join us in this celebration during the ICHA Weekend Show.

Gabbe was also very artistic and we choose to honor here with all of our scholarships.

Our Goals

Our Vision
5 Year Goals
By our actions, we wish to demonstrate the legendary proceedings of the men and women, unafraid of hard work, who founded the west, and the lifestyle that gave them the courage it took to endure its hardships and lead them to a better life.

Our signature event, Gold Buckle Champion’s – “Legends in the Making” – challenges individuals of school age ( 6-21) to make a difference in their community and to keep the spirit that made our forefathers and their legendary actions alive.

From art to music, cultural beliefs and customs, the generations have changed rapidly. Our forefather’s generations were more independent. They had to be since it was their responsibility to make something good out of themselves. They were not spoon fed. They had to think and do for themselves. In that time period you either took care of what needed to be done or went without… worse case scenario… died from starvation or exposure.

We feel part of our decline is due to the virtual society that we live in and teaching is concentrated on the left brain hemisphere. The right brain is creativity, but it is also recall and problem-solving. Teaching to create something that children can put their name to instills pride in accomplishment. Teaching that everyone can make a difference is our direction. You are directly responsible for your success and the success of your community.

The newer generations are not taught to be responsible for their actions or their successes, as with “no child left behind”. They feel like they are authorized on everything and can easily give up from doing something that requires some extra effort or concentration, but still feel they should be able to reap the rewards. They have been primed to always expect things to be done for them and it is truly affecting us on how we go about in our day-to-day activities. Our young people are growing into adults without problem-solving skills. Where will we be when no one has these skills left to pass on?

Aesop’s Fable from 600 BC, The Ant and the Grasshopper, seems as appropriate today as it was then. Life is not always about living for pleasures, you must work for what you need, and you cannot expect that someone else will do the work for you. We strive to teach that we are never too old or too young to accomplish anything we desire, what really matters is if you are willing to pay the price of your goal.
The horse is a valuable tool in pouring a foundation for raising our youth. Kids who are raised in the agriculture and equine sectors are seldom in trouble, they’re grounded, have a sense of self-worth, and rely on their experiences to make a difference in their community. Our 5 year goal is to develop a greenhouse with an area for charity events, art classes, and cooking classes.

Our plans are to incorporate an equine facility to take in retired performance horses to use for other charities like Ride for Joy, Horses for Heroes, and for children with developmental problems.
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