Explore Sheridan

Imagine for a moment the stresses associated with being one of the youngest mineral executives in the nation. The long hours, the late nights, the ceaseless politicking, the endless cross-country travel, meeting after meeting after meeting. Imagine being named one of Forbes’ 30-under-30 as you’re moving your business from one state to another. Imagine being a woman in a historically male-dominated field. Many folks would whither under the spotlight and intense scrutiny. Some would seek to decompress in their limited down time with a low-stakes extracurricular activity. Running, maybe. Skiing, possibly. Sheridan’s Whitney Wickes has done both and has found plenty of success as a triathlete and professional skier. But for as long as she can remember, Whitney’s true passion has been horses. Whitney unwinds, if you can call it that, by competing in the high-stakes, high-stress world of equestrian show jumping – all while managing a growing business empire.

Oil and gas is a demanding business. Success in the equestrian world is often fleeting – and difficult to capture, if you can capture it at all. But if you spend any time at all with Whitney you quickly come to understand that she’s inexorably linked to both, and that she’s driven by an entrepreneurial spirit that hardens under pressure. Whitney and business partner Chris Beato set up Flat River Minerals in Sheridan in 2019, while Whitney quickly engrained herself in the community’s iconic equestrian community. Rocking WW is now one component of a business that includes interests in Wyoming, West Virginia, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Oklahoma, and Texas, while Whitney, who has trained with Charlie and Hilary Carrel of Colts Unlimited since her arrival into town, recently won the $10,000 1.35 meter junior/amateur jumper grand prix class at the U.S. Hunter Jumper Association (USHJA) National Championships in Las Vegas.

“After college, I realized I could continue being good at a lot of things or focus two I could be great at,” Whitney writes. “Over the past 10 years, I’ve made the energy industry and horses my sole focuses, with my career always coming first. I couldn’t afford the horses without the career, and I wouldn’t be able to work as hard and get through the tough days and long travel weeks without looking forward to the horses. I’m far from reaching my aspirations in both areas, but I know that if I stay focused on work the horses will come. Kind of like they say focus on what you love and money will follow… my version is focus on what you love (the energy business) and the horses will follow.”

It makes perfect sense that Whitney would be attracted to Sheridan County – the community boasts world-class equestrian training facilities, a supportive community of riders, history and heritage that run a century deep, and the idyllic backdrop of the Bighorn Mountains. Whitney’s riding exploits have generated wins, garnered accolades, and brought plenty of attention to showjumping in the American West, while her business successes – and the fact that the company that she and Chris have built over these last five years now employs 23 of professionals right here in Sheridan County – have made the entire community proud.

“After growing up in a small town and then spending over a decade on the rapidly growing Front Range near Denver through college and the start of my career, I knew city life was not meant for me,” Whitney writes. “I always felt different – I didn’t like or appreciate the amenities city life had to offer. The trade-off between traffic, people, and stress to gain more restaurants, entertainment, and shopping didn’t and still doesn’t make sense to me.  What made sense to me and what I knew was that I had to pay my dues and do what I needed to do to launch the career I wanted to have, which could only be done in a city. When I had the opportunity to spend time in rural Wyoming after we took over the Washakie Basin assets from Linn Energy in 2017, I was immediately drawn to the state and culture. It just felt good – I felt at ease, something that was rare for me at that time, trying to keep up with the pace of city life in Denver. It was at that point that I decided I was going to find a way to move to the Cowboy State. That opportunity finally came when Chris and I were starting up Rocking WW Minerals – we had a blank slate and a new start if we wanted it. Also, an avid outdoorsman, Chris was ready to leave the city and we elected to move to Sheridan and start from scratch.

“For me, Sheridan checked all the boxes. A small town surrounded by beauty whose culture wasn’t dominated by tourists like my childhood in Aspen. A place where cowboy boots weren’t just a fashion statement but where Western culture still thrived. A place where people were authentic and there was a sense of community. A place where rolling green grasslands met up with the mountains. A place where strangers still acknowledge you while passing on the sidewalk. A place where time slows down and gives you room to breathe and room to think. A place where I could pursue my horse passion and equestrian career without driving an hour both ways to the barn on a major highway. A place where getting outdoors to hike, fish, or hunt wasn’t just something you did on the weekend. And a place where I could attract employees/team members who valued similar things in life – working hard towards a successful career in oil and gas while maintaining quality of life and access to the outdoors. We knew headquartering in Sheridan would become a natural filter to find the right team members we want to grow our company with – those who view moving to Sheridan as a “sacrifice” aren’t the right fit. Those who can’t believe they have the opportunity to pursue a career in oil and gas with a growing company AND get to move to Wyoming?! Those are the right ones.

“Sheridan is the only place I’ve ever found that truly feels like home. I’m so proud to say I’m a Wyomingite, and even prouder to say I live in Sheridan. I don’t know where my oil and gas career will take me over the next 30 years, but one thing I do know is that I always want Sheridan to be my home base and I always want it to be company headquarters. My driving goal in life has always been to have a horse ranch where rolling green pastures met mountains; I always imagined what this place looked like but didn’t know where it was until I moved to Sheridan, and then it all made sense. I’m still far from being able to achieve that goal, but one thing I know for sure is that dream is here in Sheridan!”

For these reasons and more, businesswoman and equestrian champion Whitney Wickes is one of our Women of Sheridan, Wyo. for 2024.

For more on Rocking WW Minerals and Whitney’s other business ventures, visit flatriverminerals.com

For more on Colts Unlimited and how you can become involved in the world of training and development of show jumpers right here in Sheridan County, visit coltsunlimited.com

Photo credits: Charlie and Hilary Carrel; Whitney Wickes; Candids with Cait Photography.

Click here for our short film on Whitney Wickes.

Produced by Salvatore Brown & Shawn Parker. Directed by Salvatore Brown. Cinematography by Salvatore Brown, Michael Ormiston, Lance Roth, & Stephen Tucker.  Editing by Salvatore Brown & Lance Roth.

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