By Marie Bradby

After a day of teaching ballroom dance — waltz and foxtrot, rumba and cha cha — professional dancer and teacher Lindsey Rutherford doesn’t just go home and relax at her farm in New Albany, Indiana. She rides her horses or her four-wheeler, or she boats or camps in her favorite spots in southern Indiana.

She also tends to the miniature animals on her farm — Half Pint Hooves farm — where she raises donkeys, cows, and horses for use in live nativity scenes and unicorn birthday parties. “I’m pretty much outdoors all the time, from sunup to sundown,” says Lindsey, 33, who grew up with ballroom dancing parents but also had a love for horses and the outdoors.

“I watched that movie My Friend Flicka all the time. It had a horse in it, and that’s all I cared about.”

Lindsey Rutherford goes from dancing to horse riding and has recently started roping cattle. 
She says we need to be willing to put ourselves out there and try new things. Photos by Melissa Donald

“I’m not into tent camping. I’m into camper camping. I want a bed, and I need a sink and a shower. We have a big group of friends, and we all camp together. We sit around the bonfire and drink and socialize. We try to relax and have a good time. I am surrounded with people who love to be outdoors.”

Lindsey is a modern-day cowgirl, and she’s even taking lessons to learn to rope cattle in hopes of showing her skills in a rodeo one day.

“I have an excellent teacher (Colt Becht of Becht Performance Horses), and I have a good time with that,” she says. “When I went to my first roping lessons, I was swinging the rope, and Colt didn’t know me well yet. He said, ‘Are you a good dancer?’ I said,’ Yeah, why?’ ‘Well, you have a lot of hip action for roping that cow. Can you tone that down a bit?’ ”

Roping cows is such a switch for a girl who danced from age 3 to 14, competing with her father, Dan Rutherford, owner of seven Fred Astaire Dance Studios in Kentucky, Indiana, and Illinois.

Her father and stepmother Nicole Carroll are U.S. and world champions in American Rhythm. “I was following in my dad’s and Nicole’s footsteps,” Lindsey says.

About seven years ago, she and her professional dancing partner, Jonah Schneider, were offered an audition with the TV show Dancing with the Stars. “We decided not to do it. We had a great career at home. We had built up our student base and didn’t want to leave all that. It takes a while to build clientele and get momentum going.”

In July, she headed out to the Bellagio in Las Vegas to compete with a student in the Fred Astaire World Championships. “We do American Smooth. I teach smooth, rhythm, latin, and standard — all four major styles.”

What advice does she have for women who want a more active lifestyle?

“Don’t be afraid to try things,” Lindsey says. “I see people who have wanted to be a dancer and they have been afraid to start, to even walk in the door. They have avoided it their whole life. Now they are 50, 60, 70 years old and say, ‘I don’t know why I waited so long.’

“People think we will be judging them or making fun of them. That’s not why we are here.

“You have to just get out there and do things, whatever you want. That’s the biggest thing in life — to enjoy yourself. You just don’t know what will happen. You might as well do it while you can.”