Trick Rider Extraordinaire: Noemy Coeurjoly

Coeurjoly’s specialty is Roman Riding, demonstrated here. Photo Credit: Birtz Photography

Noemy Coeurjoly appears fearless as she races around Quebec’s major rodeo, Festival Western de St-Tite for the opening act. Standing atop a paint horse, carrying the flag of the rodeo, sparks erupting from the top of the pole. You wouldn’t know from her appearance that this was her first season performing alone on the rodeo road, or that being a part of St-Tite has been one of her biggest dreams since she was a young girl. Western Horse Review sits down with Noemy Coeurjoly to talk trick riding, the skill of roman riding, and how a young girl from Quebec ended up in Nanton, AB, and is taking the world of speciality acts by storm.

How did you get started in trick riding?

It began with Sally Bishop, one of Canada’s top trick riding and stunt performers. Sally was in Quebec performing at the St-Tite Rodeo, we had a mutual friend that introduced us. I didn’t speak any English at the time. My goal when I was younger was always to learn English. The mutual friend translated for us and that’s how it all started. A few months later I had contacted her and she messaged me back telling me I could come out and help her on the road with the four horses she was using at performances at the time. So two days after my prom, my dad bought me a plane ticket and I met her in Cody, Wyoming. That was only the second time I had ever met Sally, she had that big of a heart that she told me to come on and we’d try to make it work and she would teach me

When did you start performing?

I have been doing roman riding and practicing with Sally for four year now but I didn’t start performing by myself, at rodeos and in front of crowds, until this last year. I live with Sally at her home in Nanton, so when I left Alberta for the first time and starting doing rodeos by myself it was stressful. I went to Quebec because I knew there was no specialty acts or trick riders performing. When I left Alberta I had one rodeo booked, I knew that if I got myself down there with my horses, I would probably end up booking more performances but I had to take that chance. After that first rodeo I was able to book performances at almost every weekend from there on.

It was definitely stressful at first, it was hard without my coach there but it went well, we just kept going to rodeos from June to September, and then I ended up getting to perform at St-Tite.

 

Noemy Coeurjoly performs during the opening act of St-Tite rodeo. Photo Credit: Birtz Photography
Tell me about St-Tite, it must be a significant rodeo for you having grown up in Quebec?

Performing at St. Tite was one of my big dreams. I told myself that I would do anything just to be a part of the show. This year I was a part of the opening, there was pyro and fires, and it was crazy, but it went very well.

Walk me through one of your performances?

In roman riding, I perform with two horses, so I have one foot on each of my horses. I generally start off by running two full laps at the lope on my horses. Then I do pole bending, I show the crowd my horses aren’t tied together. I do a fancy footwork pattern and jump my horses together. During the opening I also do a hippodrome where I am standing on one horse’s back carrying the Canadian flag.

What attracted me to roman riding was the adrenaline, it keeps you going. Sometimes it’s scary, you have to push yourself. The jump was the hardest thing to learn when I first started. I actually learned to jump with four horses and so when I started jumping two my balance just wasn’t the same. I also struggled a bit with the back-up when I started out, but now both maneuvers are a normal part of my performances!


What are you looking forward to next year?

I have in my head to build a fire jump and a pole with torches on top of it for next year. I am going to change a little bit of my fancy footwork and make my patterns faster. I also have another horse I am going to start using for my openings, which will be her first year doing rodeos.

What is your best advice for someone wanting to get into trick riding?

Even if you are scared you have to try it, and go for it. You have to get out of your comfort zone to be good at what you do. My advice for kids that are starting out in trick riding would be to follow your dreams, never stop, it’s possible, you just have to make it happen.


What’s the best advice someone has ever given you?

I don’t have an exact piece of advice but Sally would always push me harder than I thought I was able too. Sometimes I would be in my head about a trick, thinking I can’t do it, but Sally would make me, she would make me practice so I could get better and stronger so I could perform better.

You can follow Noemy’s adventures on her Facebook page – Noemy Coeurjoly – Roman Riding

Young Guns – Madison MacDonald

In the May/June issue of Western Horse Review, we searched out some of the most accomplished and influential youth in the western horse industry and compiled our first-ever Young Guns – Top 25 Youth Under 25. We came up with six categories: Ambassadors, Artisans, Entertainers, Competitive, Entrepreneurs and Science. From self-discipline to unwavering focus, we were reminded that the dreams often fostered in young minds and hearts can translate to adulthood, and that good old fashioned determination can still achieve what many think is impossible. We loved the true western code of ethic each of our top 25 exude.

It evolved into such an inspiring piece we decided to recreate it online, with the fuller interviews and stories of each of our deserving Top 25. Look for them here at Screen Doors & Saddles over the next six months, as I'll reveal one every week or so!

A free spirit who has had the honour of working with some of the best equine entertainers in the world, Madison isn't slowing down anytime soon.

Madison MacDonald

(Nominated for Entertainers)
Age:20
Stephenville, Texas

So how does a girl from the small town of Okotoks, Alberta end up being chosen as a Wrangler National Finals Rodeo Contract Act in 2011 and 2012 while studying at Tarleton University? Not many can answer that, but Madison MacDonald sure can.

“My mother used to produce the Black Tie Wild West Shows for the Calgary Stampede. When I saw the trick riders, I told my parents that that was what I wanted to do,” remembers MacDonald.

Starting at the tender age of 4, MacDonald was competing in dance and unknowingly preparing herself for an exceptional career doing what she loves.

“Performing was something that I knew I wanted to do. I was fortunate enough to be able to follow my aspirations and never thought I would be where I am at the age of 20.”

As with everything worth having in life, the road to where she has gotten has been long and arduous, but he has had experiences and opportunities that people twice her age have not yet seen. She began riding with Ron Anderson and still credits his wisdom as the foundation that has helped her succeed atop a horse. At 11, she learned to twirl a trick rope in her own living room by legendary Tomas Garcilazos. Then in 2011 she found her greatest inspiration in Los Angeles.

“I would not be the trick rider I am today if it wasn't for Tad and Wendy Griffith. I have been extremely fortunate to be able to train under Tad who is referred to as the greatest gymnast on horseback. I lived with Tad and Wendy in Los Angeles where I trained under Tad for the National Finals Rodeo WNFR and then for Fort Worth where I trick rode with Tad's 3 boys. I never wanted the Fort Worth Stock and Rodeo to end. Each day felt like it was just another of practicing with Tad and his boys, as we came into that show of 3 months straight of practice and preparation, the show was the easy part compared to the rehearsals prior to. They are my “other” family.”

How do you start to list the credits of a young woman that has traveled the world doing what she loves? Her high school years were filled with rodeo; earning countless awards in pole bending, barrel racing, goat tying, breakaway roping and team roping.  In 2012, she was cast as part of the Calgary Stampede’s production Tails, which kept her busy for three performances daily over the ten days of Stampede. She has performed twice at the WNFR in Las Vegas and repeatedly performed at the Fiesta of the Spanish Horse.

For MacDonald, the horses are about more than the tricks and the bright lights. “The horses keep my life busy and full. They have been my life forever they are a part of me and it is something that I cherish everyday as I feel fortunate to be able to have the lifestyle that I do. Between training horses, practicing trick riding, roping and keeping my barrel horse going my days are full but I love every minute of it.

“I was like a lot of young girls – they see the costumes and the fast horses and it catches their eye. I see it now when I perform stateside, afterwards at the autograph signings we are surrounded by young girls that are enthralled by the performance and have the same dreams as I once had. It is inspiring to know that my performance has captivated them and lifted their spirits to encourage their aspirations.”

What better inspiration could there be?

~ Dainya Sapergia

Crazy Cowgirls Support Children’s Wish

The arrival of spring marks the start of what promises to be an exciting rodeo season for Cassie Horner and Shelby Cummings, who form the dynamic duo known as the Crazy Cowgirls. For the past three years, the Crazy Cowgirls have been travelling to rodeos throughout Alberta. More than just providing amazing trick riding performances, these young ladies have also been serving as ambassadors for Children’s Wish.

Since their partnership with Children’s Wish began, the Crazy Cowgirls have continuously found new ways to include their charity of choice in their performances. A Children’s Wish flag is always flown at the beginning of each performance and announcers share information about local children whose wish has been granted. The Alberta & NWT Chapter office is located in Calgary, AB with subchapters throughout the province but with a limited staff, the chapter relies on volunteers to help represent the foundation in rural communities. Stopping in any and all communities that host a rodeo, the Crazy Cowgirls are helping raise funds, and even more importantly, awareness for the Children’s Wish mission of granting the most heart felt of children diagnosed with a life threatening illness.

As part of their show, wherever possible, they invite local wish children to learn the basics of trick riding and perform a trick with them. This past summer, nine year old Phoenix, who had a liver transplant as a result of end-stage cirrhosis, got to ride with the girls in Brooks, AB.

To kick off their performing tour, Cassie and Shelby recently performed in Calgary for two shows as part of Aggie Days. While in town they met with Children’s Wish Chapter Director, Jason Evanson to present the donations collected over the last year, totaling $2,500. These young women are turning their passion for riding into a way of helping create the magic of a wish. Whenever the girls finish a show and are signing autographs at their trailer, a Children’s Wish donation box is sure to be close by.

About Children’s Wish

The Children’s Wish Foundation grants wishes to children between the ages of three and 17 who have been diagnosed with a life threatening illness. Since our inception 27 years ago, we have granted over 17,000 wishes to Canadian children. The AB & NWT Chapter grants approximately 120 wishes annually, roughly one wish every three days to a local child.  To learn more visit ChildrensWish.ca