Archives for September 2013

Kylie Whiteside

Words of Wisdom

For some barrel racers, the choice to go pro can be a challenging decision. However, sometimes it really may be just a head game. Photo by Deanna Buschert


Recently I wrote a post on the sacrifices and challenges of going pro. I’m taking that a step further with these interviews with some of the elite barrel racers in the Canadian Pro Rodeo Association, wherein I’ve asked them what it honestly takes. Here is what they had to say:

Nancy Csabay, Canadian Finals Rodeo & Calgary Stampede Qualifier

“Do you ever really know you and your horse are ready to go pro? The answer for me was always – somedays, yes, somedays, no. Whether I am rodeoing amateur or pro, barrel racing, in general, is a head game. If my head was in the game, I did well. If I decided to just go to a handful of rodeos during the year, I had a hard time competing with the girls who went to three a weekend. But what did I expect? Could I really compete? Of course I wanted to be the one who could go to the minimum amount of rodeos and still make the Canadian Finals Rodeo. But in reality, that wasn’t going to happen for me. I needed to make several runs to get “with” my horse.

So, last year I said to my husband, Tony, I think I’m going to do my best to make the finals, but I can’t do it just going to a few rodeos. I have to commit and go to the majority of them, and thankfully it worked out. As I get older, I am realizing it isn’t about the outcome, the CFR, but about the journey. Don’t get me wrong, the CFR is great and am grateful I got to go, but in the end, do you know who has won the CFR 10 years ago? It is not as important to me as I let it be years ago. Barrel racing is something I love to do, it doesn’t define who I am.

Nancy Csabay and her horse Whicked, at the 2013 Calgary Stampede. Photo By Deanna Buschert


Money, money, money…if I can’t afford to do something, I don’t do it. Barrel racing is expensive as you already know that if you are going amateur. So I ask myself, can I afford to enter this rodeo? Can I afford the fuel to get there? If the answer is yes, I go. But if I am afraid the answer may be no, I stay home. That way there is no pressure for me or my horse to perform. The competition is incredible nowadays, so any added pressure will make my job harder. I think horses are running faster and girls are making less mistakes in their runs. The amateur associations are getting larger entries and are as tough as the pro’s. The difference is that in the amateurs, a barrel racer may be able to have a mistake in her run and still place near the bottom. In the pros, if a mistake is made, usually I am donating my money that day, in my opinion. Am I ready to donate my money? ”

Cranna Roberts and Mooney running for home at the 2013 Calgary Stampede. Photo by Deanna Buschert


Pro Rodeo Competitor Cranna Roberts, a Canadian Finals Rodeo and Calgary Stampede qualifier and owner/rider of “Mooney” Horse with the most Heart

“Driving time. There is a lot more drive distance between rodeos. Scheduling flexibility – there are many rodeos during week. The variables don’t really change from amateur to pro (ground set up etc.) it’s still a rodeo and it’s the pressure you put on yourself that is the actual change. It’s about being mentally tough and knowing you belong. Maintain focus on the variables that you can control. Like not getting caught up in who’s who or what there doing, stay focused on making it your race. Knowing that you are ready to go would be – believing in yourself, your horse and program. You won’t know until you try and it’s always good to challenge yourself. Don’t let fear or circumstances get in the way- you do have the permit and semi pro steps are inevitable to get your feet wet and give it a go. With a commitment like this, it is very important to have a support team to overcome obstacles that will inevitably come your way. And to cheer on success.”

I thank Nancy and Cranna for taking the time to write, and share with everybody openly on what it is like to compete at the level they are at. They each have great points of reality, as well as points for physical, and mental preparation. I have great respect for these ladies, and am grateful that I have been able to run with them both over the past several years.

Best of luck to everyone, and thank you for reading!

Stepping Right

Learning how to change a trailer tire, part of learning the ropes of rodeo!

I woke up Friday morning, and the stress hit me instantly. I had a couple rodeos over the weekend, and knew I would be on my own travelling. My husband and niece have been going to the amateur rodeos, and I have been headed the opposite direction to the pro rodeos. I then remembered, I had changed things up. I took a deep breath, and jumped out of bed with instant release, and a smile.

I was ready.

The week prior, I made a decision. I went down to a semi-professional card, therefore I have the opportunity to still travel with my husband, and also bring my niece along to teach her the ropes of rodeoing. Things are much more affordable!

I can honestly say, recently, running in the pros was stressful. It is very tough, way too many miles, and very expensive. I have been doing it for 10 years now, with the help and support from many people, and I am very grateful for it all. But I think I felt it was time to just take a step, and to start enjoying life, rodeo and my horses again.

One of my weekends of rodeo, for example, I was set up at Strathmore, Alberta, in the 2:00 Friday performance. After I ran, I drove to Millarville to pick up my husband, swap out rigs with my brother-in-law, and we left there around 8:00 p.m. We drove all night to Abbotsford, B.C. We competed in the Saturday night performance in Abbotsford at 6:00 p.m. When we finished up, it was 8:00 p.m., and we had a 14 hour all night drive to Grimshaw, Alberta. Without stopping, or sleeping, we would get to Grimshaw just in time to compete in the afternoon performance. And then after that, off to LaCrete. Then 15 hours home. On that weekend, I was only about $1,000 out of qualifying for the Canadian Finals Rodeo. One win would put me there, and then I would have to maintain my spot by placing here and there.

I knew I could do it.

After competing at Abbotsford that evening, I looked at my husband Joel and said, “I don’t want to do this.”

He stared at me. I continued, “This is retarded, all this driving, sleepless nights, living out of the truck, it’s too freaking expensive! We are putting our lives at risk driving tired – for a chance at winning just a little over one thousand dollars. I love my horses too much for them to be hauled all these miles any more. I’m sorry – I just want to go home.”

Joel supportively said, “That is fine, don’t feel bad. It is your call, you are the one making a run for the CFR. I support whatever you choose.”

It was the next day on the drive home I had made my decision to drop to semi-professional. I realized how much “ego” can play into a title or a dream we are chasing, or have already achieved. Therefore we feel we have to maintain our status by being miserable. Don’t get me wrong – I love running barrels, and I am so grateful for having been to the Canadian Finals Rodeo a couple times, the Calgary Stampede and so on. I honestly get just as much enjoyment running barrels at local jackpot on a summer night, as I do competing at most of the pro rodeos. So for me – there was my answer.

I went to my first couple amateur rodeos over this past weekend, with Joel and my niece, we didn’t have to go far, I was not stressed, and we had a good time. We are a team. And I like that.

Are You Ready to go Pro?

Most of us at some point of our lives have questioned, am I good enough to go pro? Could I be a professional at this? Whether it be baseball, football, tennis, or barrel racing, there is a lot to think about before taking that step.

Are you willing to sacrifice what it takes to get there?

There is the famous saying of, “go big, or stay home” Understandable. Ultimately, it is your own personal choice of which route you take, but take these few points into consideration:

• Do you have a horse that can readily compete, and can mentally and physically endure the pressure of the long travels, 3-4 rodeos a weekend, and stay sound?

• Are you willing to sacrifice your horse’s health and your own well being to fulfill your dream?

• Do you have a competitive back-up horse to fill in when your main horse needs time off?

• Is your horse competitive at the level of the professionals? Have they ever proven, or shown you that they can run under a 17.5 on a standard pattern? And consistently?

• Do you have the bank account, sponsors, and support in place to help you to afford getting down the road?

Finally, why do you want to go pro? Is it because you have a horse that can do it? Is it purely for your own ego to say to someone, “I have a pro card,” and be able to compete in front of the fans at a professional rode?

If you feel you have what it takes, and have the horse that can do it – go for it! Follow your dreams, nobody can stop you! Stay focused, and keep your head in the game.

Ultimately the decision is yours, but my advice is – compete where you are meant to be. Don’t force anything that is not realistic. Set goals that are reachable. Run for you, run because your horse loves it, and enjoy every hundredth of a second.

Alberta Barrel Racing Association Finals

It’s all about the trinkets! Talyn Kapfhamer, winner of the 3D at the ABRA Finals.

As the summer begins to wind down, there is one major barrel racing event to compete at – the Alberta Barrel Racing Association Finals. The Finals are held in Ponoka, at the newer Ag Events Center.

Amazing building.

Over the weekend, that arena hosted roughly 2,000 barrel runs over the course of four days. Thank you to all the sponsors who donated prizes. Truly appreciated by everyone!

I must say, there are a ton of barrel racers in Alberta. I qualified on both of my two horses, my niece also qualified on a horse of mine. We headed up to Ponoka on Wednesday afternoon, as the Open Barrel Race started at 7:00 a.m. on Thursday morning. This event is definately one of the more organized, and well run events I have ever been to, and kudos to all of those that make it happen. Everybody gets two runs, and then based on either the average, or a fast time, qualification for the Short Go Sunday.

I am highly impressed with the quality of horses we have here in Alberta, and I think we must all be proud for what we have. I ran both of my guys on Thursday, they ran great. Captain pulled off an outstanding 17.49, and Cat a 17.59, which both took us to the pay window. Day 2, they began with the youth, and my niece was up on my horse, Taco. Together they ran a beautiful pattern of 17.88 and hit the pay window as well. I saw another old horse of ours, who ran a 17.67 and looked amazing, and I am happy to see that the owners are doing great with him. Come Sunday, all four of our Stampede Ranch (TS) Horses had qualified for the Sunday Short Go, in the top end, and I can say I am very blessed and proud to be riding, and seeing our horses out there.

One of the winners was probably the most excited little girl I have ever seen. Her name is Talyn Kapfhamer, and she was the winner of the 3D. As she went up to receive her buckle, saddle and all her little trinkets she had won, she was no bigger than the saddle she had won. I had to get her picture! I absolutley love seeing that kind of excitement from a winner. And she will continue to win, because she appreciates it. Good work Talyn!

On the Saturday, I had a bit of down time, so I thought I would get my horses out of the pen for a walk. Earlier that day someone had told me about the river being nearby. I thought, well, it is 30°C out here, and I know they would love to go cool down and splash around in the water. So I am rode Captain, and ponyed Taco and Cat. We spotted the river, and the one kilometer road parallel to a set of train tracks, which we needed to travel down to reach it.

We arrived at the river, and overhead was the train bridge. I led everyone into the river to splash and play. In the distance, I heard something. I thought it might be a train. I glanced up at the bridge which was almost directly over us, and thought, “I better get outta here.”

The train sounded fairly far off still. I got my horses turned around, and we are heading up out of the water, and suddenly it appeared, coming at us head on, loud, and directly over top of us. Cat leapt backwards, jerking me his way, but I didn’t let go. He pulled again, I tried my hardest to hang on, but lost the rope. There was a moment of stillness, my heart dropped. He stood staring at the overhead thundering train for a second or two, and then the fear and flight set in, and he bolted, up out of the water, and into the trees.

Meanwhile, Taco in my left hand, pulled back, and almost jerked me out the other side of my saddle. Captain was doing everything he could to stay calm and upright what with getting pulled all over the place. Through the rope burn, blood and mud, I managed to hang onto Taco. I knew I couldn’t let two go. I rode up to a flat spot, the train continued on, and in my mind, I feared the horrific things that could happen.

I panicked. I didn’t know what to do but I needed to find Cat. Every morning when I feed my horses, I call them by name. And they come. As the train roared by, I started screaming, “Cat!….CAT!”

And, ….he came back. From out of the trees, I saw this scared little horse running up to us. He came to me, put his head almost in my lap in the saddle, and let me grab his halter. We were all safe.

I rode back to the trailer, shaken, and sick over what we had just experienced. It makes a tipped barrel, or anything negative look like nothing at all. Things like that are always a reality check. We must all count our blessings, daily. And give our horses the credit they deserve for knowing who they love and trust.