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.

Hell or High Water Rodeo

The aftermath of the floods that recently affected High River, Calgary, Millarville, Eden Valley and many more places, has left many with nothing. Loved ones were lost; there are no homes, no cars, no personal memorabilia, no jobs. Nothing. Those affected are slowly trying to piece their lives and community back together, and ongoing help is still needed.

High River, Alberta is the one area that was hit the hardest by the ravaging flood. There have been plenty of volunteers, but this disaster and the devastation that goes along with it, is going to take a lot of time and dollars to restore back to habitable.
Plenty of fundraising and benefits have taken place, but yet- There is one more that can really help out.

Rod MacBeth, a rodeo announcer, has big plans. He has created the Hell or High Water Rodeo, to benefit flood victims of Alberta. On September 21st and 22nd, commencing at 1:00 p.m., the rodeo is a two-day, family fun benefit, that will feature some of the best cowboys and cowgirls in the world.

A typical day at the office for rodeo announcer, Rod MacBeth.

One of the highlights of the two-day event is the Team Roping Jackpot hosted the morning of the 21st, for 30 teams of those that were affected by the flood.

When I asked Rod how he chose his competitors, he replied, “I really want to have competitors that have paid their dues. Ones that have worked hard and made a name for themselves. I also want the fans to be able to watch a great rodeo, and have a good feeling when they leave. They may forget what you said, but they will always remember how you made them feel.”

Amongst Rod are many others that are involved.

“Once I got this whole thing started, I realized, I am going to need help, and lots of it. I have a great crew of people that are working alongside me, and things are moving along.”

Some of those people include, Viktor Grant & Ryan Johns (Rodeo Committee), Jack Vanstane & Denice Hansen (Sponsorship Committee), Peggy Sue Moffat & Annalise Blishen (Production Managers), Tayla Frazer (Social Media), Anna Melnick (Media), Josh Traptow (Volunteers)

I’ll be there too, competing in the barrel racing event.

Oh, and we’re proud to announce, Katy Lucas, chosen as one of Western Horse Review’s Top 25 Under 25 this year, will be sharing the announcing duties with Rod.

Also, special thanks to Kesler Rodeo and Maynerd Bird for providing the stock for the rodeo.

For more information on the Hell or High Water Rodeo, you can visit their website, like them on Facebook, or follow their Twitter feed. So put those dates on your calendar, do a good deed, and come out to support!

To Run. Or, Not to Run.

There’s earnings, standings and pride at risk. Is it worth the risk?

We have all shown up to a jackpot or rodeo when the ground conditions have been less than ideal. Whether it be due to Mother Nature, or simply, just not safe. We watch girls go out and “safety up”, while others go for it.

How do we know what we should do, and what is at risk?

There is ground that can handle copious amounts of rain and still be safe, yet subconsciously in the back of our minds we are thinking, “What if?”

There are some horses that can handle those sorts of conditions, still we need to ask ourselves, is it worth it to put our horses, and ourselves at risk for one run? Depending what is at stake for the winning run, we always need to think of the longevity of ourselves and our horses.

When I was competing at the Calgary Stampede one year, it poured right before the performance on Day 4. Go figure. I was right on the bubble for qualifying for the Sunday Showdown, and needed to do something. Luckily, I was not the first one out to test the ground. I sat back and watched a few girls go, some were too safe, and some went for it, and ended up slipping, or cruising on by the barrels because their horses had nothing to get a hold of.

In my mind, I was scared.

I love my horse.

Running in the mud places you and your horse at risk.

Right before I ran, I had a memory of a couple years prior, where I was fortunate enough to get a great piece of advice from a great Canadian champion barrel racer and futurity trainer. She told me, “Sometimes you just need to sacrifice a run. It doesn’t matter where you are, and what is up for grabs. Just slow it down, and make a confidence run.”

I know Captain can run. I knew if I really controlled that first barrel, he could get a feel for the ground. My goal was to be safe in the turns, and really push him in between. In the mud, that is where you can make up your time. And it worked! We were safe, clean, and qualified for the Sunday Showdown. And what an experience!

So when conditions are less than ideal, if you are unsure, remember that piece of advice that was offered to me at one time, and in the long run, it will pay off.

New Barrel Patch Blogger

Western Horse Review welcomes two-time CFR Qualifier Kendra Edey to our online crew. Stay in touch as Edey takes us with her down the rodeo road.

Longview, Alberta cowgirl, Kendra Edey.

My love for life surrounds horses, barrel racing, and the natural beauty of nature that is in this world. Living countless hours in the saddle and on the rodeo trail, I am truly grateful for the experiences and success I have had along the way. I have been lucky enough to raise and train all of my own horses, from my father-in-laws breeding program (Stampede Ranch Performance Horses), and have them take me to the top (Canadian Finals Rodeo, Calgary Stampede, Houston Super Series Rodeo, San Antonio, and much more). I have seen much and met many interesting people along my travels, in which I would love to share with you in my writings. Feel free to follow my blog in the Western Horse Review – The Barrel Patch and like, share or comment with your thoughts and opinions!

Thank you for reading and good luck to everyone in their travels!

~ Kendra Edey

Winding Down the 2012 Futurity Road

Raylee Racer Raylee Edwards

Raylee’s uses her own ‘Raylee Racer’ barrel saddles, available at the Frontier Western Store. Photos by Deanna Buschert

The barrel racing season in Canada, goes by fast. This year the Western Horse Review has followed Raylee Edwards of Walter Quarter Horses on our Futurity Road article series. Throughout the past several months, each one of the farm’s youngsters has shown they have the ability to mature into a high calibre barrel horse. For Raylee, there have been many highs and lows at each race. Every run on a young horse is an opportunity to discover what the athlete may be truly capable of and what needs to be improved. Here is an update on these four futurity horses, as the season turns towards the final showdown at the Canadian Barrel Horse Incentive Futurity and Derby in Ponoka, AB, Oct. 4-7th.

Raylee Edwards

Raylee giving Super Sue some stretches to keep her supple.

“It is an example of the ups and downs of their futurity year. Right now, it is her time,” says Raylee.

In Cardston, she was the only horse out of the bunch to make the finals. Super Sue finished 12th at that futurity and at this point, Raylee couldn’t be happier with how this mare has sprung forward out of the pack.

“I have been working her a lot at home. I will ride her outside and then do lots of circles. Then I’ll go back inside to work her on the barrels. I want her so that when she sees a barrel she is magnetized to it.”

So far Super Sue is running in the top of the 1D at the southern Alberta jackpots. This proves this little mare may eventually take Raylee into the top of the standings.

Following this Sept 16th run at Brooks, AB, (clocking a 14.9) Raylee mentions, “She ran better Saturday 14.6 which was I think 22nd out of 300 plus barrel racers.”

At this point in the season, Fast Eddie is running some fast times, but the challenge is keeping it fun for him. Towards the beginning, Fast Eddie was standing out of the pack. During July, Raylee felt that he needed a bit of a break.

Fast Eddie’s current exercise routine involves a lot of casual outside riding. This may involve moving horses or trotting up and down coulee banks. While putting a solid pattern on a horse is important, Raylee says once they have it figured out, there is no sense drilling it into them.

His runs at the South Country Futurity in Cardston, AB, were not what Raylee was hoping for. While he is making progress in getting over a few green horse jitters, keeping Eddie ahead in the game may be a matter of taking it easy.

Floozy is running top times but still testing her rider at every turn. She is scooting down the arena hard, but makes sure Raylee rides her hard all the way through the pattern.

“I have to be a thought-step in front of her.” Floozy is a very zippy mare and after knocking a couple barrels at Cardston, Raylee says, “She isn’t going through any bad spells, I just have to keep up with her thinking.”

Somedays coming to an important race, a rider can try to over think the game. Raylee says when this happens, it is tough to keep herself from riding too tight.

“I am tight at the big futurities and it causes her to be tight. She can go so fast so quick and then shut down to nothing so quick. You have to be just right. The less I do with her the more. She does not need the drilling.”

Unfortunately McCabe has been put on the back burner over the summer. After being pulled out of Ponoka, he has not been running since. He is now starting making a comeback, as Raylee is now putting him back into shape.

After showing great potential earlier in the year, Raylee is hoping he will once again begin to put himself into the top of the pack. Currently, this young horse is running in the top of the 2D and is quickly catching up with the gang.

On the Futurity Road


Raylee Edwards

Fast Eddie placed 9th in the Futurity Average, at this spring’s Valley Girls Barrel Daze, in Walla Walla, Washington. Photos by Deanna Buschert

In the March issue of the Western Horse Review, we introduced readers to this season’s Walters Quarter Horses futurity prospects to be campaigned by the 2003 Canadian Professional Barrel Racing Champion, Raylee Edwards. Months later, tamoxifen the heat is on and the late summer sun has this competitor fighting to keep her string of horses fit and at the top of their game. Each futurity is showing one horse stand out, while another tests its’ rider’s stamina. After falling out of the top ten at June’s Silver Sage Futurity in Brooks, Alberta, Raylee mentions the June weekend was “rough”.

“I had a very full plate and perhaps got off on the wrong foot. I was 13th on Fast Eddie and 14th on Super Sue. One of the derby horses just missed the cut and the other worked really nice, but tipped. He would have made the finals. So, it’s on to the next one.”

After July’s South Country Futurity and Derby in Cardston, AB, Raylee felt it was time for the crew to take a break. A full time job of looking after a herd of young barrel horses can seem like a dream opportunity. However, as Raylee wipes the sweat from her forehead, she says it’s not easy.

Raylee taking a break in the shade, during the South Country Futurity and Derby in Cardston, AB, July 6-8th.

“I ride them a lot. I will spend at least 45 minutes per horse. It makes for a full day. A lot of times I will go ride at night, when Kassie (Raylee’s daughter) is asleep. In the past three weeks I have been making sure these horses are my priority.”

With horses on the farm to start, pattern, futurity, derby and rodeo, Raylee notes that putting time in the saddle is a demanding position.

Meet the list of Walter Quarter Horses, on the 2012 Futurity Road.


Lil Sis Sue Raylee Edwards Walter Quarter Horses

‘Super Sue’, is sired by Real Easy Buy and out of the dam Docs Baby Sue.

Super Sue is out of one of the Walter’s most powerful broodmares. This young mare is a full sister to Real Easy Doc (Doc), the CPRA’s 2010 Ladies Barrel Racing Horse with the Most Heart, and Canadian Champion and earner of over $250,000. Docs Baby Sue also produced Kid Baby $15,000 Pro Tour winner, and Sansue Streaker a multiple derby champion who passed away in 2008.


Fast Edwards Raylee Edwards Walter Quarter Horses

‘Fast Eddie’, is sired by Real Easy Buy, out of the dam Doc Lou Sue.

Fast Eddie represents the basis of the Walter Quarter Horse breeding program. His sire, Real Easy Buy, by the AQHA legend Easy Jet, is their present stallion. The gelding’s dam, by Big Time Louie was out of their favorite mare, Docs Baby Sue.


Define Flaire Raylee Edwards Walter Quarter Horses

‘Floozy’, is sired by Real Easy Buy out of the dam Streaky Girl.

Floozy’s dam, Streaky Girl, is another Docs Baby Sue daughter, by Kiddin N Streakin. She was born in 2000 and Floozy is her first foal. Raylee had the opportunity to ride Flair, who also had a very sensible personality. As a barrel horse, she placed at the Diamond N, Silver Sage and South Country Futurities, before being retired to become a broodmare.


Decathelete Raylee Edwards Walter Quarter Horses

‘McCabe’, sired by Kiddin N Streakin, out of the dam MD Misty Me.

McCabe is one of the last Kiddin N Streakin offspring left for the Walters to futurity. The 1984 stallion was by the 2011 AQHA Hall of Fame inductee Streakin Six, and passed away on their farm in the summer of 2010.

Watch for this year’s final Futurity Road instalment in the November/December issue of Western Horse Review and catch up with how these prospects finished their year. Stay tuned online for more online updates, leading up to the final event of the season. The Canadian Barrel Horse Incentive Futurity, to be held Oct 4-7th, at the Ponoka Ag Event Facility. Results from the 2012 season are listed online at the Canadian Barrel Horse Futurity website.

In the meantime, check out Raylee’s barrel saddle, called The Raylee Racer, located at the Frontier Western Shop, in Claresholm, AB.