KEEPING IT 100

Charles McKay believes it’s important to continue evolving the conversation around inclusivity in barrel racing as a professional sport. Sheila Armstrong Photography.

This model slash influencer, slash broker and barrel racer has an impressive list of credentials on his resume. His positive attitude and continued conversation around inclusivity in barrel racing makes him a game-changer for the ages.

By Aleesha Harris

Charles McKay of Vancouver, BC, recalls with a laugh, the transaction that garnered him his first horse. 

“My mom traded our neighbour up the street a case of beer for this 26-year-old, half-dead horse that they had,” McKay says. “Her name was Shelly.”

Introduced to horses by his aunt and uncle, Sandy Douglas, an avid barrel racer and her husband, Lincoln Douglas, a professional chuckwagon racer, McKay and his sister Megan fell in love with horseback riding. Eventually they tagged along with their aunt and uncle to ride at the variety of events throughout British Columbia they hauled to.
 
“We travelled to all the Little Britches rodeos and my aunt and uncle took us all over BC, wherever my uncle was competing at the time with the chuckwagons” McKay recalls of his introduction to rodeo and gymkhana events. Noting the siblings’ horse hobby wasn’t likely to lessen any time soon, the horses were moved from the Douglas’ farm to the McKay family home in Chilliwack, BC, so the kids could focus even more on their horsemanship. 

“It kind of just took off from there,” McKay says of his involvement in the horse industry. “I’ve never really looked back since.”

McKay got Shelly when he was in the third grade. He’s 33 now. Safe to say, his horsepower has evolved from that first, senior-aged mare, though. 

“Quite a bit,” McKay confirms with a laugh.

Like many young riders, McKay’s evolution in horsepower was a gradual one. From that bought-for-a-beer sorrel Appaloosa mare, he was given an old Arabian show horse by long-time Chilliwack horse trainer and family friend, Tom Berry. 

“He was super broke,” McKay recalls of the gelding. “And I ended up training that horse for all the gymkhana events. I won all the year-end high points and whatever there was to win in the Chilliwack Riding Club.”

It was at that point that McKay says “the bug for barrel racing” was firmly seeded. When McKay’s sister Megan briefly stepped away from riding, McKay began riding a horse that she had named CJ. 

“I jumped on CJ and started competing,” McKay says.” I won a saddle and buckles and everything on him. He took me pretty far. I went to the BRN4D Finals on him. And that’s kind of how it all evolved for me.”

While the speed and level of competition in the sport of barrel racing, which sees a horse and rider run a pattern around three barrels set up in a cloverleaf pattern, is enticing, McKay says he’s always been more drawn to the development of young horses — and the incommunicable bond that comes with. 

“I love training horses and I love bringing a young horse along and seeing them progress,” McKay says. “And seeing what they’re learning and how far they come in the time that you work with them. Becoming a team with your horse, that’s really what I’ve always loved.” 

Being a man in barrel racing, McKay admits he feels there’s a “bit of a stigma” that lingers around male competitors in the sport.  

“I think it stems from the rodeo world, where only women are allowed to compete at the professional level and go to the National Finals Rodeo (NFR),” McKay says. “When you’re a fan and you’re watching rodeo, whether it’s the National Finals Rodeo or the Calgary Stampede, it’s referred to as Ladies Barrel Racing.”

That designation has to do with the fact that barrel racing in Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA) events is run by the Women’s Professional Rodeo Association (WPRA). Riders competing in PRCA barrel racing events must also be a WPRA membership permit holder.

While McKay acknowledges the significance of the history and triumphs of the WPRA, which began in 1948 as the Girl’s Rodeo Association before becoming the WPRA in 1981, he says it’s important to continue evolving the conversation around inclusivity in barrel racing as a professional sport. 

“I understand why it has been preserved that way,” McKay says. “But I feel like some of the best barrel racers in the world are, in fact, men. There are many male barrel racers. Lance Graves, Troy Crumrine and Brandon Cullins, they’ve won millions of dollars in futurities and derbies barrel racing.  

“I think that men should be given a shot to compete at the highest level of barrel racing.”

The topic, of course, isn’t new. In fact, in a 1989 lawsuit, Graves v. Women’s Professional Rodeo Ass’n, Inc., barrel racer Lance Graves challenged the inclusivity standards of the WPRA, stating the rules “discriminated against him by reason of his sex.” He lost the case.

Men are allowed to compete in the various association open 4D races, slot races, futurities and derbies. Some barrel racing associations have also amended the membership eligibility criteria in order to embrace all riders. McKay points to Valley Girls Barrel Racing Association in the U.S. as an example of a group within the sport that has “evolved” beyond gender restrictions, allowing everyone to compete. The well-known The American rodeo holds qualifiers throughout North America, which are also open to both men and women. 

“Many men have qualified and made it to the final round. No man has won it yet,” McKay says of the competition. “But I think it has been received really well, having men compete in that. So, I don’t know why it should be any different for the rest of the pro rodeos.”

The seasoned barrel racer also points to the apparent double standard in professional rodeo, which sees women allowed to compete alongside men in roughstock and roping events at PRCA rodeos, pointing to Chilliwack saddle bronc rider Kaila Mussell as a prime example. 

“Men are competing alongside women at the professional level in almost every other equestrian event, so why not the barrel racing?” McKay says. “Let’s not limit the sport to just one gender. Let’s have inclusivity for everyone.”

McKay at work in his other profession, modelling. CREDIT: Mark Stout.

Being one of the only male barrel racers in his area, McKay says people often look to him as a kind of “influencer” in the sport. His presence on social media platforms including Instagram (he goes by the handle @_cowboyken), where he shares many images running the barrel pattern, also undoubtedly helps with that. 

“I want to be able to use my voice for good,” McKay says. “And I really want to see this sport grow and evolve.”

On his social media channels, McKay also offers a glimpse into his other resumé-padding project: modelling. 

“With any of the modelling stuff too, you never know who is looking,” McKay says of the fashionable photography on his feeds. “I’m always on the lookout for different work with that, too.”

McKay started modelling in 2016, after a breakup saw him step away from horses in order to leave the Fraser Valley in an attempt to start fresh in Vancouver. 

“Being single and young and having these horses, I kept finding myself looking for more and wanting to make more friends. I was at a bit of a crossroads where I loved the horses so much, but I wanted to travel and do other things,” McKay recalls. 

Not long after that transition was made, McKay packed up and moved to Australia, where he lived for about a year. Upon his return to BC, McKay moved back to downtown Vancouver, taking over as a manager at Joey Restaurants. Through the company, he was transferred to Los Angeles. And that’s where he was living before the pandemic hit. 

“I was on a five-year work visa. I would have probably stayed on that career path with the company, because we were so rapidly growing,” McKay says. “But, once the pandemic hit, it changed the course of my life and I realized how much I missed having horses.”

McKay moved back to Canada and bought a few young horses. While his travels and career had taken him away from horses physically, McKay had maintained a connection within the industry through his business Horse Brokers International (www.facebook.com/Horsebrokersint), which sees him curate a virtual sale feed of barrel racing horses for buyers throughout North America. 

“I had a friend of mine who had this really nice horse that she just couldn’t seem to click with. She said, why don’t you just take him and ride him and see how he is?” McKays says of his first foray into brokering. “So, I brought him to my barn in Langley at the time and started riding him and he was awesome.”

He helped his friend sell the horse by posting him on his personal Facebook page. The horse sold within an hour. Seeing how quickly the horse sold, another friend approached McKay to help sell her horse. It also sold in the same day. 

“I love training horses and I love bringing a young horse along and seeing them progress. And seeing what they’re learning and how far they come in the time that you work with them. Becoming a team with your horse – that’s really what I’ve always loved.” – Charles McKay. Sheila Armstrong Photography

“It kind of just snowballed from there. I just happened to have a lot of great connections on my Facebook through friends and I ended up selling a whole bunch of horses,” McKay recalls. “Before long, I was busy full-time selling horses.”
 
He focuses on offering performance prospects or proven competition horse that he can personally vouch for. 

“I want to be known for representing quality animals,” McKay says. “That’s my primary focus.”

McKay also recently purchased a stallion prospect out of Texas to add to his growing program.  

“He’s by Epic Leader, out of a daughter of Darkelly that sired Paige (CP Dark Moon), the horse of Amber Moore’s that she went to the NFR multiple times on,” McKay says of the horse, named Epic Ruler, that he purchased from barrel futurity trainer Kassie Mowry. “The bloodlines are amazing on this stallion. And I’m really excited to have him in Canada.”

This new direction of his horse business, will soon see ‘breeder’ added to his already unique resume. 

“I guess I’m a model, a horse broker, a barrel racer, and an influencer in the horse world, as well,” McKay summarizes with a laugh. “I’m all of the above.”

It’s a Big Deal: Western Performance at Farmfair

The Canadian National Team Roping Futurity held during Farmfair International is one of the most exciting events to take in. Photo Credit: Northlands.

Farmfair International is one of Canada’s largest agriculture showcases. From November 7-11, Northlands in Edmonton, Alberta fills with over eight halls of western entertainment, including top producing sales, showcases and clinicians. Today Western Horse Review is focusing on what makes Farmfair International so unique for breeders, trainers and enthusiasts of western performance horses. During Farmfair events are held that bolster and boost the equine economy and bring performance horse enthusiasts in by the thousands. So, whether a breeder, trainer, or competitor, how do you get your piece of the Farmfair pie, while showcasing your best up-and-coming bloodstock and prospects? First, you start with the sales.

Two sales are hosted at Northlands for the western performance enthusiast. Photo Credit: Northlands.

The two sales offered during Farmfair International are the place to be. Both sales are the premier auction events for performance horses throughout Canada, with deadlines closing October 1st. For breeders of top performance horses across Canada, the Bloodstock Sale is the premier auction and marketing opportunity for yearlings, two-year-olds and three-year-olds. This year, Northlands is only accepting 20 of the above, and the horses that enter the ring will be highly sought after prospects. An exciting pay back for breeders, trainers and owners that enter their horses in the sale is the Northlands Bloodstock Sale Incentive. Horses that enter the sale ring are eligible to return for the added $10,000 Northlands Bloodstock Sale Incentive in subsequent years and can compete in the futurity of their choosing to win back the added money available to all horses, as well as the incentive money available to them.

Bloodstock Sale
Friday, November 9
Preview at 9 am, sale at 3:30 pm

Directly following the Bloodstock Sale is the Ranch Horse Sale.

The Ranch Horse Sale
Friday, November 9
Preview at 9:30 am, sale at 3:30 pm

Top yearling, two and three-year-old prospects are available at the Bloodstock Sale. Photo Credit: Northlands.

After attending top sales, take in the next level of young performance horses at two futurities offered at Northlands. If you were one of the lucky members in attendance that took home a top prospect from the Bloodstock sale you can sit back and envision your colt or filly competing for the huge added purses, as well as the Northlands Bloodstock Incentive in the coming years.

Barrel Racing Futurity
Saturday, November 10
Start time at 9 a.m.

The electrifying barrel racing held during Farmfair International features $5,000 in added prize money. Photo Credit: Northlands.

The Barrel Racing Futurity is open to any four or five-year-old horse. The Futurity will be two go rounds, with champion declared on average score and a $5,000 added purse. Don’t miss out on blazing fast runs with some of the top barrel racing competitors on the future power horses of the Canadian barrel horse scene.

The Canadian National Team Roping Futurity is one of the most exciting events to take in during Farmfair International. Photo Credit: Northlands.

Canadian National Team Roping Futurity
Sunday, November 11
Start time at 9 a.m.

A guaranteed five head judged event that showcases the best young rope horses in Canada. Open to horses five-years-old and under, the Canadian National Team Roping Futurity has become the premier showcase for roping prospects. Horses compete for $25,000 in prize money and provides breeders and trainers a unique opportunity to promote their horses to team roping enthusiasts from across Western Canada.

So, whether you are raising and training top performance horse prospects, or are riding and showing the best horses in Western Canada, Farmfair International has events for you. The money is waiting, and as the Farmfair slogan says, “It’s a Big Deal.”

Calgary Stampede 2018 Winners

Ryder Wright scored a career high 93 points on Stampede Warrior to become the $100,000 Saddle Bronc Champion. Photo by Shellie Scott Photography.

Showdown Sunday at the Calgary Stampede is known as the ‘Richest Day in Rodeo.’ After nine days of battling it out in the rodeo arena, winners of each event  took home a cheque for $100-thousand dollars.

Here are your 2018 winners:

SADDLE BRONC: Ryder Wright of Milford, Utah, scored a career high 93 points on Stampede Warrior to become the $100,000 Saddle Bronc Champion.

BAREBACK RIDING: Richie Champion of Dublin, Texas, rode Virgil to the championship of the $100,000 Bareback title.

BULL RIDING: Marcos Gloria of Brazil is the $100,000 Bull Riding champion.

STEER WRESTLING: Matt Reeves of Cross Plains, Texas, won the $100,000 in the steer wrestling with a time of 4.7 seconds.

BARREL RACING: Hailey Kinsel, Cotulla, Texas, and her horse Sister are your $100,000 champions with a time of 17.078.

TIE DOWN ROPING: Tuf Cooper, Weatherford, TX, is the $100,000 Tie Down Roping Champion.

GMC RANGELAND DERBY: Kurt Bensmiller, Dewberry, AB, wins the Dash for Cash at the Calgary Stampede.

Hailey Kinsel and her horse, Sister dominated the competition every day they were up. They are your $100,000 champions. Photo by Shellie Scott Photography.

 

Tuf Cooper is the $100,000 Tie Down Roping Champion. Photo by Shellie Scott Photography.

 

Marcos Gloria of Brazil is the $100,000 Bull Riding champion. Photo by Shellie Scott Photography.

 

Kurt Bensmiller, Dewberry, AB, wins the Dash for Cash at the Calgary Stampede. Photo by Shellie Scott Photography.

 

 

Shamrock Performance Horses

Tyler, Helen, Jaden and Rowdey Nowosad of Dewberry, AB.

BY GUEST AUTHOR, JESSI SELTE

Shamrock Performance horses owned and operated by Tyler and Helen Nowosad of Dewberry, Alberta, not only showed this years ABRA 1D champion horse, they also trained the DR Nick Bar Granddaughter, Raise The Gold Bar aka “Alley,” at the 2017 Canadian Barrel Horse Incentive Super Stakes held this past weekend in Ponoka, AB.

 

The dynamic duo of Alley and Helen made lasting impressions right from their first competition together in 2015, bringing home the Bohnet’s Barrel Barn Futurity Buckle. With a very successful 2015 season behind them, Alley needed a break as she suffered a wire cut that took her out of the 2016 racing season. Fully healed and well conditioned the team set their sights high for 2017. Long miles on the road did not deter, placing them at the top all spring and summer. August found them at the Alberta Barrel Racing Association Finals in Ponoka, Alberta. After multiple days and consistent runs they secured the 1D champion spot, and the championship saddle.

 

One of many buckles earned by Helen and Raise The Gold Bar.

Every success has a back-story and Helen and Tyler’s is one of hard work and determined nature. The quiet humble couple, live with their two children Jaden (11) and Rowdey (7), three dogs and numerous other barnyard animals just south of the Chuckwagon Capital of Canada in Dewberry, AB. They bought the ranch in November of 2007 and have since upgraded the property to be safe and functional for their broodmares and young stock.

One of the foals produced by the Nowosad family.

With mutual interest and involvement in College Rodeo and roping, Tyler and Helen found each other. Shortly after College Tyler, a welder by trade, focused his energy on taking care of his young family. Competition wouldn’t stay away long though. The young couple persevered through pedigree to find top performances horses. The first being, a DR Nick Bar mare, the horse that Helen developed her outstanding ability as a barrel racer. After much success with the DR Nick Bar line, and collecting four own daughters by the legendary stallion, this would be the start of their elite bred broodmare band. This includes Alley’s sensational Dam “Sweet Fleet Bar.” The DR Nick Bar horses have proven their athletic ability and superior mindsets time and time again.

The couple knew right from the start how important a solid proven foundation would be. Not only did the mares have to prove themselves, but the foals had to perform as well. That thought process led to the Nowosad’s obtaining their double-bred Peppy San badger stallion BSF Northern Boon, aka “Vegas” (Peptos Quick Pick x El Northern Dance).

This next key purchase, Vegas, started as a smooth moving yearling, who caught Tyler’s eye at an auction sale. Tyler had planned to sit on his hands that day, but couldn’t resist a bid. In 2014 the Nowosad’s started crossing Vegas with their DR Nick Bar daughters, and in no time fell in love with the cross. Vegas now is the primary stallion used at Shamrock Performance Horses.

The young stallion and Tyler shared their own success story this spring, when SR Vegas Got Lucky aka “Marley,” was sold to 2016 World Champion Header Levi Simpson. Marley, the first son of Vegas’, found his niche in team roping instead of barrel racing. This allowed Tyler to campaign his skills as a roper and trainer.

Versatility in the performance world can be a hard to achieve. Combining dominant race blood with outcross working cow horse lines, generates an opportunity for the Nowosad’s to utilize all of their abilities. This is very evident in the horses that they are now performing on. This foundation of strong genetics in pedigree will remain stable for years to come.

Jaden and Rowdey are also an integral part of the system. They expose, and challenge the young horses to adhere to the “younger generations” tasks. Further demonstrating the quality of mind produced through the outcross genetics.

With winter fast approaching the Nowosad’s are gearing up for 2018. Fully dedicated, each and every one of them contributes their time, effort and dollars to insuring the success of the program. Helen is currently taking the steps necessary to get Alley on the track to RFD TV’s American Rodeo Richest One Day Rodeo in the World, hosted in Texas February 2018.

The Canadian Barrel Horse Incentive Breeders Sale October 7, 2017 in Ponoka, Alberta, was a strong start to the new season. Where they had a yearling filly “Sweet Northern Nick” entered with her Super Stakes Certificate and selling as the reserve highest bid. This filly is eligible for the added incentive money if run at the CHBI Thanksgiving race in the future. This was the first available yearling horse to be sold out of the program.

However, that was not the end of the Nowosad’s success at the 2017 Thanksgiving weekend. “Alley” held up her end of the bargain as well. With the fastest times on day 1&2 of the CBHI Derby, Helen and Alley had the long wait of being the last run in the Short Go. Excitement coursed through the arena as the dynamic duo “peeled paint” on three exceptional barrels, not only to win, but also to set an arena record at Calnash Center, with a 16.824 sec run. Hard work pays off but does not start nor end in the arena.

The Nowosad family will be busy introducing their exciting young prospects to the training program. Their training program involves many aspects including gentle starts; to develop balance and minds, extensive exposure to kids, dogs and other animals; with consistent training by all four members. One training tip they take very seriously is giving their horses praise. By developing a strong horse/rider bond through praise, the Nowosad’s are able to establish a willing confident partner.

Helen credits mentor NFR qualifier Lee Ann Rust for elevating her confidence and refining the mechanics of the training program. Rust’s insightful instruction has greatly influenced Helen’s guidance of her daughter Jaden.

Tyler and Helen are very excited for the future of their program. As well as watching Jaden and Rowdey make an impression on the rodeo world. The Shamrock may be a symbol of luck, but it’s the dedication of this exceptional family that brings success to Shamrock Performance Horses.

Show Me the Money

levi-simpson-nfr16-5-covymoorephoto

CANADIAN PROFESSIONAL RODEO ASSOCIATION

Canada Night doesn’t happen until Thursday at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo. But apparently the Canadian contingent of WNFR qualifiers either didn’t get the memo or they just plain couldn’t wait.

The first all Canadian team roping team hasn’t just showed up at this Finals, they have been a factor in every round, including a win in round one. Tonight the Alberta twosome, Ponoka’s Levi Simpson and Arrowwood heeler, Jeremy Buhler, had their fastest run to date, a 4.0 to split the round with Kaleb Driggers and Junior Nogueira, each of the four men pocketing $23,480. Simpson and Buhler remain in 2nd place in the average and have moved to 7th and 6th respectively in the world standings.

“We just missed the WNFR field last year,” Simpson commented. “This year, we worked harder at it, put in more practice time and prepared mentally for every situation in the arena.”

That preparation served the Alberta duo well in Round 5. “Like Levi, I don’t get caught up in the show,” Buhler, the man sporting the most famous beard at this NFR added. “I don’t hear the music, I just keep it simple and watch the feet.”

It took Jake Vold 14 WNFR rounds to win his first go round buckle. It took him one to win his second. Twenty four hours after winning round four with a sensational 89.5, the Airdrie (via Ponoka) three time Canadian champion came back with a spectacular 89 score on Hi Lo Pro Rodeo’s Wilson Sanchez. The back to back wins have propelled Vold to 4th place in the average and fifth in the world.

Before the twenty-nine year-old talent nodded his head tonight, there were already three scores of 86 points or higher on the board. No problem for Jake Vold.

“I want someone to jump out there with a 90 so I can go get them,” he confided. “Seeing big rides before me fuels my fire.”

The Calgary Stampede bucking sensation Xplosive Skies lived up to his name as he pitched Manitoba bareback rider Orin Larsen to the Thomas and Mack turf before the eight second klaxon en route to winning the Rank Horse of the Night Award.

And not to be outdone, the three Canadian bronc riders brought their A (Eh!) game with Canadian Champion, Clay Elliott grabbing a 3/4 split – courtesy of his 86.5 ride on Bar T Rodeo’s Son of Sadie. And right behind his countryman was the Hudson Hope, British Columbia man, Jake Watson who took home a 6th place cheque with his 85 score on Stace Smith Rodeo’s Resistol’s Top Hat. Watson has quietly fashioned a solid Finals to date after qualifying in fifteenth spot. He is now five for five and has climbed to third in the average.

The third Canadian bronc rider, recent bridegroom Zeke Thurston was 81 points on the appropriately named Maple Leaf of Frontier Rodeo. The Big Valley cowboy was just out of the money in Round 5. Reigning World Champion, Jacobs Crawley, from Boerne, Texas, bounced back from a Round 4 buck-off to mark a spectacular 89 on Frontier Rodeo’s four time world champion, Medicine Woman. The Monday night go-round also marked the end of 18 year old Ryder Wright’s record-tying run. After four consecutive go-round wins, the Milford, Utah cowboy bucked off Flying 5 Rodeo’s Spring Planting.

Minnesota bull dogger JD Struxness continued his hot streak with a 3.5 second run. Over the last three days, Struxness has two go-round wins and a 1-2 split. In the barrel racing, go-round winner was Keizer, Oregon cowgirl Amberleigh Moore with a 13.62 second run. And in the bull riding, Scottie Knapp of Albuquerque, New Mexico made his first ride of the 2016 WNFR a profitable one. His 87 on Rafter H Rodeo Livestock’s Breaking Bad was good for the go round win.

About the Canadian Professional Rodeo Association

The Canadian Professional Rodeo Association (CPRA) with headquarters in Airdrie, Alberta is the sanctioning body for professional rodeo in Canada. The CPRA approves over 50 events annually with a total payout exceeding $5.1 million. Join us for our premiere event – the Canadian Finals Rodeo (CFR) – in early November each year in Edmonton, Alberta at Northlands Coliseum. Follow us on Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat at @prorodeocanada, like Canadian Professional Rodeo Association on Facebook, or online at RodeoCanada.com.

The Gain, The Pain and $17.04

Photo courtesy of

Photo courtesy of Canadian Professional Rodeo Association.

 

Probably no two contestants better personify the drama of the Cinch Pro Series Canada Series Final than Alberta team ropers Steele DePaoli and Kasper Roy.

DePaoli and Roy entered the weekend event as distinct longshots. Both were sitting 18th in the Canadian standings, $2,500 back of the 12th and final CFR qualifying berth with six teams between them and every contestant’s dream—Edmonton in November.

But the duo overcame a sluggish September to come up big when it mattered most. A 5.4 second run won the opening round on Friday night. Then the Mossleigh, AB, heeler, Roy, and Longview, AB’s DePaoli managed a 4/4 split in Saturday night’s second round with a 5.6. The two runs meant a second place finish in the average and a total payoff of $3281.25 per man. The payday vaulted six time CFR qualifier DePaoli all the way to 8th in the final standings with two time CFR contestant, Roy, climbing to 10th spot on the heeling side.

“We definitely had a game plan,” DePaoli admitted. “Kasper and I talked about it and we both thought we should just try to win the average and if we happened to do really good in the rounds, that was just an added bonus. Then when we won that first round, we knew we had a chance to be up there in the average. We figured if we caught our steer on Saturday we’d be going to Edmonton. I stayed off the barrier and took an extra swing in that last round just to be sure. And Kasper took an extra swing too. The runs we made there were pretty well exactly like the runs we’d been making in practice the last few weeks.”

And being a couple of veteran guys helped too. “Yeah, this was probably as relaxed as we’ve been all season,” DePaoli added. “One thing I’ve learned over the years is how not to panic. I guess I never thought I wasn’t going to be at the CFR but there comes a time when you have to do something about it. And it was cool that this was our time.”

DePaoli had high praise for the Pro Series Final. “It’s a great concept for competitors and it’s awesome for the crowd too.”

The Cinch Pro Series Final’s success was part of a special month for the second generation roper. Three weeks earlier, he and Becky Treich became engaged. For now DePaoli plans a little R and R with a sheep hunt in the offing before the serious practicing for the CFR gets started.

“If the weather  stays decent, I’d like to do quite a bit right here at home,” he noted. “And I’ll have to talk to Kasper about our game plan for Edmonton but I think if we made our goal to win the average up there as well, things should turn out okay.”

But the team roping drama didn’t end with the big move from Roy and DePaoli. Defending Canadian Champion (header) Roland McFadden hung on for 11th spot in the final standings and a chance to defend his title. And with families, fans and contestants working calculators and texting furiously back and forth, the battle for the final spot was the most dramatic of all. Clint Buhler who didn’t qualify for the Calgary event, had to watch helplessly as Riley Warren (and others) charged up the standings. In the end it was Warren who (roping with Buhler’s brother Jeremy at the Series Finals) came closest… his quest for 12th place coming up just $17.04 short. Cue the sigh of relief from Clint Buhler.

The nail-biting didn’t end there, however. On the heeling side, Merritt, BC cowboy, Spencer Rutherford, roping with Strathmore, AB, header Denver Johnson, was 13th heading into the weekend. The duo caught last hole (4th) in the average for $625, enough to sneak Rutherford into the top twelve. He finished up 10th on the season. And the moves into the standings by Roy and Rutherford meant that Chase Simpson of Claresholm hung on to the final CFR berth while Saskatchewan roper, Brady Chappel, and McFadden’s heeling partner, Tyrel Flewelling, were bumped from the top twelve. Flewelling, the three time and defending champion heeler from Lacombe, AB, finished just $24.19 back of Simpson. Rutherford too will have to find another partner for Edmonton as Johnson, with fewer rodeos through the season, fell short in his CFR chase.

The Cinch Pro Rodeo Canada Series Final Team Roping Champions were Klay Whyte and Brett Buss with earnings of $4,218 each.

The team roping was not the only high-stakes action taking place at the Agrium Western Event Centre. In the bull riding, 2006 Canadian champion, Tanner Girletz, was another guy with a large mountain to climb heading into the weekend. The third generation talent rolled into Calgary with a broken arm (his free hand) and a $1,200 deficit to make up if he wanted to extend his season. Girletz bucked off Friday night, leaving himself one final chance to add an eighth CFR qualification to his resume. But the 32-year-old was ready. A spectacular 86-point ride on Saturday night on Outlaw Buckers’ Tennessee Whisky was enough to win the round and guarantee Girletz third in the average. The $2,500 haul was more than sufficient to jump the popular Carstairs, AB, cowboy into the top 12 and relegate Meeting Creek’s Garrett Green to spectator status.

In tie down roping, it was the veteran Rimbey hand, Dean Edge, making the decisive move. Edge was his consistent self, placing in both go-rounds and the average to earn just over $2,000, enough to move him into the top 12 and slide Virgil Poffenroth to the sidelines.  Riley Warren, who narrowly missed the cut in the team roping, nevertheless had a profitable weekend. The timed event specialist earned  $4,687 overall and will be heading to Edmonton in the tie-down roping.

The overall Cinch Final Tie-Down Roping Champion was Alwin Bouchard with a total of $3,906.

For the second year in a row, Taber, AB’s Nancy Csabay enjoyed a stellar couple of days in Calgary. A year ago, she and her talented mare, Wicked, used a big Cinch Pro Series Final to capture season leader honours. This time around the stakes were a little higher as the reigning Canadian Champion was sitting in 13th spot and needing a little more magic if she wanted to get back to Edmonton to defend her title. The twosome responded to the challenge by finishing third in both rounds and winning the average to carry Csabay ($3,750) to the Calgary victory and punch her ticket to the CFR.

Csabay’s effort left rookie Colby Gilbert in 12th place and heading to her first CFR. Kerilee Noval, who had been sitting precariously in that 12th spot entering weekend action, had not qualified for Calgary and ended up on the outside looking in.

The remaining events were no less exciting but didn’t see the dramatic position changes noted above. In the bareback riding, late season surges by a youthful trio meant that all three would make their first appearances at the CFR. Eastend, Saskatchewan’s Dantan Bertsch, Sherwood Park, AB, cowboy, Kody Lamb and Okotoks, AB hand, Pascal Isabelle, finished up 10th, 11th and 12th respectively. Michael Solberg earned the Championship with $4,843 won.

Josh Harden, the defending All-Around champion, and the 12th man in the saddle bronc riding standings prior to the Calgary production, protected his CFR berth with a solid showing. But the story in the bronc riding was Sylvan Lake, AB’s Lane Cust. The two-time novice champion won both go-rounds and the average to ride out of Calgary with a cool $5,000 in his Cinch jeans and a Resistol Rookie of the Year title as well. Cust’s performance carried him past first year steer wrestler, Brendan Laye, to capture the top rookie honours.

No significant changes were recorded in the steer wrestling as a couple of central Alberta doggers, Rowdy Hays in 11th place and Brock Butterfield in 12th, neither of whom were in the Calgary Series Finals, were able to weather the storm. The 2012 All-Around Champion, Travis Reay of Mayerthorpe, AB, came up just short in his effort to catch one or both and qualify for a fifth consecutive CFR berth. The 2016 Cinch Pro Final Steer Wrestling Champion was Straws Milan ($4,687.)

For complete unofficial Cinch Pro Rodeo Canada Series Finals results, go to rodeocanada.com

Freeze Frame – Barrel Racing

There’s no denying it, Sherry Cervi is on fire. The defending world champion barrel racer and her legendary mount, Stingray, light up the dirt in any arena that they run in. So what equipment do they use to set them apart from all of the other girls who are hot on their heels?

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1) BIT. I ride Stingray in a two piece snaffle from the Carolina Bit Company.

2) HAT, SHIRT, JEANS. In this photo, I am wearing a Resistol straw hat, a Resistol shirt from my own collection and Cowgirl Tuff jeans.

3) HORSE BOOTS. I use Legacy splint boots on the front and back legs, made by Classic Equine.

4) PAD. Also by Classic Equine, I use a plain felt pad for under-the-saddle support.

5) SADDLE. I ride a Crown C saddle, made by Martin Saddlery.

South Country Barrel Racing Futurity & Derby

Contestants from across Western Canada and five northwestern states competed in the largest futurity and derby in Canada May 16-18th. Held in the Cardston Agridome the South Country Barrel Futurity and Derby saw 63 horses ran in the futurity, 57 horses competed in the derby, as well as over 380 entries in the open 4D barrel race. This year’s event had over $16,000 added money plus prizes.

One of the event organizers Monica Wilson said that it was the best weekends for good weather they have seen in awhile, adding there was no snow!

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Rayel Little and Dreamy Little Nick took home the futurity average saddle and over $2,800.

In the Futurity the top 15 average times after two runs came back for the short round. With a time of 14.290 in the short go, Rayel Little on Dreamy Little Nick took home over $2,800 for winning the short go and the average as well as a trophy saddle.

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Derby Champions Elaina Black and Possible Rockstar took home a trophy saddle and over $2,500.

The top 12 average times on two runs in the Derby came back for the short go. In the end it was Elaina Black on Possible Rockstar who ended up on top turning in a 14.290 in the short round and to go on to win the average. Black left Cardston with a trophy saddle and over $2,500 richer.

In the open 4D it was Sonda Marks on Time To Raise The Bar who won the average buckle in the 1D. Kari Bloor on Drum took home the 2D buckle, Barbra Kennedy on Allie won the 3D buckle and Randa Nugent won the average in the 4D on Howes Pitch Black.

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All short go qualifiers went home with winter blankets and prize money

A Family Built on Champions

When it comes to pursuing their passions, the Whiteside Family runs nothing short of hard work, motivation and determination.

It’s all in the family for Travis and Dusti Whiteside. They are champions – making champions. Travis, a 12-time Canadian Finals Rodeo qualifier, Canadian Champion, season leader and multiple-time Calgary Stampede qualifier in the bareback riding, and his wife Dusti, who qualified for Nationals every year during high school, competing in cutting, breakaway roping, barrel racing, goat tying and pole bending, also receiving a scholarship from her successes, are now passing on knowledge to their own children – as well as many other children.

Whiteside Family

The Whiteside Family

Travis and Dusti have two daughters, Kylie 13, and Bradi 11. Though these girls are still young, Kylie just coming into her teen years, and Bradi being four foot nothing – don’t think for a second that these two won’t out rope, or even out ride you. They were both pretty well riding before they could walk, and had a pretty good taste of rodeo early on in life.

Where it all started!

Where it all started!

Their mother, Dusti, is the founder of Small Spurs Rodeo. It is an organization specially for children 14 and under, started in 2007. When talking with Dusti about Small Spurs, she had started the program realizing that, there really was nothing for kids to get started in rodeo. As it has been one of her passions for several years, she also stated that it is important for kids to have something to do, where they can set a goal, achieve that goal, get to a rodeo, and stay out of trouble. With her prizes ranging from buckles to saddles, everyone gets a prize. Dusti is very grateful to all the sponsors that donate, allowing her to continue to run Small Spurs Rodeo, and make it a great, positive atmosphere for children, and everybody. Dusti even admits that running Small Spurs Rodeo has changed her as a person, and she is happy for that.

Both Kylie and Bradi got their start in Small Spurs Rodeo. Since starting rodeo, Kylie has had many accomplishments. Her bigger accomplishments include qualifying for Nationals in Gallup, New Mexico, Canadians, and even winning her first saddle in the all-around at 9-years-old.

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Kylie making another great run!

Gallup, NM

Gallup, NM

Bradi, recently won the all-around title at the Canadian Girls Rodeo Association Finals, was the season leader in the pole bending, and was the youngest competitor qualifying in all of her events. She was also the Rookie of the Year in Junior High School Rodeo, and qualified for Nationals in Gallup, New Mexico, where she set the fast time in the pole bending, with a time of 20.1 to win first, as well as a 19.9 with a knocked pole, and still winning second. 

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Bradi getting one roped… quick!

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Bradi and her winnings.

For as young as these girls are, and the accomplishments they have to date, people may ask, “What makes them so good?”

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Kylie and Bradi spending some quality time with their horses in Gallup, New Mexico

Well, they all eat, sleep and breathe what they love. Recently, the girls have been getting home schooled.  At first, Travis and Dusti were non-believers in the whole home schooling idea, but eventually they thought they would give it a try, and said so far, it has been great. Other than Travis said, “Kylie and Bradi are always hiding on me, and then I look out the window and see them riding bareback across the field on the young horses.”

The girls couldn’t be happier. They love that they have way more time to work with their horses, and pursue their passions. Ultimately, these two want to be great champions.

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The Whiteside girls compete together in the Team Roping as well!

I have watched Kylie and Bradi grow, and ride over the years, and always could see how “handy” these two were going to be. My eyes were opened even more when Dusti started showing me videos. Things like, Kylie teaching her horse to rear up, then another video of her going around the barrels bareback and bridleless, and then both Kylie and Bradi had taught their horses to lie down within a day. It just goes to show how important “quality time” is.

Aside from being a rodeo family, I admire the personal values they share with their children, as well as with the children from Small Spurs:

  • It is important to win.
  • It is important to lose.
  • You can never be a winner, until you have learned how to lose.
  • Always congratulate people.
  • Smile – even when you don’t feel like it.
  • Be a humble winner, and a graceful loser.
  • Don’t ever beat your horse up.

“If you don’t dream, it doesn’t happen. Everybody has to have dreams to be successful.” ~ Dusti Whiteside