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