Former Williams Lake resident Kirsty White competed in barrel racing at the Canadian Professional Rodeo Association finals in Edmonton, Alta., winning nearly $24,000 and qualifying for the Calgary Stampede next summer.
This was her first time competing in the finals, held at Rexall Place, and she came in fourth overall in Canada.
She also won Cowgirl of the Year last year in the Canadian Pro Rodeo Association.
She has competed seven times at the Calgary Stampede.
“It’s hard to get in there now because they changed the format about four years ago and only take four or five of the top girls in Canada,” she explained, adding that she is the only Canadian in the top four.
Barrel racing is a true team effort, according to White, who said that she raised and trained her seven-year-old horse Racey herself. She added that Racey was the youngest horse at the finals.
“Besides athleticism, a good race horse needs to have a lot of ‘try,’ a big heart, willingness and grit,” she said.
“I share that with her.”
There were no ‘nerves’ for her this time around; she said she felt very excited and fortunate to be running for that kind of money.
“I was feeling very blessed. When you work very hard and when it works out, you just really appreciate all the effort that went into it,” she explained.
“I knew Racey had a good chance of doing very well, and that it was up to me to set her up to win.”
She said that Racey is a complicated, intuitive horse and was difficult to train.
She also stated that her more than 25 year experience as a trainer and rider really came into play.
“It really prepared me for this one,” she noted.
“A lot of people would have gotten frustrated with her. She’s ‘electric,’ and when you ask her for an inch she gives you a mile.
“She doesn’t know how to do anything halfway, and puts everything she has into everything she does,” White continued.
“She’ll lay down her life for me.”
Racey knows when she’s done well, according to White.
“She’s very sensitive: when you raise your voice to her she knows you’re upset. When she does well I hug her and I think she knows,” she said.
“She tries so hard and is so special to me.”
White and her sister Alison Everett grew up around horses, with two parents immersed in rodeo.
“We were on horseback when we were one or two years old,” she said.
She explained that Linda Geensen from Williams Lake made her a good luck beaded pouch to put on her saddle.
“My sister Alison put a photo of my mom inside,” she said.
“So, I might have had a little help on this one — an angel beside me.”
White is currently headed to Arizona where she rides and trains during the winter.