For Monica Sellars, the only feeling as exhilarating as racing a horse is planning one.
Sellars is the organizer and brain behind the wildly popular Wild Cowgirls Race featured at the Williams Lake Stampede.
This summer will mark the sixth annual race, which as the name suggests features all female riders. On April 28 entries were opened for the 2019 race, and filled up in under two hours with 24 riders.
“Every year we’ve just gotten bigger and bigger,” Sellars said of the race. “It feels great. I’m very happy where it’s went, it’s where I wanted it to be when I first started it.”
Sellars, who owns and operates her own farrier business, came up with the idea for an all-female race in 2014 after the Pony Express Race she raced in failed to run in 2013 due a lack of entries.
She got approval from Stampede directors to run four flat races into the arena over the rodeo weekend, with no overall winner. The race thrilled fans, many of whom came just to see local cowgirls race, and the rest is history.
In 2015, Sellars expanded the race to 660 yards — the perfect length for a quarter horse or thoroughbred to compete. Sixteen riders entered looking for a chance to be the overall champion, and Sellars even pitched in the winning buckle.
Janice Sapp also came on board in 2015, helping Sellars to shape and evolve the race into what it is today.
Kaitlyn McClure won first place overall championship that year, followed by Lyndy Frieson in 2016.
In 2017 McClure took the championship again, and in 2018 Frieson almost won back bragging rights with a championship race that saw a near-photo finish at the end.
“It was a hell of a race,” Sellars said, noting McClure captured the championship in 2018 again.
McClure won’t be racing in 2019 but Frieson is one of five local women who signed up before all the entries filled, with the race attracting competitors from across B.C. and Alberta.
“I like to keep it first come, first serve.”
So what’s the secret to winning? A fast horse and a skilled rider, according to Sellars.
“Conditioning is everything, it’s like any athlete,” she said. “And really, you have to be gutsy to do it.”
This year, Sellars is very excited to be able to offer race buckles for the daily winners sponsored by Irish Excavating and Contracting and Longhorn Fencing, prizes for all riders, a buckle for the reserve champion sponsored by Aspell Contracting and a $2,200 championship saddle sponsored by Ellis Cattle Co. for the overall ‘Race for the Saddle’ winner.