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Weekend at Pritchard Rodeo

Most Okanagan residents enjoy the warm weather, lake life, and sandy beaches on a summer weekend. But not if you’re a rodeo contestant. We seek out a different kind of sand on the weekend, in the form of a rodeo arena.

This weekend took us to Pritchard rodeo, a rodeo sanctioned with the BC Rodeo Association. The BCRA is celebrating its 30th year as an association, with Pritchard Rodeo in its 24th year.

One of my favourite parts of these rodeo weekends is the comradery of the sport. Driving down the windy, dirt drive into the rodeo grounds I am met by numerous waves and smiling faces. Its 34 degrees, dry and dusty...but those of us who love this sport wouldn’t be anywhere else.

I find a parking spot, with an attempt to have some shade for my horses. Shade is a rare occurrence at this rodeo.

As I am unloading my 3 equine partners, a man walking by says “3 horses? Are you racing ALL of them?”

I giggle a little to myself.

“No sir,” I reply, “Just one horse today. The other two are here for the experience! They’re young and learning.”

Sure, it’s a lot of work hauling 3 horses. But there’s only one way to get the future superstars ‘seasoned’, as we say in the barrel racing world. And that is to take them along, ride in the arena if you can, let them see the sights and hear all the sounds that come with a rodeo performance.

My colt, Arrow, is taking well to travelling. As the rodeo performance begins, the crowd roars and the announcer welcomes the grand entry into the arena. Arrow doesn’t even blink. He’s resting one leg, head down, eyes closed. I think he might just make a rodeo horse.

Walking to the office to pay my entry fees, I pass an old friend. “So Maddi, who’s getting the call today?”

I have been running two different horses, sometimes deciding the day of the rodeo which one I’ll run that day.

“Old faithful today!” I reply.

Grinch is my ‘old faithful’. I’ve owned her 6 years now. We’ve had our fair share of ups and downs, as any horse and rider team does. For years, she lived up to her name! But after a lot of hard work, some fights, some tears, and a lot of time...we seem to finally be making consistent runs.

I knew we needed to be a low 17 second run to place. Before I got on Grinch’s back, I told her “You’re the best one”, and hugged her neck, like I always do. We went into the arena, determined. Running old faithful was a wise choice. Let me tell you, there is no greater feeling than hearing the announcer say “We have a new leader!”.

That rodeo camaraderie once again was solidified for me. As I left the arena, I received smiles and a few high five’s from my fellow competitors. I love how we can all compete against each other, yet still be happy for one another’s success.

We held that fast time, until the last 5 girls when a good friend of mine bumped us down to second place. The best part is, she was one of the girls smiling and high fiving me as I left the arena. Today was her turn to win.

I can’t be the only one who thrives off living on the road, and would rather be travelling than at home. As I packed up to head home on that sunny Sunday afternoon, I closed my eyes for a second and smiled. This sport isn’t an easy one, and is full of ups and downs. But I’m already excited to do it all over again next weekend.

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