Each year, the top rodeo competitors from the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association descend upon Las Vegas, Nevada with the hopes of taking home the titles — and top paycheques — at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo (WNFR).
For the first time since 2011, when Alberta’s Lindsay Sears won the World Championship title at the event, a Canadian cowgirl will be looking to take top honours in the barrel racing event.
That woman, is Carman Pozzobon.
The B.C.-based equestrian, who splits her time between Kamloops and Arizona — where she trains in the winter — will be competing at the top-tier event for the first time in her career.
It’s been a long time coming for the talented cowgirl, who hails from a “rodeo family” that included her cousin Ty Pozzobon, a professional bull rider who died in January 2017 from effects related to concussions and Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy.
Pozzobon took a break from her pre-competition prep to chat with Postmedia News about her passion for her sport, her remarkable horse “Ripp” and her strategy for her first WNFR.
Q. When and why did you first get into barrel racing?
A. I was born into a rodeo family. As a kid, I was taught to rope and barrel race and many other events. Barrel racing was what I loved the most, though. I always loved going fast everywhere as a kid. My dad and Aunty Lynn helped me out the most when I was young. She loved every bit of barrel racing. Both of them were very competitive at everything they do, which rubbed off on me — or, it’s just in our blood.
Q. What’s your favourite aspect of the sport?
A. The speed. And bond between you and your horse to make it come together.
Q. Your main horse is a buckskin American Quarter Horse mare named Ripn Lady. She was recently named the Ladies Barrel Racing Horse With the Most Heart by the Canadian Professional Rodeo Association, for the second consecutive year. What’s so special about Ripp?
A. Her huge heart. She tries so hard to do everything top notch. She’s a go-getter.
Q. And what makes you two such a great team?
A. Both of us feed off each other. We spend a lot of time together. She’s pretty much another limb to me. She can sense when things are wrong with me and I sense when things are wrong with her. So, it doesn’t take much for each other to know what each one wants.
Q. You’ve had an amazing few years in professional rodeo, winning the Canadian Finals Rodeo. And, this year, you’re headed to the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas — the first Canadian barrel racer to compete there since 2011. How are you feeling about it all?
A. I’m excited to finally run down that alley. It’s going to be very surreal.
Q. I read that qualifying for the WNFR on a horse you trained has been your dream since you were a kid. What do you think young Carman would say if she knew you’d achieved that goal?
A. Told you, you could do it! Now let’s do it again!
Q. And what would you say to other young riders looking to follow your path?
A. To always have faith in yourself no matter what life throws at you. Where there’s a will, there’s a way.
Q. What’s your strategy for your runs at the WNFR?
A. To just go do what we love and to give ourselves an honest shot each night.
Q. And, lastly, what’s next?
A. After NFR, I’ll be going to the winter rodeos in Texas and trying those again, if all goes well.
The Wrangler National Finals Rodeo takes place Dec. 6-15 at the Thomas Mack Centre in Las Vegas.
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