By Justin Seward
Two Eagle Butte High School Alberta High School Rodeo District 1 athletes have landed themselves in familiar territory this week.
Both Grade 10 Emily Lehr and Grade 11 students Walker Long earned berths at the Alberta High School Rodeo Provincials in Ponoka from May 30-June 2 for the first time at the senior level.
Lehr squeezed into eighth place out of 10 to qualify for the provincial event in barrel racing in the District 1 qualifiers through the season.
“I was sitting third and a had a couple bad runs but ended placing eighth and that still made me go,” she said.
“It’s (nerve wracking) because you try to do your best at each rodeo to make sure you go to provincials. Just a lot of commitment and everything.”
For her to stay sharp on the saddle, it’s a matter of doing a lot of riding at home and routine by taking care the horse and making sure the animal is at its best.
“I go to some girls for some help, like couple of my friends, they’re siblings and uncles do pro rodeo. I end up going to their place to get some one-on-one help,” she said.
“Other then that, it’s riding at home with my mom.”
She has been doing high school rodeo for three years where she made it to junior provincials and on the senior stage it will be her second trip.
“Just be confident with how you want to do,” said Lehr.
“It’s like every other run, it’s no different. It’s very different from just a regular rodeo. There’s functions that go on. There’s banquests and then you have a formal introduction to everyone there.”
As she makes the jump, she feels the older you get the better rider you become and it comes down to who rides and practices the most to determine who wants to be in that Top 10 more.
Long qualified by finishing at the top the heap in the high school team roping divisions with his partner Brady Brost from Saskatchewan.
“It was alright,” said Long.
He made the provincials last two years, while he also made nationals in his Grade 8 junior rodeo year down in Tennessee.
“I just try not think about it too much and keep your mind on what your there to do,” he said.
“What happens after provincials, I just kind of rope my steer and move on to the next one.”
He took up team roping because of his dad and his friends participating in the event.
The Top 5 participants in each category go to Canadians in Merrit, B.C. from July 26-28, while the Top 4 go to nationals from July 14-20 in Rock Srpings, Wyo.