Following her passion and family traditions, a Ponoka cowgirl made her debut run at the Battle River High School Rodeo Sept. 7 and 8 — amid the mud, veteran competitors and fans.
Emily Massing has been competing in rodeos for the last eight years and riding even longer. For her, the transition from pleasure to competition was a natural progression.
“My cousin had horses and I rode with her. I just started riding and I liked it,” Massing explained.
Working with the animals is something she was drawn to and breakaway roping developed into Massing’s favourite event. Because the passion was there she began performing best in that event.
“It takes teamwork with your horse, you have to actually participate. It’s not just your horse doing all the work,” said Massing, who rides Rockstar during breakaway roping.
Massing didn’t ride away from the weekend with any wins and wasn’t earning the points she’d hoped to but that didn’t discourage her. “My weekend isn’t going that great but it could be worse. I’m just going to do what I do.”
For those on the rodeo circuit, the sport presents more of a community atmosphere than what’s felt at other athletic events, says Massing.
“I like it because people are really good to each other. A lot of sports you stick with just your team or just your parents, rodeo isn’t like that. This sport, it’s kind of like a whole big family,” said Massing.
While they may clap and cheer for each other after a ride, those in the arena aren’t holding back. Even between Massing and older sister Jenny, the competition is present.
However, it’s in good fun and the sisters are always there to support each other. “When we’re having trouble in the roping pen we’ll give each other tips . . . Analyze each other’s shots.”
Massing, who entered Grade 9 this year, says autumn can be an especially busy time but because high school rodeos don’t run after September there’s plenty of time to balance life and school.
Massing won’t be using her down time to rest and plans on playing basketball and competing in cross-country running.
While it’s still too early to lay definite plans, Massing thinks she’s going to continue with rodeo after she graduates but in what capacity she isn’t yet sure. “ (It) depends on how good I get, I guess.”