By Yvonne Dick
“Two hundred and fifty riders, all lined up in the field,” Dee Butterfield describes the group photograph taken during last weekend’s 2010 Dee Butterfield Alumni Classic weekend. “It was really something to see.”
With 400 entries into the once in a lifetime competition, all levels from professional to youth as young as seven were represented from the 40 years of barrel racing clinics Butterfield has held.
“This clinic was a celebration of my hitting the 40-year teaching milestone,” says Butterfield, “A once in a lifetime, only one of its kind in Canada event.”
Rodeo runs in the family for Dee Butterfield. Husband Craig is a nine-time Canadian Finals Rodeo steer wrestling qualifier; son Chance finished 14th in the 2009 Canadian Finals Rodeo in steer wrestling; and daughter Brook Robertson was Miss Rodeo Canada 1998. Dee Butterfield can definitely hold her own.
Raised in British Columbia, and a horse trainer from a young age, Butterfield has held clinics teaching others the sport of barrel racing since the age of 18 back in Anaham Lake. She was one of the first Canadian barrel racers to qualify for the National Finals Rodeo in 1975. Past president of the Alberta Barrel Racing association, Butterfield was instrumental in getting the rule passed that barrel racing prize money would equal the other five rodeo events at professional rodeos. Butterfield holds four Canadian Pro Rodeo Association season leader titles, qualifying for the National Finals Rodeo and winning a Canadian Championship in 1992.
Also a horse breeder, Butterfield is a 25-year member/breeder in the Alberta Quarter Horse Association and past board member of AQHA. Co-ordinator of the Ponoka Stamped opening ceremonies for 20 years, Butterfield’s big passion remains teaching.
“I’ve always had a passion to teach, even when I was young,” says Butterfield.
Her 5,000 or so clinics have taken her as far as Hawaii and Australia. Previous students include Lindsay Sears, 2008 World Barrel Racing Champion, and current Canadian Barrel Racing Champion Gaylene Buff.
The Alumni Classic saw participants such as Coleen Duggan who went to Butterfield’s first clinic and is still in the amateur and pro rodeo circuit today. Participants enjoyed a barbecue, pancake breakfast, wine and cheese social and the chance to win prizes.
The 5D barrel racing competition, with a minimum $10,000 total purse, offered alumni the chance to meet and trade knowledge and stories about the barrel racing life.
Butterfield says, “It’s exciting to see them learning, and reaching their goals, to be having fun and to be a part of it.”