By Kevin J. Sabo
For Ponoka News
Thirteen-year-old barrel racer Janae McDougall, one of many junior racers from the Ponoka area, has had quite the summer.
Competing in the Alberta Junior High School Rodeo Association during the spring and summer, Janae entered the barrel racing provincials, which took place in Nanton during the beginning of June, in second place in her district.
“At provincials, she won the first round and placed in the other two rounds,” said mom Jill McDougall.
“She won the average and was the provincial champion. That qualified for the nationals in Des Moines, Iowa, at the end of June.”
Because of the closed border, Jill had to drive down to Iowa on her own with Janae’s horse, Bugs, while Janae flew down with other competitors.
“I had to pick her up from the airport,” said Jill. “We were down there for 10 days.”
Janae was one of 150 competitors in the junior nationals, (and one of 14 from Canada) an event which brought the top four racers from each province and state — including Alaska and Hawaii — together to compete on the world stage.
“(Janae) ended up making the short-go,” said Jill.
“She was sixteenth to come back in the short-go, and she came in thirteenth in the world, on a horse that is 21-years old called ‘Bugs.’”
The format of nationals had all 150 competitors run the cloverleaf three times in the ‘long-go,’ and then the top 20 racers were brought back for the ‘short-go.’
After making their way home and quarantining in their camper for 10 days under the COVID-19 rules, Janae got back in the saddle, competing in the Alberta Barrel Racing Association Finals, held Aug. 23 to 29, in Ponoka at the Calnash Ag Event Centre.
Competing in the second round of the finals, Janae came in first overall for the round, winning prize money and the championship buckle.
“It’s been good. It’s been super fun,” said Janae, talking about the nationals in Des Moines.
“Making the short-go at nationals has been a highlight.”
Overall, Jill is proud of her daughter, and grateful for the experiences that they were able to share this summer.
“It was quite the adventure to get there,” said Jill.
“It wasn’t easy … and I’m glad that we did because the memories Janae made, and the experience and life experience of being on the national stage, (are) important. You don’t always get the opportunity to qualify.”
With the 2021 season behind them, Janae and Bugs are looking forward to next season.