What makes a rodeo athlete compete?
For Hayden Charney, who began in the rough stock or eight-second world of the sport, there is a lot that goes into being a competitor — both mentally and physically.
“The crowd, the guys behind the chute, fellow competitors and friends all make this sport hard to resist,” said the Rossburn teenager. “The adrenaline that comes before the ride and after a good successful ride is addicting and impossible to quit.”
Bull riding is a dangerous sport, however, this is also why it sparks so much interest and excitement. Younger youth may be competing in the junior steer riding division, where often heifers or cows are used instead of steers, but the ride at times can still find a competitor dangling on the wrong side of the animal with his hand stuck in the bull rope.
Charney, a Grade 10 student at the Rossburn Collegiate Institute, got on his first draw (steer) at the age of 14. Now getting too old and tall for steers, the son of Mark Charney and Thomasina Campbell, will turn his attention to the much stronger and ornery bulls in a quest for a championship over the 2019 season. It won’t be his first championship if secured, as he was the Junior Steer Riding champion of the Heartland Rodeo Association (HRA) in 2017.
“Support from my parents, my friends, fellow competitors, stock contractors, and mentors have truly enriched my life as a rodeo stalwart,” said Charney. “My mom rodeos as well, and it has been nice to be able to travel together down the road from an early age. She also makes sure I get to all the clinics to continue to learn and improve, as bull riding is just as much a mental versus physical game.”
Today, while not competing in the Manitoba High School Rodeo Association (MHSRA), Charney, aiming to become a heavy-duty mechanic after graduation, is a member of the HRA (Manitoba based), and Bull Riders Canada.
“Rodeo instills confidence, hard work, friendship, respect, sportsmanship, and family,” said Charney, who works for Woychyshyn Farms as a general labourer after school and some weekends. “Meeting a lot of people in many different towns is great, as you keep your friends close and your fellow competitors closer.”
Charney rode in front of family and friends in Waywayseecappo last summer, and again this past April, at Top Line Rodeo’s outdoor rough stock event.
Learning as he goes, Charney is grateful for all the help, pats on the back, and assistance in the chutes that allows him to focus on the bulls, dust and mud, and the roar of the crowd.