Striving to keep interest of the sport of rodeo at the forefront and ensure its future, the Manitoba High School Rodeo Association continues to offer events geared to the younger ages. Designated rodeos allow students in kindergarten to Grade 5 to participate instead of just watching from the rail.
The Manitoba Little Buckaroo (MLB) rodeos are only featured at some of the MHSRA rodeos — the first being held in Oak Lake in September 2016, with the Westman community hosting another one last September. With between 25 to 40 girls and boys, action is found in calf riding, barrel racing, pole bending, goat tying, goat undecorating, dummy roping, and mechanical bucky riding. For their efforts, the youth are awarded prizes from tack to treats.
Over the 2016-17 year, MLB rodeos were held in four communities — two spring, two fall — including Pierson, Gilbert Plains, Swan River and Oak Lake.
Initially the MLB division started for the siblings of the MHSRA members to see if the interest was there. Soon there was so much outside interest from fellow cowboys and cowgirls, that entry was opened to any youth interested in taking part and promoting the cowboy heritage.
Participation gives these young and talented athletes the spark to become fully involved in the Junior High division of the MHSRA. Focusing on students from Grades 6 to 8, this division came to light within Manitoba in the fall of 2004 at Russell. Much like the MLB program feeding the Junior High, the Junior High has fed the High School division that dates back to 1995 within the province.
A number of Manitoba athletes have represented the province at nationals in the United States and Canadian finals held in the western provinces, and went on to college backed by rodeo scholarships. Today, MHSRA alumni can be found in professional, semi-professional, and amateur rodeo associations.
No matter the division, the MHSRA continues to present the opportunity for contestants to participate and learn about rodeo, encouraging great horsemanship, sportsmanship, and fun, in a family environment.