Throughout its inception the Manitoba High School Rodeo Association (MHSRA) has left an imprint on many families. For Rae Lyng, a talented Virden cowgirl, the trail to be a rodeo athlete all began thanks to her cousins Jenna and Kaylee Slater, and her grandma, Lynda Lyng, also of Virden.
Beginning with barrels and poles in Grade 6, the Grade 12 student at Virden Collegiate Institute (VCI) is now an all-around cowgirl competing in five events. As much as the rider brings to the table, success is also due to the four-legged athletes, and Lyng sits tall on the back of a big, beautiful 14-year-old buckskin mare named Bucky.
Special mentor missed
“Without rodeo, I would never have been introduced to Casey Brown, a man who became a major role model in the cowboy lifestyle that I fancy,” said Lyng. “Like so many other youth, his words of encouragement helped me improve my riding drastically, and convinced me to begin team roping.”
Brown, 35, was killed in an automobile accident in Hamiota on May 1, 2011, and his drive and passion for the western lifestyle will be forever missed and gratefully cherished by many in the rodeo world.
Lyng was grateful to have had the opportunity to travel to all the Manitoba Rodeo Cowboy Association (MRCA) rodeos with Casey, Darryl Gerrard of Oak River and her dad, and said that Casey helped her with everything from breaking colts, to driving the truck and trailer.
Life on the farm
She also tips her hat to her parents, Cherie and Kelly Lyng. “Without Mom and Dad to support me and provide for me, there is no way I would be able to compete, let alone compete as well as I do. My grandma, Lynda is my support team, and it’s guaranteed that she will be at every rodeo to cheer both myself and younger brother Kelby on.”
Lyng had a one-of-a-kind experience in Gillette, Wyo., when she took on the roll of being a delegate at the National High School Rodeo Finals (NHSRF) in 2011. The experience introduced her to a lot of new people, and she got to participate in the special-event kids’ rodeo.
Lyng shares life on the family farm with her parents, younger brother and older brother Adam Barkley, where they raise a small herd of cattle and about 16 horses. Although her parents don’t compete in rodeo, her dad is a past president of MHSRA, and is picking up roping, while her mom is learning how to barrel race.
For Lyng, high school rodeo emphasizes good sportsmanship, and lifelong friends with a similar interest. Friendships are also made as a member of the Manitoba Barrel Racing Association and the MRCA, and additional friends will be made at Lakeland College in Vermilion, Alta. this fall, where Lyng will be taking environmental sciences. She will also be taking her four-legged rodeo partners — Bucky and a young mare, Nope.
One of Lyng’s memories is showing Iowa kids how “Canucks” kick butt at playing spoons, at a National association event. Her best memory will be of that special man who grew up just down the road at Lenore, and came into her life when she was a Grade 8 student.
“Casey’s knowledge of horses, rodeo and having fun indeed allowed me to reach goals. He wasn’t only a mentor… he was a friend,” said Lyng. “I am reminded of Casey daily, and I am happy that I was with him at his last rodeo, when we both did so well, and we were both truly happy for each other and ourselves. It was a great lasting memory.”