Real ranches, rodeos and cattle drives aren’t just preserving the frontier spirit, they’re actively practising it.
Much the same can be said for a couple of young cowpokes, living the dream on the escarpment carved out in the western region of Manitoba.
The Nykoliation family of Crandall has been cattle ranching for over 40 years, currently operating a 450-head cow-calf operation with an extra 500 head on feed through the winter.
And for anyone who knows the cattle industry, a few great roping hands come in handy, upon doctoring a sick or injured animal on the open range or perhaps, more commonly known as a pasture in our neck of the woods.
Brothers Ty and Lane Nykoliation were born into that lifestyle, thanks to parents, Allan and Carolyn. With their father enjoying the camaraderie of team roping – featuring a header and a heeler – it wasn’t long before his passion, his confidence, and his horsemanship abilities were sealed and stamped for approval by the young guns.
The pair says that while their dad enjoys team roping, he didn’t have the opportunity to be a part of the Manitoba High School Rodeo Association (MHSRA), as it formed just after he graduated.
“So, when we asked about joining, our dad was on board and has truly supported us at home practising or on the road competing,” the pair said.
All told the MHSRA presently has 70 members competing in the categories of Junior High and High School. Embracing and promoting the sport of rodeo, the association, affiliated with the National High School Rodeo Association, based in Denver, Colorado, is celebrating its 25th anniversary. Minnedosa has the distinction of hosting the first-ever competition in 1995 with 31 registered student athletes.
Fifteen-year-old Ty, a Grade 9 student, and his younger brother, Lane, 13, in Grade 7, have been involved in the MHSRA for two years. The brothers are enrolled at the Hamiota Collegiate Institute, and have been members of the Lenore 4-H Beef Club and the Manitoba Junior Angus Association.
While Ty solely competes in team roping, as a junior high competitor, Lane is a five-event cowboy, focusing on steer riding, chute dogging, breakaway roping, goat tying, and team roping.
Closer to home the brothers have had their own roping and riding lessons, all thanks to two great brothers in their own right – Lonnie and Shane Brown – who have churned out a number of roping standouts from Brown’s Roping School.
“Easily we can say the Brown family of Lenore and another great roper in Oak Lake — Layne Smith — have truly influenced us and our goals of playing cowboy,” the pair said.
It can be said rodeo is the most unpredictable sport, however, what it gives back to a young athlete is indeed worthy despite the cost to com- pete. For the Nykoliation lads involvement has instilled work ethic, commitment, grit and try, to name a few life lessons, but personally they added others.
“I feel the sport spells out independence, as individuals you are the only one in control of how well you do in an event,” said Lane. “Basically, you can’t ride on the coattails of a team.”
On the other hand, Ty, who solely competes in the event where a partner comes in handy, he pencilled down “teamwork” was something rodeo was teaching him.
“In team roping it’s important to work as a team and encourage your partner,” Ty said. “By focusing on boosting each other up after a good run versus not pointing out mistakes on a miss is a great confidence booster in preparation for the next competitive run.”
Truly, the Nykoliation family faithfully up- holds and uplifts the spirit of the Old West, with skills used in the rodeo arena also put into practice at home, handling cattle from horseback, roping the odd animal, and being involved in all aspects of ranch life.