Osoyoos barrel racer goes up against best in the U.S.

Osoyoos barrel racer goes up against best in the U.S.

Nevada Dynneson, her mother Deonna and her horse Savannah recently headed for Wyoming, to compete for the second consecutive year in the U.S. National High School Rodeo championships. (Keith Lacey photo)

By Keith Lacey

In the wonderful world of rodeo, you often have to travel thousands of miles for a few seconds of glory.

But that’s all part of the game for Nevada Dynneson, 17, who is one of Canada’s top high school barrel racers.

Nevada and her mother Deonna left recently for Gillette, Wyoming, which is once again hosting the U.S. National High School Rodeo Finals.

Nevada is the defending British Columbia high school girls’ champion in barrel racing and one of Canada’s top competitors in the unique sport that sees horse and rider navigate as quickly as possible a course featuring several barrels.

Nevada competed at last year’s American high school championships and finished 23rd out of a field of 180 or so young female barrel racers.

The difference between first and 23rd place was less than half a second.

“Literally every millisecond counts,” said Nevada’s proud mother. “The top 20 girls move on to the finals and Nevada missed out on being in the top 20 by fractions of a second.

“The difference between first place and 25th place is less than three tenths of a second, so that shows just how competitive the sport has become.”

To become a provincial high school rodeo champion, Nevada and her horse Savannah spend endless hours training and practicing at Indian Grove Riding Stables in Osoyoos.

“I’m here almost every single day,” said Nevada, who recently completed Grade 11 at Osoyoos Secondary School. “We do a lot of trail work to build conditioning with my horse … as Savannah gets older, she doesn’t like being in the ring as much as she used to. What you don’t want to do is burn out your horse, especially with the intense heat we get here in Osoyoos.”

Competing against the top female high school barrel racers in the United States is a challenge Nevada welcomes.

“Only the top four from each state qualifies for nationals, but they are amazing riders as rodeo is almost like a religion, especially in the southern states,” she said. “When you’re up against the top four girls from all of Texas, you know you’re facing the best of probably 1,000 talented riders

“The level of talent at nationals is unbelievable.”

Nevada said her main goal is to make the top 20 and compete in the final two days of competition.

“I was close last year by finishing 23rd and I’d love to make the top 20 and get to the finals weekend,” she said. “That’s my goal.”

It takes roughly 17 seconds for the top competitors to navigate the course in Wyoming and the standings are based on totalling the time from two runs, she said.

The top 20 girls move on to the finals and get two more runs to determine a champion.

In order to improve her technique, Nevada’s mother videotapes most of her training runs to try to find areas where they can save precious time.

“The difference between winning and losing at this level is so close that you have to try and find every advantage you can,” said Deonna. “By videotaping her training runs, we’ve been able to find little things she can improve on and try and find that perfect ride.

“Every little error costs you tenths of a second and it all adds up when you get to this elite level.

On their way to Gillette, Nevada and her mom planned to attend a rodeo in Cody, Wyoming in a venue that hosts rodeo events seven nights a week during the summer months.

“It will be a good chance to get in one final training run before nationals,” said Deonna. “The facility in Cody is amazing because they host rodeo seven nights a week and the stands are packed every single night.”

After competing at the high school nationals in Gillette, Nevada and her mom planned to drive straight to Nanton, Alberta for the Canadian National High School Rodeo championships.

Deonna, who competes part time with her daughter on the Canadian professional rodeo circuit, said she couldn’t be prouder of her daughter.

“She’s a very hard worker and has earned all of her success,” she said.

With one more year of high school remaining, Nevada said she and her mother will be returning to the U.S. high school finals once again next July.