Carli Wardrop, who was born and raised in Houston, is the 2018 BC Rodeo Association’s (BCRA) ladies barrel racing season leader.
She has recently received her saddle at a BCRA banquet in Williams Lake.
With the goal of becoming season champion, the committed 20-year-old decided to spend her entire summer in Quesnel so that she could be closer to where the majority of rodeos were taking place. She worked for a landscape company during the week, rode her horse every night after work, and attended rodeos on the weekends.
“This year Carli set a goal to win the BCRA and she accomplished this goal by working hard, showing good sportsmanship, being a positive role model and always staying humble while doing so,” said her parents Ian and Carrie Wardrop.
“Winning BCRA ladies barrel racing title is a huge accomplishment,” they continued. “It involves travelling all over the province to compete against the top barrel racers in B.C. It requires dedication, and keeping her horse in top shape to compete at this level.”
This summer Carli also had the chance to run as an alternate at the Williams Lake Stampede Pro Rodeo, placing seventh out of 60 of the top pro women in Canada.
Her horse Hot Dawg also stood out this summer, winning ladies barrel racing horse of the year.
“My horse Hot Dawg is amazing,” said Carli. “He has a quirky personality but loves his job and gave me 110 per cent.”
Although Carli started competing more frequently in the past few years, she has been participating in rodeos since she was little.
“I come from a rodeo family; my first rodeo was probably when I was five on a little pony,” she described. “The last few years I’ve been doing more [rodeos], and this summer I’ve done the most.”
Currently living in Kelowna, where she studies kinesiology, Carli hopes to combine her passions by working with rodeo sports medicine in the future.
But to her, rodeo is more than a hobby – it’s a lifestyle.
“I have a huge family through it,” she said. “I can go anywhere in B.C., and if my car brakes down there’s always someone within an hour that can help me out; it’s a really connected community.”
”What I like most about it is the partnership between me and my horse, and the connection we have out there doing our best.”
Being a BCRA season leader will now allow Carli to compete in pro rodeos in Alberta next year.
“I am really looking forward to next summer,” she said. “I am so grateful that I have the chance to do what I love and be supported by amazing family, friends, and community.”