Trick Riding Down Under

Shelby Pierson performing the Splits to the Neck vault at Australian Extreme Trick Riding Championships, Sydney, Aus. Photo by Stephen Mowbray.

Sydney, Australia’s Royal Easter Show was founded in 1822 and runs for two weeks around Easter time — hence the name. “It was amazing, kind of like our Calgary Stampede,” says competitor Shelby Pierson of Wardlow, Alta.

Shelby’s journey to the Royal Easter Show started last fall on October 12 in Sundre, Alta., when she won the senior division at the Canadian Trick Riding Championship — even though she was young enough for the juniors. That earned the young lady an invitation to compete for the Australian championship.

Team Canada also included Cora Croteau of Sundre, and Strathmore’s Avery Aleman who both qualified for the junior competition.

The girls and their mothers Connie Pierson, Alison Croteau and Christa Aleman, along with coaches Jerri Duce and Ashley Ferguson, arrived in Australia on March 26. They were taken to Heath and Krissy Harris’ ranch in Mount White, New South Wales. Heath is one of Australia’s more famous horsemen — he’s worked on movies like The Man from Snowy River and Phar Lap — and knows his way around. After riding some of his horses, the girls were assigned their mounts. The horses were trained for trick riding, but the girls only had seven days to build a trusting relationship with their equine partners. They enjoyed the Harris’ hospitality all week and worked under the watchful eyes of their coaches.

On April 3, Team Canada travelled 56 kilometres south to Sydney’s Olympic Park. The competition took place in front of a full house of boisterous spectators at the Schmidt Arena. Each of the Canadian youngsters wowed the rowdy audience — Croteau and Aleman finished second and third in the junior category. Then, after some show jumping, the program closed with eight ladies vying for the senior title. When the dust settled the 2015 Australian Senior Extreme Trick Riding Champion was a 15-year-old ranch-raised cowgirl named Shelby Pierson!

Congratulations to everyone involved, you’ve made all of us in Canadian Cowboy Country proud.