Audrey & Susan




It is an unforgettable image — two women of a certain age racing their horses towards the finish line. For Audrey Westrop and Susan Griffin, riding horses is truly a sister act. Born 13 years apart but united by a lifelong love of horses, they come by it honestly. 

Their dad was Reid Hall, a bronc rider, horseman and, in his younger days, a jockey.

Audrey was born in 1939 when the Halls were farming at Taber, Alta. She was just four years old when her life changed forever. Her father bought her a Shetland pony named Penny.

As she got bigger, so did the horse she rode, moving up to Trinket, who was part Arabian and part Welsh pony. Audrey rode Trinket while looking after cattle for her dad.

Trinket dumped me off every day,” Audrey said. “I was constantly looking for a low spot or a rock…so I could get back on the horse.”

Yet, that gave her experience she would draw on later.

When Audrey got to high school, there was a new sport just starting up that their hired man told her about — it was called barrel racing.

“I’d done a lot of riding to that point with cattle (and) was looking for something different,” she said.

So in the middle of the night, Audrey, who was about 14, set up some barrels in a pasture near the house. With the moon shining brightly, she began her foray into barrel racing.

But competitive barrel racing came later. Her dad inspired her first actual competition. Reid Hall always entered the family in the Taber Rodeo parade. They did some riding and were judged in different classes. Prizes were a dollar and a ribbon, and Audrey won her share. Later in 1963 when they moved to Pincher Creek, they started entering that parade.

High school brought another opportunity. In 1957, Audrey was asked to be a rodeo queen contestant and won. Her duties consisted mainly of performing at the grand entry and waving to the crowd.

From Taber, she went to Medicine Hat for a year where she graduated from high school in 1958. That summer she got a job at the Medicine Hat Exhibition and discovered they too had a rodeo queen contest. A year after winning at Taber, she won again in Medicine Hat. 

Eventually, Audrey found herself at Utah State University, where a cousin let her take a barrel racing horse to Utah. Riding on Tasty Tidbit, Audrey won the Rocky Mountain Region of the National Intercollegiate Rodeo for the 1965–1966 season. 

“I’d never barrel raced,” she said. “But I know how to ride, and I had a good horse (so) I was able to be successful at it.” 

She then married Bob Westrop, who had been the president of the college rodeo club, and they moved to a ranch on the Castle River in southern Alberta. 

Audrey started to compete in horse shows and continued to learn more about riding when she came upon trainer Monte Foreman. 

“It just put a fine touch on what I’d been doing,” she said. “It just made them more precise.” 

Audrey also got involved in the Canadian Equestrian Federation. She earned her Level 1 and 2 so she could put on clinics, then became a director and later president of the Western Riding division. 

At the age of 84, Audrey is still going strong. She still rides, often with her children and grandchildren. Together, 13 in total, they have ridden as a group in the Pincher Creek Parade. She is also blessed with an 80X160 foot indoor arena Bob built for her and continues to train horses. 

A highlight of her season is the annual Golden Age Heritage Horse Show in Claresholm, Alta. 

“I can still ride and compete successfully at that show,” she said. “It’s been really fun, and I get to do it with Susan, my sister. She finally got old enough.” 

Susan attributes their love of horses to their father. 

“He taught us to be horse people,” Susan said. “We always looked to our dad. He was the horseman, the guy who could ride anything.” 

Growing up around Pincher Station and Cowley, her horse was her best friend. 

“That’s who I talked to, who I cried to,” she said.

Then her sister returned to Canada, bought the ranch next to theirs, and Susan spent much of her time with Audrey. 

“She taught me how to work, organize, be honest,” she said. 

Unlike her sister, Susan never barrel raced. Instead, they went to horse shows together, and Audrey took Susan to her first horse clinic. 

“We learned horsemanship together,” she said. 

Now, Susan has reached the point where she too can ride in the Golden Age Heritage Horse Show, where she can compete against Audrey in some events and team up with her in others. 

“It was exciting when we finally got to go together,” she said. 

One event they compete in is the Command class. All the riders are gathered in the arena; a command is issued, and if a rider makes a mistake — they are out. Often, Audrey and Susan are the last two in the class. 

“Sometimes I beat her, and sometimes she beats me,” Susan said. The judge once awarded a tie because neither Audrey nor Susan made a mistake. 

Every year, there is a banquet and dance at the horse show. However, once dinner is done, Susan and Audrey are back at the barn, laying out the pattern for the next day. 

“We enjoy riding together,” Susan said. “I rode horses my whole life. I don’t know what my life would be without horses, and most of my memories are with Audrey.” 

One memory is captured in a photo showing the two horsewomen racing towards the finish line. 

It truly is a sister act.