Vernon cowgirls Zoey and Taya Hamming are handy with a rope.
They have a dummy to practice on, but they’d much rather lasso one another.
Taya, 10, demonstrates as she deftly ensnares giggling nine-year-old sister Zoey’s gum-booted ankles on the family dairy farm, tucked in behind O’Keefe Ranch.
The moment highlights not only their burgeoning rodeo skills, but also the joy they bring to the sport, and the fun they have with each other.
Zoey wrapped up a stellar season by winning the B.C. Rodeo Association (BCRA) Pee Wee barrel racing in Quesnel, and was named B.C. Little Britches Rodeo All-Around Champion in Barrier. She won a beautiful saddle for the latter.
Taya was runner-up for both Top Cowgirl and Best Horse on the Little Britches circuit, and topped the junior roping division in BCRA action.
Zoey, a Grade 4 student at Vernon Christian School, competes in barrel racing, pole bending, goat tying and dummy roping. Her equine sidekick is GG (short for Grandpa’s Girl), a seven-year-old quarter horse. The two have a blast competing.
“She can jump also, and I can compete in everything on her and she goes really fast,” beamed Zoey, adding the farm chores and upkeep of GG are far outweighed by the thrill of competition.
“Sometimes it’s a little hard when I have to fork her poo and feed her, but it all works out in the end when I get to go and do rodeos.”
Taya, who is in Grade 5 at Vernon Christian, gets to compete on two horses. She uses Breezy, her father Dave’s horse, for roping, and rides Purple for the other events.
“We bought him with that name,” smiled Taya. “She (former owner) always called him Yellow, but her friend said ‘You can’t call him Yellow, it’s too boring.’ So she called him Purple. She was going to change it (again), but he’s too famous for it now.”
The Hamming clan covers a lot of ground in a season – Dave is a roper and mother Skye does barrels and roping – making rodeo stops in places like Merritt, Armstrong, Quesnel, Prince George, Chilliwack, Princeton, Clinton and 100 Mile House.
Even in the offseason, Taya and Zoey work their horses a couple of times a week to keep them from getting out of shape. They sometimes go bareback riding after school. They also spend time in the riding ring at O’Keefe.
Of all the events she competes in, Taya likes barrels the best, and for good reason.
“Barrels we do a lot and it’s one of my favourite events because you can make it to the NFR,” she said. “I want to make it to the National Finals Rodeo for the whole world.”