Lacombe’s own Justine Elliot, 16, will be representing Central Alberta in the Canadian Finals Rodeo (CFR 45) this week in Red Deer.
Elliot, who is a barrel racer, comes into the event ranked 11th after earning $14,167.30 on the pro circuit.
“Considering it is my first one, it is a big deal. Especially since it is Red Deer which is pretty much home for me,” she said.
Elliot began racing seven years ago, after growing up watching her father compete.
“I wanted to do it right from when I was a little kid. It was always a dream of mine to make CFR,” she said
Elliot’s journey to CFR 45 began five years ago when her family purchased her horse Blondie.
“When I got the horse that I knew could run with them,” she said.
Elliot and her family trained Blondie themselves in order to get her to the championship level.
“When we bought her, she wasn’t supposed to be a barrel horse so CFR wasn’t really in my eye at the time,” she said.
Throughout the process, Elliot looked up to heroes in the sport of barrel racing including world champion Lindsay Sears.
“Lindsay Sears is the one that really got me thinking about barrel racing and as I got more into it, I started looking up to all the other girls,” she said,
Being able to win CFR 45, especially at home, would be a dream for Elliot but to do so, she has to overcome reigning Canadian barrel racing champion, Carman Pozzobon, whose earnings of $44,078 has her atop the overall standings.
“Everyone aims to win it, but I am going to try and hopefully make some money. See where that goes,” Elliot said.
Elliot said she is very nervous heading into the week, but expects that to dissipate.
“Once you get in the alleyway the adrenaline starts kicking in and your nerves start going away,” she said, adding regardless of the outcome — she is happy she made it this far.
Elliot added believes this is only the beginning of her barrel racing journey.
“I want to make it to the NFR one day, but for now I will start here and work my way up,” she said.