Diehl has never ridden a bucking horse in her life.
Not even for a practice ride.
She has ridden saddle horses for years and competed in 4H shows, but she knows she is getting into a whole different scene with tonight’s exhibition ride.
Due to her lack of experience, the “you’re crazy” comment has been coming up a lot.
“The majority of people have actually said that,” said Diehl. “I am still doing it.
“Certainly, I am not backing down. I am well aware of the risks.
“As it is an exhibition ride, I am not quite as fearful as I would be had I entered the draw. I guess a lot of people doubt, but a lot more people are supportive and encouraging. That is what I try to focus on.”
Diehl, who teaches at a kindergarten to Grade 9 school in Waldeck, Sask., wanted to try riding in a roughstock event after watching her boyfriend and Medicine Hat product Les Woods ride bulls and bareback horses.
“Saddle bronc is my favourite event to watch, and I wanted to give it a try,” said Diehl, who made her decision to ride in the spring. “I’ve been thinking of it for a while.”
Wayne Webber, who is the chairman and a long time organizer of the Box Springs Rodeo, believes Diehl could be the first female to ever ride in the saddle bronc event at Box Springs, which celebrates its 30th anniversary this weekend.
“As far as the saddle bronc and the horse riding events go, it is definitely is unique and a feature that we are looking forward to,” he said.
Webber added that women have competed in the roughstock events in the past. He believes the last competitor may be Rae-Leigh Pederzolli, who took part in steer riding and junior bull riding. Pederzolli is best remembered for being the Medicine Hat Exhibition and Stampede queen back in 2008.
That said, Webber is interested to see what Diehl will do.
“It is pretty exciting actually,” said Webber. “I am just kind of looking forward to it as much as everybody else.”
Since this will be Diehl’s first ride, it was decided her ride would be an exhibition one, so she won’t be a part of the regular draw for the saddle bronc. She will be matched up with a horse named Neon Moon from Richards Rodeo, who are the stock contractors for the Box Springs event.
Neon Moon is an older bucking horse that has been recently retired.
“We definitely don’t want to put her in any more danger than is necessary,” said Webber. “She wanted something that would give her a little bit of a try.”
Heading into today’s ride, Diehl, who stands 5-foot-8, said she is a bit nervous, but she feels as ready as any first time rider can be. She will be wearing Woods’ flak jacket, chaps borrowed from one rider and spurs from another rider.
She will also use her mouth guard from when she took part in boxing this past year. Diehl said she has received a lot of support and tips from various riders on what to do. With those tips also comes encouragement.
“Everybody that I have been talking to has been really very reasonable,” said Diehl. “They are telling me, ‘Go out there and give it your best effort. It is really brave that you are getting on in the first place.’
“I am just eager to give it a try and see how things go.”
The Box Springs Rodeo will conclude on Saturday with a slack draw at 8 a.m. and final go-round at 7:30 p.m.
[Doug Richards riding out to check
studs on the Sweetwater Ranch.
photo copyright Terri Mason]