Inspiring Women of the West

Here are some of the West’s courageous, compassionate, shoot-for-the-moon women, who each give back to their community, sport and animals with a passion that is inspirational.

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Photo by Deanna Kristensen.

Living Each Day to the Fullest

Nancy Csabay, Taber, Alta.

Talk about a comeback. When six-time Canadian Finals Rodeo qualifier, Nancy Csabay received a diagnosis of breast cancer in 2013, the 47-year-old cowgirl chose a radical bilateral mastectomy and then went about the business of living.

In 2015, she took the country by storm. She qualified for the CFR, won the Pro Rodeo Canada Season Leader Award, the CFR Average, the CFR Top Gun Award, Cowgirl of the Year and the coveted National Championship title. To top it off, Nancy’s homegrown 11-year-old mare Little Miss Wicked was voted in as the 2015 CPRA Barrel Horse with the Most Heart.

“I think there is still more for me to do,” she smiles. “Maybe it’s in a different pen, where it is not just about barrel racing.”

The logistics of barrel racing are simple, she explains. “But gaining the ability to find clarity, mental awareness, and physical strength was the biggest reward of all.”

Without her husband Tony and daughter Kate, she says, she wouldn’t be where she is today. For Nancy, barrel racing is not about buckles or chasing rodeo dreams, it’s about being authentic, being present, and living each day to the fullest.

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Stacey, Helen, Cheryl, Dallas and Pat. Dallas confides, “We do have a couple of men who have been involved for about five years. Cheryl’s husband, Gordon, has been there through thick and thin, and is our chief go-to person.” Photo by gerryfrederickphotography.com

Bucking Tradition

Cranbrook Pro Rodeo Committee, Cranbook, B.C.

In 1986 a group of “horsey people” from around Cranbrook, B.C., staged an amateur rodeo as a Wycliffe Exhibition Association (WEA) fundraiser. It wasn’t much of a fundraiser — they cleared $90. At the WEA meeting, Dallas Mackie caused a kerfuffle when she suggested switching to a pro rodeo. Many washed their hands of it but they authorized Dallas and Association president Artha Campsall to explore the possibility.

The two ladies recruited friends and formed, quite possibly, the world’s first all-female rodeo committee.

As a group, Dallas, Artha, Marlene McMann, Anna Mae Gartside and Psyche Brown decided to go pro. In 1987, they produced a wildly successful rodeo. Wayne Vold supplied the stock — he still does. Within three years, Anna Mae and Psyche left the committee; they were replaced by Pat Armstrong and Cheryl Olsen. Helen Hannah came on board 22 years ago and runs the timed event end. Dallas recalled, “Originally we had volunteers on the days of the rodeo (beer garden, concessions, dance, etc.) Still do of course, but that is how we got Stacey Coleman. She took over the admission gate about 20 years ago and has done it ever since.”

Over the years, they built a fine facility at Wycliffe Park, complete with a covered grandstand. Dallas chuckled as she admitted, “We worked together out there, but we always inveigled our husbands to do the physical work.”

There’s been a lot of water under the bridge since 1987 and life isn’t always fair. Artha and Marlene have passed on, others have been widowed, they’ve tragically lost a son and a nephew, and the “C” word has been mentioned a few times. But they’ve stuck together through it all. As Dallas humbly related, “Our core group is really close, we’re each other’s support system.”

In 2005, the ringleader, Dallas, was surprised to be named the CPRA’s Committee Person of the Year, and in her unrehearsed acceptance speech, she cussed her committee for nominating her. There were no hard feelings though because they’re still all-in, and this August will mark the 30th Annual Cranbrook Pro Rodeo.

You can read more profiles in the February/March 2016 issue of Canadian Cowboy Country magazine. To subscribe, click here or call Kendra at 1-800-943-7336.

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