The Calamity Cowgirls spent the past four summers entertaining crowds throughout Saskatchewan, North Dakota and Montana with their riveting trick riding skills.
And while they won’t be performing this summer, that hasn’t stopped them from passing on their love of entertaining to young and aspiring riders.
Founding members Marci LeBlanc of Outram and Cashlyn Krecklau from Noonan, N.D., hosted a trick riding camp Tuesday and Wednesday at the Ross L-7 Ranch south of Estevan.
“It went awesome,” said LeBlanc. “Lots of little girls are out learning the sport that we love, so it’s been really fun.”
The Calamity Cowgirls were formed by LeBlanc, Krecklau and sisters Carlee Ross and Cassidy Ross. They performed first time in 2015, with both horse and rider sporting bright costumes, and impressed audiences at fairs and rodeos with their ability to execute stunts at high speeds while riding their horses.
While Carlee Ross left the group a couple of years later, the remaining trio continued to entertain the crowds as their popularity grew. Cassidy Ross had to drop out this year because she is in university now, and had commitments related to her schooling this summer.
“We definitely went way further than I ever thought would happen,” said LeBlanc. “I never thought we’d be performing at professional rodeos like we did.”
The decision not to perform this summer was a difficult one, but LeBlanc said they knew Cassidy couldn’t pass up an opportunity to get a good experience this summer. LeBlanc also had an old hockey injury that flared up.
“I didn’t heal properly, and then it got worse as I started trick riding,” said LeBlanc. “We were still being safe, but I couldn’t commit to my tricks as much as I should have been able to. It’s definitely not a one-person show, and we built up our show as our show.”
LeBlanc said she enjoyed being on the road and meeting people, and doing it with her friends.
“I loved the thrill of each show,” said LeBlanc. “It was just a feeling that’s hard to explain how much fun it was. Right before there was the adrenaline rush, the loud music, the horses getting excited – it was so much fun.”
Her favourite stunt was the vault – when she would jump off the horse and swing back on and around the horse’s neck. Each show she did the manoeuvre a couple of times.
The success of the Calamity Cowgirls is also a testament to the relationship that exists between horse and rider.
“The horses made all of our dreams come true. They’ve shown us what hard work is, because they don’t always co-operate as you hope, but you work through it. They’re just like humans, they all have their bad days some times.”
Not only did the riders come to trust their horses, but the horses alleviated the concerns of the parents regarding the routines.
LeBlanc admits it’s tough not to perform this year, and she felt that desire to perform when she attended the Estevan Fair in June.
Regardless of whether the Calamity Cowgirls have performed publicly for the last time, LeBlanc is grateful for all the support they have received the past few years.
Now they want to see other girls take up trick riding. Seven people attended the camp that LeBlanc and Krecklau hosted, which is down from 10 a year ago, but they had one less instructor this year.
Participants learn the fundamentals of trick riding.
“You learn a lot about safety, a lot about patterning … and then they learn all of the beginner tricks, the easier ones to do, how to prep your horse to be a trick riding horse ... and then a basic overview of what it’s like.”
Young people were receptive to what Krcklau and LeBlanc had to say. LeBlanc described the smiles on their faces as “priceless.”
It takes a lot of practice and they have to pay attention, and be determined, but it is something that requires quick learning.
The weather wasn’t a factor either. While Estevan received about three inches of rain on Tuesday, the participants were learning indoors.
“They have a big indoor arena that we’ve always ridden at,” said LeBlanc.
Last year’s camp generated a lot of positive feedback, so the Calamity Cowgirls decided to do it again. Three of the campers participated last year.
LeBlanc hopes that some of them will carry on the Calamity Cowgirls legacy.
“I have one student who has been going for a couple of years now, and I’m pretty sure she’s going to take it all the way. It’s cool to see what we all worked so hard for, to see it passed down to younger kids, and to see them enjoying it as much as we did.
“It’s always been really fun, but I remember when first starting, I was the kid with the big smile on her face, too, and couldn’t wait to do it again.”
They also hope to have a clinic in the U.S. this year, because Krecklau is from North Dakota, and they have had people asking them to come down and teach young Americans about how to be trick riders.