Christmas is coming early for Airdrie’s littlest cowboy this year.
For the first time in his young rodeo career, nine-year-old Gavin Rose of Airdrie has qualified for the Junior World Finals, which will be held in Fort Worth, Tex. from Dec. 2 to 8.
“He’s progressed amazingly,” said Rose’s mother, Nikki. “He’s now riding saddle bronc as well, so now he rides bareback, saddle bronc and miniature bulls.”
According to Nikki, travel across the border between Canada and the United States is currently possible by flying, and the two plan to travel to Texas Nov. 29. Rose will compete in two events at the Junior World Finals under the peewee age category, against cowboys aged six to nine years old. He would compete in the bareback and saddle bronc events. Upon arrival back in Canada, Nikki said the two will receive rapid COVID-19 testing at the Calgary International Airport, and will be self-isolating until they receive their test results.
Rose has enjoyed a stellar 2020 season, leading the peewee age division for the Crooked Horn Canadian Junior Roughstock.
“He’s the 2020 Canadian champion for all three events – bareback, saddle bronc and bulls, and he was the season leader for all three as well,” Nikki said.
Another highlight of 2020 for Rose was qualifying for the International Miniature Bullriders Association (IMBA) finals, according to Nikki, which will be held Dec. 7 to 12 in Mesquite, Tex. This year marked his third time qualifying for the competition.
Because Fort Worth and Mesquite are just 75 kilometres apart, and because the events will be held consecutively, Nikki said Rose would be able to compete in both rodeos.
While he competes in three events, Rose said his favourite is miniature bull riding, because there is a “predictable pattern” to the animal’s bucking. He said he likes travelling and getting to stay in hotels when he competes.
According to Nikki, Rose practises twice a week – once a week on big horses, to work on his balance and core strength, and once a week on rough stock, including bareback and saddle. Nikki said they drive out to Rimbey to practice.
One aspect of rodeo that keeps Rose engaged, according to Nikki, is the sport’s tight-knit sense of community.
“Even this year, even with how we had to socially distance and everything, it was still nice that Gavin still had the group he’s very close to at rodeo, who would space themselves out on the chutes to be able to be there to help him and still give him that encouragement,” she said. “He’s got it now that he’s got a good enough relationship with the older riders so that they’re able to fully help him on. I don’t have to be right there all the time.”