Sisters set to ride in Little Britches Rodeo

A few months ago, Nevada Jones returned home from competing in a gymkhana and realized she needed a faster horse, what she called a "runner."

The horse also had to be easy for kids to work with while competing in rodeo events.

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With the help of parents Darin and Christine, seven-year-old Nevada didn't have to search too far from their Pineview property.

She hopped on a 12-year-old quarter-horse named Poo Bear that Darin was riding and competed on for years in team roping.

"Poo Bear's got the experience and he's great with kids," said mom Christine.

It was a partnership made in heaven.

In addition to gymkhana, Nevada competes in Little Britches Rodeo events in the junior girls under-10 division. The events include barrel racing, goat tail tying, dummy roping and pole bending. They're designed to introduce participants on a softer level to rodeo events. Goat tying is a precursor to steer wrestling, skills they need for their high school and pro rodeo careers.

Nevada's favourite event is goat tail tying, an event in which she posted a personal-best time of 11.25 seconds at the Little Britches Rodeo in Williams Lake for a fifth-place finish.

"It's really easy, you just (ride down to the goat), hop off your horse, tie a little ribbon around its tail and that's all there is to it," said Nevada.

This weekend, she and her older sister Fallon are competing in the Prince George Little Britches stop in Nukko Lake.

Together, they've found success on the Little Britches B.C. circuit this summer in Williams Lake, 100 Mile House and Merritt. Prince George is the last event prior to the season finale in Barriere on Sept. 19.

Fallon, 10, is in her last year in the junior girls division and has placed in the top-10 with a goal of winning the high point junior title at the end of the year.

In Nukko Lake last year, Fallon won the pole bending and overall high point titles in the junior girls division.

"I'd like to place in every event and be consistent (this weekend)," said Fallon.

She too has an experienced partner underneath her, a 20-year-old quarter-horse named Seeker that she's ridden for two years.

Seeker has also been in the Jones family for years - Christine used to ride him in team roping.

"He gets excited at rodeos," said Fallon. "He knows when it's time to perform.

"He's not a super-passionate horse, but he knows what to do," added Christine. "He works so hard and tries so hard for Fallon."

In 100 Mile House earlier this summer, Fallon and Seeker won the overall junior girls high point title. The prize? A new saddle that's currently in storage because it's too big right now for the Grade 5 Pineview elementary student.

She's also won buckles and blankets thanks to those who sponsor the rodeos.

Nevada, entering Grade 2 at Pineview, has also won cash for her success and is saving it up to buy horse equipment.

Riding horses and competing in rodeos is nothing new for the sisters. With their parents, grandparents, aunt and brother competing in team roping and other events, climbing into a saddle came naturally.

They also compete in other barrel racing and gymkhana events throughout the year to improve their skills and consistency.

When they're not riding, they can be found sparring on the judo mat in the off-season. To stay in shape, they train and compete out of the Prince George Judo Club. Fallon even served as a minor judo official at the 2015 Canada Winter Games.

She holds her orange belt with two green stripes, while Nevada has her yellow belt with three orange stripes.

But rodeo has taught them so much, especially sportsmanship.

"We cheer for each other, we want everybody to do well," said Fallon.

"It's a unique sport," added Christine. "They get excited when each other wins or places. It helps with sportsmanship and camaraderie."

The 13th annual Little Britches Rodeo at the Nukko Lake riding arena gets underway Saturday at 10 a.m. There will be young competitors from around the province competing in junior and senior boys and girls events.

One of seven rodeos on the B.C. circuit, the event is organized by volunteers from the Lakes Community Horse Club.

"Nukko Lake has outstanding volunteers and it takes a lot of preparation to get it organized," said Christine. "Little Britches is a great foundation for when they travel and compete at bigger rodeos."

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