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Monday, 25 July 2016 08:00

Barrel racer displays championship attitude

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Nancy Csabay’s daughter Kate; Nancy’s best friend’s daughter Susan Gulick, and Nancy’s husband Tony Csabay enjoy Nancy’s first-place finish July 13. Nancy Csabay’s daughter Kate; Nancy’s best friend’s daughter Susan Gulick, and Nancy’s husband Tony Csabay enjoy Nancy’s first-place finish July 13. Photo by Deanna Kristensen

About 20 km directly west of Foremost in the County of 40 Mile is the tiny hamlet of Skiff which is home to some hard-working farmers and ranchers. It is also home to rodeo fans who undoubtedly were glued to their TVs watching one of their own do well at the Greatest Show of them all — the Calgary Stampede.

Women’s barrel racer Nancy Csabay and her horse Wicked, got rolling July 12 and nearly made it to the final four in the final championship performance after a first, a third, a couple of fourths and a fifth-place finish during the week). Unfortunately after the early Sunday afternoon performance where she came in fourth resulted her finishing  fifth overall and nudged out of the final four. Conditions were muddy and sloppy — not exactly ideal for the 12 year-old horse who was raised and trained by the Csabays.
“To be honest with you, I really can’t remember how it started other than I placed in the first round (third) and remember she really hated the first barrel; won the second round which was incredible, then the rain came and never left,” Csabay says with a chuckle.
“Usually, I turn out of muddy conditions, so Wicked has no experience in mud. I was so happy how she handled it. (In the last race)I let her pick her speed to the first barrel and she handled the ground just like it was dry. We placed in the last two rounds of our pool and moved on to Sunday. I figured since she was turning her first barrel so good that I would go for it, but I didn’t slow her down enough to the first (barrel) and we went by it a bit. I ended up fifth: ‘the crying hole’, but was so happy with how she worked that whole week.”
Being so close to the adulation and the prize money, one would think there would be disappointment for the 40-something who resides near Taber. But from the ever-positive Csabay, there’s no disappointment.
“The most gratifying is not the money. Don’t get me wrong, I’m grateful for the money and I would never turn it down, but if I did this for the money, I would have quit a long time ago,” Csabay explains. “Getting to spend time with my family was the best part. I’ve been to the Stampede four or five times. It was a wonderful experience. Wicked worked awesome, the other girls were so nice. Wicked had a green pasture to rest in when we were not at the grounds, got to visit with my stepbrother and sister and spend time with my family. How could life get any better? As for the competition, I really don’t look at the other competitors (as bitter rivals). I look at them as my friends and want them to succeed as much as me. I don’t compare myself to them, it’s me, Wicked and three barrels.”
Csabay still have Wicked’s dam (the mare), Reba, and are raising colts off of her still. As Csabay recalls, Wicked needed to be reigned in a bit.
“When I first started riding her, we would have an argument for the first 10 minutes of every ride for a whole year,” Csabay explains. “She thought she knew everything and I begged to differ. Then after that year, she was a piece of cake. Just a natural, really. I wasn’t expecting anything from her, but I know she is talented and a champ in my eyes, so I knew she run with the NFR (National Final Rodeo) horses.”
She will end up going to about 25 rodeos this year, the same as last. She’s not really thinking about the CFR, and says if she was meant to go, she’ll go.
“If not, (it’s) not a big deal.”
The Skiff native will barrel race as long as she can. Riding gives her a sense of freedom and barrel racing gives her a rush.She absolutely loves it.
She agrees 67-year-old Mary Burger from Oklahoma definitely set the bar high and gives others a hope that they can still race at a high level as the get older. Burger won the first four days of races and attracted media attention. Burger then wound up winning the last and most important one Sunday taking home the $100,000 first prize in 17.99 seconds — a time which Csabay had bettered twice during the week.
Csabay has a refreshingly optimistic perspective on life and it carries over to her racing. She put into perspective the 2016 Calgary Stampede on her Facebook page shortly following her last race.
For many people, it’d be utter disappointment to get that close to a six-figure pay day, even though she won some decent money during the week.
“I absolutely love what I do and hope all barrel racers have this same feeling of contentment after their run, whether it’s at a jackpot, rodeo, or finals,” Csabay wrote. “Just know that you are enough no matter the outcome. That barrel racing does not define who you are — God does.”
Nancy Csabay results:
• July 12 — (third), 17.79 seconds;
• July 13 — (first), 17.56 seconds;
• July 14 — (fifth), 18.35 seconds;
• July 15 — (fourth), 18.24 seconds;
• July 16 — (fourth in the race, resulting in fifth in the standings and out of the championship round of four), 18.28 seconds.

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Ryan Dahlman

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