High School rodeo competitors balance sport and studies

Lucas Punkari/Daily Herald Prince Albert's Chase Skene competes in the senior tie down roping event at the Lakeland Ford High School Rodeo at the Red River Riding and Roping Arena on Saturday.

For the students that take part in the Saskatchewan High School Rodeo Association circuit, having a balance between their studies and their favourite sport is extremely important. 

“There are some nights where you are riding your horses, other nights where you are doing your homework, and then there are other nights where you are doing both things,” said Chase Skene, who is a Grade 9 student at St. Mary and competes in team roping and tie down roping.   

“It’s important to have some sort of consistency with how you do things,” added St. Mary Grade 12 student Kolby Skene, who joins his brother in the team roping and tie down roping competition. “I try to do everything that I can during the week so that you’re focused on doing good on the weekend.”

Lucas Punkari/Daily Herald
Prince Albert’s Kaci Henry makes her way around the pole bending course at the Red River Riding and Roping Arena on Saturday afternoon.

The SHSRA officially kicked off their new season on Saturday and Sunday as the Red River Riding and Roping Arena played host to the Lakeland Ford High School Rodeo for the third straight year.

“It’s such an awesome weekend, especially with how excited everyone is to start a new year,” said Kaci Henry, who is a Grade 11 student at Carlton and competing in the pole bending, barrel racing and breakaway roping events.  

“It’s really like a big family on the tour. Everyone knows everybody and they are all supportive of each other. If you are missing a saddle, someone has a saddle they are ready to lend you.” 

The Skene brothers and Henry are experienced competitors in the SHSRA. 

Henry has been on the circuit for the last four years, while Kolby and Chase have been competing for six and three years respectively. 

“Our mom rode horses when she was younger, so we got into rodeo through her,” Kolby Skene said. “A lot of our friends got involved as well, so there’s a pretty group of people that we get to see during the course of the year.” 

“I had a mentor who helped me at my very first event and I remember how fun that whole weekend was,” Henry added. “As the years have gone on, I have a better idea of what to expect during the rodeos, and it had made things a lot easier.”

Lucas Punkari/Daily Herald
Kolby Skene of Prince Albert competes in the senior tie down roping event during the opening day of the 2021 Lakeland Ford High School Rodeo.

All three competitors had the chance to compete on a big stage earlier this summer. 

Henry and Chase Skene went to the Canadian High School Rodeo Finals in Swift Current, while Kolby Skene was joined by his older brother Tanner at the National High School Rodeo Finals in Lincoln, Neb. 

“Those events are such a big deal,” said Henry, who also qualified for the Nationals in Nebraska this year but was unable to attend. “Once you get to those events, it pushes you harder to go back there and do well on the provincial circuit.” 

The main goal for all of the competitors is to earn scholarships for collegiate and university rodeo programs, where they will get to continue in the sport while pursuing their education. 

“That’s still a few years away for me, but that’s definitely something I want to do,” Chase Skene said. 

“It would be a super cool opportunity if I was able to do that,” Kolby Skene added. “Not only would you be able to be involved with rodeo at a higher level, but you’ll be to pursue what you want to do for a career.” 

The complete results from this weekend’s competition are expected to be posted on the SHSRA website on Thursday.