It’s not everyday you see a 54-year-old barrel racer, but Lee Ann Rust of Stephenville is making a name for herself after winning “rookie of the year” in 2011. She recently showed her stuff at the Calgary Stampede.
Rust rides her nine-year-old paint, Harley, that she named after the motorcycle. She says Harley has a mind of his own, and like the bike, he loves to go fast. So, how does a middle-aged woman put up with the stresses of such a demanding sport? She says she’s tough, manhandles adversity, and is unrelenting in her pursuit of victory.
Last year, she qualified for the Canadian Finals Rodeo, and finished sixth. It was at this event that she received an invitation to the Calgary Stampede where she recently competed. Midway through this barrel racing season, Rust is in even better shape than she was last year. She has placed in all 12 of the rodeos that she competed in.
Her competition is not without peril. In Denver this year, she fell off Harley turning the third barrel and was stepped on by her horse. She notes, “He stepped on my right thigh and rolled me back on my head. I passed out and went blind. I was making dying-animal noises and couldn’t shut up as they toted me out of the arena. He’d also hit me in the ribs with a front foot and busted two of them.”
So, you can imagine her surprise when the phone rang and it was Stampede rodeo administrator Barry McGrath inviting her to Calgary as a first alternate. She adds, “My heart skipped a beat. I almost lost my voice when he asked me if I’d be interested. I mean, wow.”
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Original Source: Stephenville Empire Tribune