By Greg Price
It has been a year to remember for local barrel racer Nancy Csabay.
Earlier this month, Csabay was awarded the Cowgirl of the Year award prior to the 2014 Canadian Finals Rodeo in Edmonton by the Canadian Professional Rodeo Association.
“I guess it is awarded by my peers and fellow barrel racers. It’s a really great thing, I’m grateful that they think of me that way,” said Csabay. “For me, I don’t really feel any different than anyone else. I think we all deserve Cowgirl of the Year in some way. I don’t really consider them my peers or my colleagues, I look at them more as my friends. Every girl out there that I barrel race with I consider my friend. Sure the buckle is nice with all the pride, but most important is the friends I’ve made along the way.”
Csabay had ridden horses since before she could talk with a father who was a Canadian all-around champion and a mother who was Miss Rodeo Canada.
“I enjoy it and I like to see how I can make a horse go faster and I like to see how I can keep my horse enjoying what he’s doing,” said Csabay.
“It’s a challenge and I love it, it’s in my blood. It (barrel racing) has a lot to do with trust to get my horse to do its job. Ninety-five per cent of it is the horse allowing him or her to do the job.”
Last year, Csabay’s rodeo count was 29 events. The horse she mostly used got hurt in the summer time, but still managed to place in 11 of the 19 rodeos the horse managed to compete in.
“Would of done a little better if her rider didn’t get in her way and tip some barrels,” said Csabay with a chuckle about her horse Wicket. “She has done pretty good considering she didn’t go to too many rodeos last year.”
Csabay trains her own horses and starts them off at three years old. Wicket did not start rodeoing until she was seven years old to ensure readiness on the circuit.
“Riding her for four years and five days a week a lot of the time, so I spend a lot of time on my horses,” said Csabay.
“It’s fairly easy to transition from one to another. The only hard part is the transition from training to rodeoing. It’s a little bit of a different ball game with the horses that are younger and need my help a little more.”
The Canadian Finals Rodeo this month was an emotional time for Csabay who had been battling breast cancer, having a mother who had succumbed to the disease at around the exact same age, as the event featured her on a grand entry.
“It was along with a couple of others who had some adversity this year and I did a few interviews on TV,” said Csabay, who qualified for her fifth Canadian Finals Rodeo this year, and her third in a row.
But, this time it had special significance, because shortly after last year’s Canadian Finals Rodeo, the 46-year-old wife and mom was diagnosed with breast cancer. She turned her horse out for five months, and turned her attention to the battle at hand wit her personal health. The breast cancer was caught early and Csabay was back on the rodeo scene earlier this year, but with a new perspective on her sport and life in general.
“I find a lot of people call it a battle or a fight and for me it was never that. It was something I needed to deal with and I dealt with it,” said Csabay.
“It’s time to enjoy life, and more than anything, that is what it has taught me. To enjoy the time with my friends and my family and to live in the moment. Life is short no matter what you have or what you don’t have. It has woken me up a little bit that I need to pay attention to life.”