Growing up with the last name Daines in the town of Innisfail leaves a person with big boots to fill.
With legends like Jack, Ivan, and Duane Daines (just to name a few) on your family tree, there is little doubt that a passion for agriculture and rodeo should run in your blood. That’s certainly the case for Rayel Daines, who is carrying on the family tradition and making her mark on the rodeo circuit, most recently at the Canadian College Finals Rodeo.
Roping and riding have always been a part of the 20-year-old cowgirl’s life, although she didn’t start competing until Grade 9 after watching her first high school rodeo. There’s been many awards since then, including a scholarship and a spot on Western Oklahoma State College’s rodeo team.
She gives a lot of credit to her father Michael, a former professional calf roper.
“My dad is my mentor,” said Daines. “He was the one who taught me how to rope and has been my biggest supporter in my rodeo journey. Even when I was far from home in Oklahoma, he was the person I called.”
She took business administration and has been furthering her business education at Red Deer College after returning home last year.
And, of course, she continued competing, earning a spot at last month’s Canadian College Finals Rodeo in both the goat-tying and breakaway-roping events.
“The few weeks before the rodeo I was very anxious,” said Daines. “I did a lot of mental preparation and actually surprised myself at how well I handled the pressure. Coming in my game plan for both events was to be solid, nothing extraordinary. But after the first round the heat was on and I knew I needed to bring my A game.”
That A game included posting the fastest time in both competitions en route to winning the goat-tying event and taking second in breakaway roping, along with scooping the high point champion award and being the high money earner.
“Scuff (my breakaway horse) was bought for $800 out of the Innisfail Auction Market, and the two of us have learned the ropes together. My dad and I turned him into a breakaway horse when I first started roping, and every year we advance as a team.”
Her other horse, Rev, was purchased from her uncle and has become a jack of all trades as her go-to horse for pole bending, barrel racing, and goat tying. He was named the goat-tying horse of the year at the college rodeo finals, which is held in conjunction with the annual Farm & Ranch Show in Edmonton.
Although years have passed since her father and extended family were top contestants in the rodeo arena, the camaraderie within the sport has remained the same.
“Rodeo is one big family. Everyone knows everyone, and your paths are constantly crossing. It is the only one, or one of few, sports that you will find competitors cheering, assisting, and encouraging each other on. We all want to see one another do well.”
Her recent success may be the peak of her rodeo career thus far, but Daines isn’t about to hang up her spurs yet.
“I am 100 per cent sure that I want agriculture and rodeo to play large roles in my life in the future,” she said. “Anyone who has ever had the honour of being involved in agriculture in any way will tell you that there is a large sense of pride and accomplishment that comes with it. It’s not a hobby; it’s a way of life.”