Girl power

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, Last Updated: 7:54 AM ET

Danica Patrick isn't the first female to race a car. But she is the most famous. As a result, like Shirley Muldowney did years ago in drag-racing, Patrick has become an inspiration for young girls that they can do it, too.

Brandi Love and Alicia Kary are in the Olds College rodeo program and competing at the Canadian National College Finals Rodeo this weekend (final go-round, today, 6 p.m., at the AgriCom) in all or some of the five events - including three roping events - for the girls.

The problem is, if the girls want to go the professional route in rodeo competition right now, you're pretty much looking at barrel racing as the sole avenue.

But, both believe that can and will change someday.

"I've been taught all through my life that you can do as much as a guy can," said Kary, although she admits she couldn't necessarily beat up her brothers, but "I can run faster!"

"It kind of sucks because girls can only do the one sport in professional rodeo. I definitely believe a girl can do anything if they put their mind to it."

It'll take time, though. And a competitor with Tiger Woods-like drive

"Team roping, I think, girls can do. But it's tough because the guys have been doing it since they were little, and the rope is like another hand.

"My dream when I was younger was to be a professional roper, but I never really stuck to that," said Kary, a land-and-water-management student from Fort St. John, B.C.

Both Kary and Love said they have heard of women competing in Canada and the U.S. in stock-riding events.

Kary thinks that a Danica-like presence would go a long way to even up the playing field.

"There's no reason you can't do it," she said. "(But) because there's not a lot doing it, so a lot of people don't do it.

"It'll just take that one person to put their foot in the door and (send the message that) 'Hey, you can do it, too.' "

"It is frustrating," said Love, of the one-event route to pro rodeo currently available.

"It is frustrating when you are a breakaway roper and a goat tie-er, you're competing in events that require those (roping) skills."

Barrel racing is more the straight-up, flat-out rider-and-hoss sport.

"(In roping) You still need a horse to get you there," she said, but there's the added emphasis of the more delicate - if you can describe anything to do with rodeo as delicate! - skills of roping

"I do barrel race. There's definitely interest there. (But) a lot of it is horsepower," Love said. She was referring to something that Patrick can appreciate: crucial need for a rockin' steed.

"The horsepower isn't there for me, right now. I'll need to work for a couple years after college to find that right horse for me!" said Love, who grew up involved with both competing and organizing in high school and amateur rodeos in her hometown of Portage La Prairie, Man.

There are avenues for her to keep up her roping, Love said.

"The Canadian All-Girls Rodeo Association is another option. They continue with the breakaway (roping) and goat-tying. And they offer calf-roping for girls as well. They have roughly 10 rodeos a year, so it gives us an opportunity to continue on in those events.

"There's other associations, such as the FCA (Foothills Cowboys Association) and the Chinook Rodeo Association that are picking up breakaway roping. They don't have to bring extra stock, it doesn't take a lot of time and it's convenient. They open it to ladies of any age and to males 14-and-under and 12-and-under."

"I really hope so," said Love. "There's no reason why a female couldn't do it."


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