Kendal Pierson, 17, won the 2021 NHSFR breakaway roping championship title, on July 24, 2021. She is the second Canadian in history to take the title across the border. She was 13th in the first round with a 2.6-second run, seventh in second round with a 2.31-second run, and won the short go with a 2.13-second run to win the aggregate with a time of 7.01 seconds on three head.
Casey Allen: You had an electric NHSFR. Walk me through what was going on in your head before you backed in the box to run your final calf.
Kendal Pierson: Going into it my dad and I talked about it. My plan was to go out and make the best run I could on the calf that I drew. About three before I roped, we decided that I was third high-call and had nothing to lose going into the short go, so my game plan was to go fast and make the other two girls chase me.
CA: How did it feel when you realized you were the NHSFR champion?
KP: It was unbelievable, I don’t even know how to explain the feeling. I think I’m still in shock.
CA: You are the first NHSFR champion breakaway roper from Canada since Kelly Love won it in 1999, and only the second Canadian in all 68 years to take that title home. What does that mean to you?
KP: That’s crazy. It’s every kid’s dream in high school rodeo to be a world champion. Being able to bring that home, back to Canada, it shows everyone that even though we live up north, we can still do it too.
CA: Tell me more about your horse, Smoke.
KP: Smoke’s registered name is Kendals Smoking Gun. He’s 11 years old. We bought him as a 6-year-old. He’s just a ranch horse. We sent him out for a month of breakaway training and then I did all the breakaway work in the box—everything with him. I started him in the heading, too—barrels, poles—he’s just an all around horse. He’s awesome to be on. He’s one horse that you just show him something and he’s going to do it for you. He just wants to work for you.
CA: What is your strategy for balancing school and rodeo?
KP: Last year I started doing online school. My school is done by 12:30 in the afternoon. When I am in school, I do my school work for half a day and then I rope or work for my dad in the afternoon.
CA: What does an average day look like for you?
KP: We practice every day. I wake up, rope my dummy, and do chores. In the summertime we rope in the morning on colts or our good horses. We breakaway in the morning and then do ranch work. At night, we normally team rope and then I rope my dummy before bed, too.
CA: Does anybody else in your family rodeo?
KP: Yes. My dad was a professional bareback rider, and my sister is a professional trick rider.
CA: How has the COVID-19 pandemic impacted you? Were you worried you wouldn’t be able to compete at the NHSFR this year?
KP: So last year, I didn’t get to go down (to the NHSFR) because of that. This year, we actually got to have our rodeos in the spring. There’s different ways to go down, so the Canadians just kind of picked a way and hoped that it worked to go down. We were lucky, I think all of the Albertans made it down. We had to have a test done. My mom drove down and my dad and I got on a plane and met her in Great Falls (Montana).
CA: Who do you look up to in the industry?
KP: I look up to Shelby Boisjoli and Taylor Flewelling as role models, for sure.
CA: What are your future goals?
KP: I’m still deciding if I want to go college rodeo, or I want to go straight to Pro Rodeos. I’d like to go to college down south in the states, and then I want to make the NFR.
CA: Do you have any hobbies outside of rodeo?
KP: I played high-level hockey. I play AAA Girls Hockey in the winter, normally. That takes up my time in the winter.
CA: The WPRA just announced the addition of WPRA approved breakaway roping to the Canadian Professional Rodeo Association (CPRA) rodeos. Do you plan on buying your WPRA card and going to those when you can?
KP: At the CPRA rodeos you don’t have to be 18, so I have been going to the Pro Rodeos up here. I filled my CPRA card two weeks ago. Any one I can enter, I’m going to. It’s pretty cool, the opportunities we’re getting now.