Nineteen-year-old Canadian cowgirl Kendal Pierson has been busy making history. In 2019, she was the first woman to get a qualified time during breakaway roping’s Canadian ProRodeo debut at Guy Weadick Days. In 2021, she became the country’s first breakaway roping champion at the Canadian Finals Rodeo. Then in 2022, she continued her CFR winning streak and defended her title as Canada’s reigning and undefeated breakaway roping champ. And the teenager is just getting started.
With the 2023 season heating up and a three-peat in her sights, here are five things to know about Kendal Pierson.
#1. “Smoke” is her go-to guy—with one small exception
Kendals Smokin Gun “Smoke” (Ima Sun Ofa Gun x Kids Dee Blue) and Pierson have been inseparable since she bought the 13-year-old gray as a 6-year-old from Riley Regier. Though Smoke has been her “number-one guy” for years, carrying her to two national titles, Pierson and the big gelding got off to a rocky start.
“He bucked—quite a lot—when he was young,” Pierson said. “I could hardly get him stopped when we first got him.”
The Piersons sent Smoke to Clark Hughson for 30 days of training, and by the time Kendal entered high school, he was her go-to rodeo horse.
“We took a chance that this ranch horse would make me a good rodeo horse, and taking that chance really paid off,” Pierson said. “We grew up together and he’s a really incredible horse.”
“If it’s raining or if it’s cold out, you better saddle up about an hour before you even think about getting on,” Pierson laughed. “Because he will buck.”
#2. The Piersons are one talented bunch
Kendal comes by her love of riding and roping honestly. She grew up on a ranch and has had a rope in her hand since “always.” Her father, Bruce, earned multiple trips to the Canadian Finals Rodeo and was the 1989 Canadian Novice Bareback Champion. Her sister, Shelby, a trick rider, is a four-time Canadian Specialty Act of the Year winner and recently made her first appearance at RodeoHouston (where Kendal advanced to the semi-finals and added $3,000 to her earnings).
Kendal was riding at 2 years old, started roping in Smokin’ Joes Jr. Roping Clinics at 4 and trained with nine-time Canadian Finals Rodeo qualifier Tim Williamson only a few years after that.
“Tim helped me get into it,” she explained, “and I still go to him when I need a tune-up!
“I owe a lot to my family and friends,” she continued. “It means everything to have them in my corner.”
#3. You won’t catch Kendal riding without her Weaver Synergy® Flex Contour Performance Saddle Pad
Making history doesn’t happen on the backs of uncomfortable horses, so Pierson saddles up with the Weaver Synergy Flex Contour Performance Saddle Pad for just about every ride. It’s what she used during her title-winning run at the 2022 CFR and continues to be her go-to pad whether ranching or rodeoing.
“It’s just a really good pad,” Pierson said. “It fits my horses, all my horses really, and it’s comfortable and durable for long days. I use that saddle pad no matter what I’m doing—on the ranch or at a rodeo, it’s what I’m using.”
Developed to enhance horse comfort, health and performance, the Synergy Flex line has been rigorously designed for the equine athlete. It features a flexible contoured spine design that follows the curve of your horse’s back, ensuring a secure fit and maximum stability during movement. The pad’s shock-absorbing EVA Sport Foam inserts offer orthopedic support to your horse, which can improve their range of motion and reduce discomfort during rides. The pad’s high-performing natural wool is moisture-wicking, preventing your horse from overheating and keeping them cool and comfortable.
#4. When in doubt, Kendal follows sage advice
“One thing I always lean on is what a really good friend of mine shared with me,” Pierson said. “‘Be where your feet are.’ I love that because it encourages you to be present. Don’t think about where you’ve been or what’s ahead, just be present—focus on what’s at hand, where your feet are.”
#5. She’s gunning for a third title
Pierson currently sits 22nd in the WPRA standings, with $14,629.67 in earnings and a lot of ambition.
“This year we’re going hard north and south of the border,” she said. “Last year I didn’t go as hard as I wanted, so this year it’s going to be pedal to the medal. My goal is to be inside of the top 15 getting to rope at the National Finals Breakaway as well as the Canadian Finals—I want a third Canadian title.”
Kendal Pierson isn’t done shattering ceilings, and we’re excited to see what this year brings for the talented teen.