Shaylee McMann turns the final barrel on her June 28 run at the Ponoka Stampede. Photos by Jordie Dwyer

Mom, daughter from Donalda running for a shot at the CFR

Unique barrel racing pairing working hard on the rodeo trail

Hoof prints can sometimes be similar to footprints.

That’s kind of the case for Donalda’s mother and daughter barrel racing team of Shannon Leguerrier and Shaylee McMann.

While the pairing might not be so unusual on the circuit, it’s the uniqueness of what they do that makes the relationship all the more interesting.

The two racers travel together in the rodeo circuits in Alberta and Saskatchewan, but what separates them is Shannon nearly always runs before Shaylee. In fact, Shannon will usually run right in front of Shaylee and provide tips about the infield just as she passes Shaylee in the start/finish area.

“Every arena and rodeo set up is different and the ground is a bit different. So I’m usually the test dummy,” Shannon stated with a chuckle in a phone interview as the pair were on the road to a rodeo in Benalto.

“I will test it out then come out and tell her if the ground is slick or dicey. Then I’ll tell her to sit up, or if it’s sticky, tell her to kick or to be aggressive or back off a little.”

Shannon has been racing and riding for as long as she can remember — getting her pro card in 2004, while Shaylee took up riding when she was about five and didn’t really begin racing in rodeos until five years ago.

“I started racing competitively in high school and won the Lakeland Rodeo Association junior final in 2014. I got my pro card two years ago and it’s good racing with mom,” Shaylee said.

“Mom takes care of everything and makes sure my horse is always looked after. I don’t really have to worry about too much, which is pretty sweet.”

Shannon admitted she stresses about some things, knowing Shaylee is more than old enough to look after her horse and such, but any concern is all about being a parent and wanting to see her daughter succeed.

“There is probably more pressure on me because I’m always concerned about taking care of everything. She’s getting older to where she pretty much takes care of her horse by herself, but I always kind of oversee everything to make sure she has what she needs,” Shannon added.

“To be honest, it’s pretty cool to be rodeoing with your daughter. I’m excited about it and can’t imagine now doing it with anyone else. Yes, we compete against each other, but for me, it’s a win-win. I’m just as happy when she wins as if I won. I used to cry, get choked up and emotional when she would win because it means a lot to me.”

And for Shaylee, the support and tips she gets from mom are great to receive, even if it sometimes means a quiet truck ride home.

“She has taught me a lot — how to take care of the horses, run different set ups, race on various conditions so that I can be ready when I do go to rodeos by myself,” Shaylee noted. “Most times it’s pretty good, but sometime we argue, so at times in the truck we may not talk for a few hours.”

Both women are in the midst of the season that is rodeo, with hopes of making some cash while on their way to possibly earning a spot at the Canadian Finals Rodeo (CFR) slated for October in Red Deer. However, Shaylee is running with a better, more experienced horse, while Shannon is using some younger horses that are gaining experience.

All of that has meant a bit tougher sledding for both women this season, as they both compete in the Canadian Pro Rodeo Association (CPRA) and the Canadian Cowboys Association (CCA) circuits as well as other rodeos.

“We got to a lot of CCA events in Saskatchewan and also the CPRA events because the CFR is our ultimate goal,” Shannon explained.

“But June is tough because of all the Americans coming up to race, so we are just winning a few cheques here and placing in a few CCA rodeos.”

That said, the mom and daughter combination have another big support system beside them and it’s called the Cassidy family. Shannon and Canadian champion steer wrestler Curtis Cassidy have been together for around 15 years, so when things need to get done or the ambition seems to be a bit down for either one, they pick up each other.

“We probably have the biggest support system in the entire Cassidy family. When I don’t want to go or Shaylee or I aren’t winning, Curtis will kind of push us and make sure everything is ready to go — be it fuel or the trailer or whatever,” Shannon said.

“He’s usually going his own direction, has different days than us and gone to the U.S. a lot, so it’s hard to rodeo with him. And he has things to take care of too, but we definitely couldn’t do this with out him.”

With the busy June behind them, the next two months aren’t as busy with rodeos for the pair. The hope is simply that the results will get better as the season wears on and for Shaylee, “It would be super cool to be at the CFR and compete along side both Cassidy boys.”

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