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Steer riding school back in Rimbey

Steer riding school will be running Oct. 28, 29 and 30
Pictured, rodeo legend Scott Schiffner when he announced his retirement from the sport. Schiffner and Jesse Torkelson run Johansen Brothers Steer Riding School. (Photo by Ben Dartnell)

Experienced bull riders Jesse Torkelson and Scott Schiffner are hosting another steer riding school in Rimbey at the end of October, teaching the rodeo stars of tomorrow.

The steer riding school will be running Oct. 28, 29 and 30 at the Rimbey Agricultural Society and it’s meant for youth ages nine to 14.

This will be the fourth year Torkelson and Schiffner will be bringing their school, Johansen Brothers Steer Riding School, to Rimbey and the program is a popular one.

“We take 30 kids,” explained Torkelson. “We were booked up in two days and we have a waiting list.”

When it comes to learning how to ride steers, safety is paramount.

“We try and expose them to as much as we can and try and keep it as simple as we can, so it’s not overwhelming,” said Torkelson. “One of our biggest deals is teaching them how to get off properly and stay safe. It is a dangerous sport, especially when you’re dealing with a live animal. But if you’re prepared, know what you’re doing and have a plan for what to do when stuff goes wrong, it can be fairly safe.”

Torkelson said he and Schiffner are picky about the stock they bring in for the kids to learn on. Rocky Ross, from Stettler, and Shane Gist, from Pigeon Lake, both supply stock to the school. Ross also supplies stock for the high school rodeo circuit.

The school often runs a three-day session in the spring and one again in the fall, as well as a bull riding school for anyone over 16 years of age.

Torkelson said he started riding steers when he was nine years old and he rode bulls professionally for about 15 years. In fact, he and Schiffner both learned to ride steers under the original Johansen Brothers Steer Riding School and when the owners decided to retire, Torkelson and Schiffner jumped at the opportunity to take it over.

“We were honoured for them to hand the reins over to us,” said Torkelson. “We have the same values as they used to teach, so it’s pretty neat that we can continue on that tradition and that school. It’s where both me and Scott learned to ride. I don’t know if there’s a Canadian champion that hasn’t been to one of their schools, so that’s pretty cool.”

While Torkelson hails from Warburg and Schiffner is from Strathmore, the pair chose to run their school out of Rimbey because of the facility and its location.

“It’s a good facility and it’s really central for all of the students to try and make it,” said Torkelson, adding that a lot of their students come from central Alberta, but also BC, Saskatchewan and some even come from the US.

“Me and Scott travelled together for 10 years, competing,” said Torkelson. “We complement each other in our different strengths and I think we make a really good team when it comes to teaching these kids.”

Find more information on the school on the Rimbey Agricultural Society’s Facebook page.