Brooke Wills and her horse, Fames to Blame, just took home the biggest barrel racing victory of their short time together, winning first place at the Canadian Finals Rodeo (CFR) in Red Deer, Alta., last week (Oct. 29-Nov. 3).
Wills, who grew up in Quesnel, has been racing on “Famey” since August of 2018, and the pair have been electric together.
The CFR barrel racing competition took place over six days, with the team racing once on each day.
While day one did not go as planned — she knocked over two of the barrels and finished in 12th place out of 12 riders — Wills stayed resolute.
“I wasn’t too worried,” she says. “I knew I just needed to make some simple changes and everything would work out.
“Going into it, I just wanted to make a little money; I didn’t care how much, I just didn’t want to get skunked.”
Win money she did.
Wills halved her result (sixth place) on day two, finishing just outside of the money, but then halved it again for a $5,000 pay day on day three.
At this point, she and Famey had the feel of the course and were ready to make their move.
“She really got the arena down pat, and I got my timing down and [once it was over], I really felt like she could have gone a couple more rounds.
“We definitely weren’t ready for the weekend to end.”
The two finished first on day four and day five, second on day six and won it all, claiming over $35,000 in prizes.
“To end up winning two rounds and placing in two others and then winning the championship just blew my expectations out of the water,” Wills says.
“To be honest, I didn’t want to put any expectation on myself or my horse going into the contest. I just wanted to let it happen, so to get this end result is amazing.”
The victory, which is Wills’s greatest achievement in the sport, came against some incredibly talented competition.
“It was such a tough group of girls,” she says. “You had girls going to Calgary and the NFR (National Finals Rodeo) and past world champions. But they were all so nice. They helped look after Famey when I had to go do interviews. It’s a competitive sport, but they make sure that your horse is looked after.”
From here, the winning pair will be competing in Regina at the Maple Leaf Circuit finals at the end of November. Famey will get December off, and then they will travel down to Arizona and Texas to compete at some big competitions in the southern U.S.
Wills is grateful for all the well wishes she has received from her friends and family in Quesnel.
“The support from everyone has been overwhelming, and it’s so hard to respond to everyone, but I really do see everyone’s messages,” she says.
“It was great to hear from all the people I went to school with and the people who’ve known me since I was little in Quesnel.
“It’s really awesome to bring this title back to B.C.”