Teen aims for top of the horse world

Daylynn Olliver harbours big dreams: ‘I’ve always told myself I won’t go watch the Calgary Stampede unless I’m in it’

ODESSA Sask. — Her pre-school drawings were mostly of horses — the stick-leg kind.

By the age of 10, she had read every book in the school library that had anything to do with horses.

And now, at the age of 16, her main goal is to compete in the Canadian Finals Rodeo. She also wants to go to the Calgary Stampede one day, but not as a spectator.

“I’ve always told myself I won’t go watch the Calgary Stampede unless I’m in it,” said Daylynn Olliver, a high school rodeo competitor who lives to ride.

The Grade 11 Vibank, Sask., school student can be found doing chores almost every day after school and then training horses from 6 to 9 p.m. in the family’s lit arena on most evenings. Her one-hour school spares are even dedicated to running home and squeezing in a training session.

“I can get a few horses ridden in that time if I get a friend to come with me and ride one too,” said Olliver.

For the driven 16-year-old, it’s all about putting in the time to work with the young horses she’s training, as well as keeping her experienced competitive horses in shape. While she focuses on event riding in her practice sessions, she also spends a great deal of time stretching her horses and taking them through full ranges of motion to ensure well-rounded fitness.

“Some people think I’m a bit crazy because I spend so much time with my horses but it takes time to build a bond with them and earn their trust,” said Olliver, explaining that the best results come from years of trust-building.

“I’ve spent four years with my horse CC and this is the first year we’re finally starting to really click because I’m starting to really trust him.”

Olliver’s passion for horses was ignited early on as she watched her dad work for Vibank horseman Jack Grad, and she observed her mom’s passion for riding. Her first horse arrived as a birthday present when she was seven. By the age of 11, she was competing in poles, reining and barrel racing.

Daylynn Olliver works seven days a week to cultivate a close bond with all of her horses, including this one, Reba. | Christalee Froese photo

Her early competitive horses were largely experienced mounts trained by area experts and mentors. Her first competitive horse, Hollywood, was trained by Wayne Reposa and her current competitive horses, CC and Reba, were trained by Wes Peterson. However, the horses she loves to work with now are the young ones she has started herself.

Her current training schedule includes her three competitive horses, as well as three two-year-olds and a five-year-old. Though she has won many accolades in her short riding career — including the 2019 reined cow horse championship, as well as trips to the Nationals and World finals in barrels — her greatest pride is when one of the horses she has trained performs well.

“Any time somebody rides one of my horses and tells me they like them, that’s a good moment,” said Olliver. “I’ve had people ride my horse Tia, which I’ve trained for five years, and when they say she works so well and goes so good, that makes me really happy.”

Her favourite event changes from season to season because her overall goal is to be an all-around competitor who can excel in various events.

“Right now I’m really loving break-away roping, but it used to be cow horse and before that it was barrel racing, so it changes day by the day.”

The highlight of her career so far has been competing at the World High School Rodeo Championships in Wyoming in 2019.

“When I was racing into the outdoor arena, I caught a glimpse of the mountains and a calm came over me,” said Olliver.

“I went into complete competitive mode and my horse worked so great. It was the best experience ever.”

Olliver finished in the top 50 in the world — a placing that has only left her wanting more.

“After every rodeo I think about what I did and what I want to do better or the same,” said the high school student, adding that she’s not afraid to put in the work to get back to the world stage.

“For me it’s about consistency. I’ve worked hard enough so I should be consistent. That’s what I think about on the cold winter days, I know I’m out there for my horses so we can be solid every time.”

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