Meet the Member: Kali Carpenter
Story by Ruth Nicolaus The Mid States East Rodeo Association member lived in Texas for five years before moving back to her parents’ farm in […]
story by Michele Toberer
Samantha Courville of Kankakee, Illinois is very appreciative of her supportive family as well as the encouraging barrel racers of the Mid-States Rodeo Association. She was excited to step into the world of rodeo competition after barrel racing at jackpots for four years; and qualifying for the 2019 MSRA season finals her rookie year was icing on the cake for the 18-year-old cowgirl. “The MSRA made my first year of rodeo a lot of fun and I’m really looking forward to going to more rodeos this year.”
Born and raised in Illinois, Samantha followed her younger sister, Haven’s lead when it came to running barrels. “Haven was taking barrel racing lessons and it looked fun, so I decided to try it. I took some lessons also, but mostly spent time at home practicing what I saw.” Samantha also has a younger brother, Gideon Courville, 16, that rides recreationally at home, but doesn’t compete in rodeo. Her dad, Jiggs Courville, competed as a bull rider when he was younger. Samantha helps her mom, Michelle Mercer, run their boarding stable, Four Seasons Stables, where they care for approximately 35 horses. Michelle has a background in western pleasure horses. Samantha has begun training horses and now that she has finished her homeschooled education, she plans to focus on rodeoing and training horses for outside clients as a career.
“My uncle, Adam Strahan, has been a steer wrestler since he was in high school, and he and my cousin Colton Strahan both compete in the MSRA. That’s how I got interested, from going to rodeos with him.” Adam let Samantha run his bulldogging horse, an 11-year-old sorrel superhero named Batman, in barrels at the MSRA rodeos last year. “I started competing in the rodeos last June and qualified on Batman for the 2019 season finals. It was pretty cool because my uncle and cousin both competed on Batman at the finals also, as well as a friend, Robert Hughes. Batman handled doing three steer wrestling runs and one barrel racing run in each of the performances, three days in a row; he thinks he’s pretty cool and loves all the attention.” At the finals held in Cloverdale, Indiana in October, Adam won the champion steer wrestler title, and Colton won 2nd in the average. Samantha and Batman didn’t have the finals she hoped, but she did qualify at the Gordyville USA Arena in Gifford, Illinois the last weekend of October, for the RFD-TV Junior American Rodeo on Batman and they recently competed at the Junior American semi-finals in Texas.
Looking forward to the future, Samantha thinks of favorite barrel racers like Lisa Lockhart and her equine partner Louie; and hopes to make her own mark on the barrel racing world one day. She is grateful to have the support of everyone in her family as she works to achieve those goals. “I’m also thankful to my uncle for sharing Batman with me and I look forward to seeing what we can accomplish together in the MSRA this year.”
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