Champion cowgirl Jo Caldwell is a veteran on the rodeo circuit. She’s won her favourite event, barrel racing, five times at the Mount Isa Rodeo.
How do you prepare for an event like the Mount Isa Rodeo?
The main priority is to have my horses fit. I exercise them every day and make sure they’re feeling good by giving them HYGAIN feed and supplements. I try to stay in shape, too, but I’ve got two little kids, so I definitely don’t as much as I used to.
What kind of relationship do you have with your competitors?
It’s pretty much the same people at all the rodeos, so even though we’re competitive, we’re all pretty close friends. It’s such a good family environment; we camp during the week between rodeos, and all the kids get to play together — it’s a little community.
Do you remember learning to ride?
My dad bred horses, so I remember he’d go and muster them and we’d sit up on them. That was when I was only one or two years old — I’ve been riding from a young age. We’d always have a pony in the backyard, and my brother and sister and I would get on the horse bareback and ride around the yard. Mum would always laugh; she says she’d look out the window and one minute there’d be three on, and the next there’d be one, then none.
Do you have a favourite horse?
Country Roc is my main horse — he’s the one that’s won Mount Isa five times — and he’s definitely my favourite. He’s really one of a kind — not the kind of horse I’d take on a gentle, pleasurable ride, but he loves his job as a barrel-racing horse. He’s older now and he’s a fast, strong horse. He’s got a heart of gold, so hopefully, we’ll get one more year out of him at Mount Isa and then he’ll probably be ready to retire.
Will you be teaching your children what it takes to be a barrel rider?
They’re riding already. Georgia’s just turned three and she’s riding my old barrel-racing horse. She’s still on the lead, but she rides with me and I lead her off another horse. Georgia’s had some barrel-racing runs already, with me riding around in front of her — she absolutely loves it.
Check out some of the colourful characters of the Mount Isa Rodeo here.