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  • Writer's pictureLorna Hamilton

Local Youth Rodeo Competitor to Compete in the Vegas Tuffest Jr. World Championship


Twelve-year-old Ally Pocock, from Minburn, who has grown up around horses her entire life and started riding occasionally at a young age, will be one of over 1,000 entries from 29 different states, including four provinces in Canada, competing from December 6 to 13 at the Mike and Sherrylynn Johnson Vegas Tuffest Jr. World Championship. This event is held during the first weekend of the National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Ally began taking riding more seriously at the age of 9, taking lessons and participating in local events. Due to her increased training and competition schedule, her parents decided to homeschool her starting in grade 5.

“We chose homeschooling because it allows us to dedicate more time to horses and makes rodeoing more manageable. Ally was missing a significant amount of school to pursue her passion. However, it’s important to note that not all kids who rodeo need to be homeschooled. It’s just what works for us right now,” commented her mom, Carla.

In her relatively short competitive career, Ally has received significant support and guidance from her family, as well as from important mentors and friends within the rodeo community.

“Her Grandparents, Bill and Elaine Pocock, and Sam and Deb Barber, have played significant roles in supporting Ally. Ally has two brothers, Brody, 20, who actively farms, and Reece, 17, a grade 12 student who also competes in team roping and tie-down roping. I handle most of the driving and horse organization, while her Dad, Ryan, takes care of our grain farming operation and ensures that our trucks and trailers are in proper working order, making sure Ally and her horses are safe on the road,” said Carla.

Ally’s achievements extend to various rodeo events, including barrel racing, pole bending, goat tying, and breakaway roping, with barrel racing and breakaway roping being her favourite events.

“Ally has been a member of the ABRA (Alberta Barrel Racing Association) since 2021 and joined District 2-AHSRA (Alberta High School Rodeo Association) in 2021 as well. She has held an LRA (Lakeland Rodeo Association) card for the last two years and has been a member of LCJRA (Little Cowpokes Junior Rodeo Association). Ally has competed all across the province, from Carstairs to Elk Point and many more locations. Her current standings in D2 AHSRA for the halfway point of the season are 10th in Barrel racing and 8th in Breakaway roping. Junior High AHSRA Rodeos will resume in April 2024,” explained Carla.

Husband and wife duo Mike Johnson, a 23-time National Finals Rodeo qualifier, and Sherrylynn Johnson, a four-time qualifier, are the organizers of the event. They held 41 qualifiers across the United States and Canada to give rodeo youth an equal chance to make it to Vegas and the opportunity to win their share of $1.5 million in cash and prizes.

“Each Vegas Tuffest Jr. World Champion will take home $10,000 to $30,000 in cash. We offer the highest stakes payout in five events for youth in rodeo history, and this year we’ve added Team Roping, which will increase the payouts even further,” said Mike Johnson.

Mike also noted that the total payout, including two Dodge Ram dually trucks, is expected to exceed $1.5 million in cash and awards this year. “Winners will also take home electric Trek bikes, Crickets, saddles, rope cans, World Champion rings, and a plethora of swag from our A-list group of sponsors. We’d like to thank our Title Event Sponsor 5 Star Equine Products plus our event sponsors Cowgirl Tuff, Total Feed, Spalding Fly Predators, Wrangler BeneFab, MVP, American Hat Co., SmartPak, K&DEquestrian, Hebert’s Town &Country Dodge, Red River Arenas, Re-Vita EQ, DB and Pittsburg Rodeo Association.”

The event features four different age groups: 19 and under, 15 and under, 12 and under, and 10 and under. Ally falls into the 12 and under age group. According to her mom, Ally decided on a whim to attend the qualifier for the Vegas Tuffest held on July 6 in Stettler.

“We weren’t initially planning on her competing (in Vegas) at that point. Ally had big Vegas dreams at that point, but Ryan and I just wanted to give her and Remi a chance to make a competitive run in a pressure situation. Our hope was that she would have a good run on her new horse as they needed to build their rapport. As it turned out, that run qualified them to compete,” explained Carla.

The upcoming event offers various rodeo events, including barrel racing, double mugging, goat tying, breakaway roping, tie-down roping, and team roping, which align with Ally’s interests. She is thrilled to be competing.

“I’m so excited to go to Vegas and compete with kids from all over the U.S. and Canada. I believe that my horses, Remi and Billy, will work out great in the arena we’re going to run in,” commented Ally.

While Ally is excited to compete, she is equally excited to see how her horse, Remi, performs. “Billy is coming on the trip just in case. It is a long trip, and all horses have preferences of the arenas they like to run in. So having both horses with us is pretty important,” Carla notes.

“I have three runs in Las Vegas, and my hope is to have clean runs. I don’t have any specific expectations; I’m just excited to be there,” Ally explained. She is also looking forward to making new friends in Vegas and is thrilled to watch other kids from Alberta compete in their events. She is especially excited about receiving her back number at the event.

Ally and her family are responsible for all the costs associated with traveling to the event. They feel fortunate to have SVM Equine Therapy (Sarah Kropinske) as her sponsor to ensure her horses are in the best condition.

Ally plans to leave for the event at the end of November to provide her horses with a few days’ rest at a location just outside of Las Vegas before they enter the World Expo Center on December 5.

The event will be live webcasted at www.Johnsonsportline.com if you’d like to watch this local girl compete.

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