Horse named Rodeo enters his final performance: Colby Gilbert says goodbye to beloved barrel horse
His name was Rodeo and rodeo was what he did best.
French Streaktorodeo, an 8-year-old AQHA bay roan stallion, was owned by Corny and Maria Wiebe of Alberta, Canada, but loved by Colby Gilbert.
The pair competed in barrel racing and qualified for Canadian Finals Rodeo this year and The American last year. Their career was cut short when Rodeo escaped his pen and caused internal damage trying to get into a pasture. He was rushed to a vet in Saskatoon, where he awaited surgery to repair a basketball-sized hernia, but once in surgery, his colon ruptured and nothing could be done. He died Oct. 31.
“He wasn’t just a horse; I think it helped he was a stud, he was just different. It wasn’t just me loving him, I knew he reciprocated it,” Gilbert said. “I flew there Sunday and they put him down Monday. When I got there, it was just crazy, he just became a different horse. I knew he was just tired and in pain, but he brightened up so much when I got there. They couldn’t get him to walk since Thursday, but all of a sudden he started pushing on his stall door.”
Gilbert was connected with Rodeo through her mom’s training connections. A mutual friend between Gilbert’s mom, Andrea Udal, and Rodeo’s owners linked the duo. The Wiebes wished to try Rodeo in the barrel pen and Gilbert was their gal.
“It’s a fairy tale story. Our mutual friend approached me and said they were looking for someone to ride him and come show him,” Gilbert said. “He was amazing; his athletic ability was amazing. I think he was about 6 when I got him, so he was past futurity years, so he had a late start. He was started in roping, but not barrels. The Wiebes were great, and they’re outstanding people so we kind of became like family. It’s been a blessing in all parts of it.”
Corny had always wanted a piece of that popular performance bloodline and Rodeo was it for him. The son of Streak of Fling was born at Fulton Family Performance Horses, and went through their sale in front of Corny’s eyes, but he didn’t bid. He later spoke with Brian Fulton and he directed him to Rodeo’s new owner, from whom Corny purchased the horse.
“He made my dream come true. I had always wanted to own a Streak of Fling offspring. He had a really amazing personality and loved whatever you were trying to do with him. He loved the job and was never one of those horses that didn’t want to do what we wanted him to do. I liked the way he did everything,” Corny said.
The Wiebes offered Rodeo at stud for three seasons, and reported great results from his offspring. They hope to acquire a filly by Rodeo for their breeding program.
“We’ve always been awfully proud to own such a great horse. The whole family loved him; he loved the kids. If we didn’t have him home for a while, we would miss him so much,” Maria said. “He would make us feel like we were rich. We don’t have much, but we really have good horses. For us, it almost feels like we lost everything. We’ll try to get some good babies out of him, but it’s been pretty hard to believe he’s gone.”
Gilbert is heading into Canadian National Finals without Rodeo. She will rely instead on a five-year-old mare owned by her mom, and also her traveling partner’s horse.
“We’ll see how the week goes. It starts Wednesday and goes through Sunday. It’s going to be terrible; the finals are going to be hard. I just knew I had a good shot and it just kind of got taken away. It’s a week today that he passed,” Gilbert said on Nov. 7. “We buried him at our place on the hill, but I haven’t gone up there yet. I couldn’t do it before finals. I’m just so thankful for him. Having a horse like that was priceless; he was priceless. I’m not sure it’s hit me yet, maybe next summer at a rodeo, but I’m going to forever have those moments.”
Rodeo was loved by all those surrounding him right up to the end.
“They loved him there too,” Maria said of the reports she received from the vet. “They said he was so good to work with, so good-minded, and that anyone could work with him. We’ll keep him as a memory for sure.”
“I’ll forever be wondering why. You hear of hernias not being a big deal,” Gilbert said. “I had a friend tell me you can be sad for a few days, after that just be thankful. I’m so glad for the videos and candids, like of him rolling, that I’ll always have. I now know what a winner feels like. I’ll never find another like him. His connection was something I’ll forever cherish.”
“He was just phenomenal,” Corny said. “I couldn’t have asked for a better one.” ❖