Typically, when you ask an athlete what other sports they played growing up, you expect to hear about volleyball, basketball or even track — but not barrel racing.
“I used to do it when I was younger, before I moved to Edmonton,” U of M Bisons women’s hockey goaltender Erin Fargey said.
“I moved to Edmonton when I was like 16, but I used to compete all the way up until then. I had to pick one sport and hockey was the one.”
Barrel racing is a rodeo sport where each competitor rides in a set pattern around three barrels while trying to post the best time.
Born in Langdon, Alta. — a hamlet of roughly 5,000 people — the fields and trails of her hometown were where Fargey began her life as a rodeo racer. After seeing barrel racing during a local rodeo she was hooked, and then her dad had an idea.
“He’s like ‘OK’ and takes me over to his buddy’s house and ‘Oh, so my girl wants to learn how to barrel race,’” she said.
“And [his friend] is like ‘Oh good my girls barrel race all the time.’ So I learned from these girls down the street.”
It may surprise some to think choosing hockey was based partially on how far the sport could take her, but Fargey said barrel racing is quite the lucrative venture.
“Friends from back home honestly went to Texas to barrel race — I’m dead serious,” she said.
“I was pretty good for [a] small town but I wouldn’t say I would’ve been able to do as well in pro,” she said.
“So [there are] different levels — but my horse was really short — so typically you need to have a horse with really really long legs. The only reason mine was OK is she was really jumpy, like she was really spooked so honestly don’t take her around kids.”
Aside from her love of hockey and the opportunities it afforded her, Fargey chose taking the sport more seriously for more pragmatic reasons. She said the cost of buying a new horse to compete was prohibitive and while she loves her current horse Bindy Bender, the old steed is just that — old.
“My horse was getting pretty old, so she needed a break,” Fargey laughed.
To continue “I would’ve had to have bought a new horse,” she said. “So that would’ve been a lot of money I don’t have.”
The name of Fargey’s horse is quite strange — as most horse names are — and she offered no explanation for what it means.
“I don’t know. We kind of just got her like that,” she said. “I don’t know, horses have weird names. Like, ‘Cash Money’ is a common name.”
Barrel racing is not even the only extra pastime Fargey mentioned.
“I do actually write a bit of poetry,” she said.
The rookie netminder went as far as to publish a few pieces of her writing while in junior high but maintains she is nothing more than an average barrel racer and poet.
“If you come out to Ponoka Rodeo you can see me barrel race this summer,” she said.
“It’ll be right there, you can meet my horse Bindy Bender — she bites,” she said.