doris Heintz has been on horseback as long as she can remember being alive.
“My mom used to go get the cows when she pregnant with me and my twin brother on her horse, so I’ve ridden horses, literally, all my life,” Heintz says.
the 82-year-old High river woman continues to ranch and compete at extreme cowboy racing — a timed event combining horsemanship and obstacles that mimic traditional ranching tasks — at an age when most folks are well into their retirement.
“What else is there to do?” Heintz says, “I’m not a good golfer.”
the great-grandmother raced for crowds gathered Friday at the Nutrien Western Event Centre for the Extreme dog & Pony race. Heintz expertly manoeuvred her horse, Happy Chuckles, through a series of obstacles including narrow bridges and jumps that eluded competitors many decades her junior.
She estimates she is the oldest rider competing in the event in the u.S. or Canada and is one of only two Canadians to have been inducted into the Extreme Cowboy Hall of Fame.
For the Heintz family, extreme cowboy racing is a family affair, with sometimes three generations of the clan competing in the same events around North america.
doris’s son, rock, says he doesn’t mind giving up a spot in the rankings — so long as it’s to a family member.
“until last year, we competed with my son, the three of us,” rock says. “I would rather lose a position to one of them than a stranger. If one of my family can beat me, place ahead of me, do better, then bravo.”
Doris Heintz, 82, competes in the Extreme Dog and Pony Race on Friday at the Calgary Stampede. Heintz is one of only two Canadians to have been inducted into the Extreme Cowboy Hall of Fame.