2017 Rodeo Queen of Australia to shine at NRCA National Rodeo Finals

Posted on November 02, 2016 by Janelle Barraclough

2017 Rodeo Queen of Australia to shine at NRCA National Rodeo Finals

The newly crowned Rodeo Queen of Australia, Bessie Smits, will make her first official appearance at the NRCA 2016 National Rodeo Finals at the Dalby Showgrounds, Queensland, this weekend. She will also help with presentations and appear throughout the day for photos and autographs.

“I cannot wait to make my debut as Rodeo Queen of Australia at such a prestigious event. It will be amazing to watch Australia's best rodeo athletes compete for a national title,” she said. Hailing from Perth but a country girl through and through, Ms Smits confesses she's smitten with the sport.

She's loved horses since she can remember, owning her first at age 10 when her family moved to rural Queensland. She became a serious show jumper, placing in the State's top 10 for a few rounds. “I had some great memories with my late father working at rodeos. My local pony club would volunteer and my father and I worked with the roping and rough stock,” Ms Smits said.

“He was not a horse or cattleman by any means, and you could see how uneasy he was opening the gates for the ranker bulls and horses after their rides. But he really demonstrated the endearing qualities of rodeo, which is getting out of your comfort zone and having a go no matter what.”

Ms Smits has recently been able to unleash her passion for rodeos after meeting her partner, who comes from a riding family.

“I have competed in barrel racing in the past but have found my calling recently in breakaway roping. What I love the most about the sport is the development and growth I have seen in my horse and myself as a horsewoman,” she says. “Rodeo produces tough people who are filled with endurance. Also, the atmosphere is absolutely breathtaking.”

Ms Smits said she was thrilled to be an ambassadress for the National Rodeo Council of Australia (NRCA) and the sport itself. In 2017, she will travel in Australia and overseas (for a 21-day whirlwind promotional tour through Canada and the US).

She said the Australian Rodeo Queen Quest, which started in 1992, was an amazing opportunity for women to build confidence and lifelong personal skills.

“It's a privilege to be the Rodeo Queen of Australia. We give children and young women a positive role model to aspire to, and I'm incredibly excited about my up and coming year,” Ms Smits said.

This Thursday locals in Dalby will get the opportunity to meet Ms Smits firsthand when she participates in a mini street parade to help promote this weekends National Rodeo Finals alongside ‘Monty’ the bullock as they roam Cunningham Street in the city centre. Western Downs Regional Council Mayor Paul McVeigh Mayor will also be in attendance for a Meet n Greet at Dalby Shopping World from 3.30pm.

* The NRCA is the first organisation made up and run by a united body of rodeo associations nationally. The not for profit actively promotes the sport of rodeo in Australia. The NRCA also helps members with insurance, training and safety, animal welfare, and information on government regulations and policies.

For more details, contact Janelle Barraclough on (02) 6737 3777 or Visit the website on

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Australia's best riders to vie for titles at NRCA 2016 National Rodeo Finals

Posted on October 31, 2016 by Janelle Barraclough

Australia's best riders to vie for titles at
NRCA 2016 National Rodeo Finals

The country's top cowboys and cowgirls will converge at the Dalby Showgrounds in Queensland to compete at the prestigious NRCA 2016 National Rodeo Finals (November 4-6).

Crowds can expect breathtaking performances as some of this year's sizzling line up includes junior riders Haider Alhaznawi and Dunhill Abriol, open bull and saddle event sensation A J Riley, Jesse Glass and Matt Bee in the open bull ride, saddle bronc riders John McNamee and Brad Meagher, world rated bareback rider Dave Worsvold, 2014 and 2015 NRCA Australian Bareback Champion Dinny Moran,champion cowgirl’s Rachael Little and Teal Ayers and 18-year-old Ben Walsh, who's had a meteoric rise since he started riding in 2015.

Dinny Moran on Harlem Shuffle. Photo: Dave Ethell
QRA 2016 Novice Bull, Juvenile Bareback & Juvenile Bull Champion Ben Walsh
Photo: Yvonne Finger
“The National Rodeo Council of Australia finals event showcases the best competitors from five different rodeo associations. All compete for the coveted NRCA Australian champion buckle in each rodeo discipline,” says NRCA Chairman Pat Staines.
“The event is particularly thrilling because cowboys and cowgirls from isolated areas who may not have had the chance to attend some of the bigger rodeos can finally test their mettle and their finals' aspirations.”
The Queensland Rodeo Association is an NRCA member, QRA Director Yvonne Finger said the National Rodeo Finals event helps to inspire and entertain people of all ages.
“Rodeo is an integral social event on community calendars. It's an event that allows people of all ages to have a night out and relax, and gives young people a controlled environment to go to,” she said.
“Many tourists visit for the novelty, which is fantastic as tourism brings business to small communities.”
Competitor event highlights to watch out for:
  • there will be a classy line-up of young guns in the Junior Bulls 
  • bull, saddle and bareback will be hotly contested events, right down to the last rodeo
  • many of the riders have a long tradition of rodeo riding in their families
  • many competitors travel from far and wide to attend the finals event
“Rodeo is a high adrenaline sport,” says NRCA General Manager Janelle Barraclough.
“It provides spectators with insight into Australian rural life and entertainment outside of the box as they watch man versus beast battle it out in the arena or race against the clock to see who comes out on top. It’s raw, it’s gutsy and that’s what people want to see.”
The Rodeo finals will also include the Unique Horseman Colt Starting Challenge, the Dalby Ute Muster, the Hopes n Dreams Pink Lady Barrel Classic and an appearance by the NRCA's Rodeo Queen of Australia Miss Bessie Smits.
* The NRCA is the first organisation made up and run by a united body of rodeo associations nationally. Formed in 1992, the not for profit actively promotes the sport of rodeo in Australia. The NRCA also helps members with insurance, training and safety, animal welfare, and information on government regulations and policies.

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Top class stock a highlight of the NRCA 2016 National Rodeo Finals

Posted on October 30, 2016 by Janelle Barraclough

Top class stock a highlight of the NRCA
2016 National Rodeo Finals

When it comes to rodeos, we often forget to pay homage to the sport's other 'stars' – the horses and bulls, says legendary figure Colin McTaggart. 
With less than seven days to go before this year's NRCA National Rodeo Finals in Dalby, Mr McTaggart said the bucking stock for the event were being supplied by some of the best contractors in Australia.
“The cowboys and cowgirls may be the stars of the rodeo. But without the horses and bulls, they wouldn't get very far. The quality of stock at the finals event every year ensures a spectacular contest in all the rodeo disciplines as they are of the highest and toughest standard,” he said.
“One of this year's bull contractors is Ryan Allen from Roma in Queensland. He lays claim to the 2016 Queensland Rodeo Association Bucking Bull of the year, 'Supercharged Slinkey', so we can look forward to some edge-of-your-seat action there and elsewhere.”

Fraser Babbington aboard 'Supercharged Slinkey' @ Warwick 87pts
Photo: Bubblez babbereto
Mr McTaggart is the Director of the National Rodeo Council of Australia (NRCA) and the President of Rodeo Services Association (RSA).

Hailing from a highly accomplished family of rodeo riders, he began competing in 1953. During his illustrious career, he claimed five Australian and many state titles.

One of Mr McTaggart's greatest contributions to the sport has been the recent introduction of the annual Unique Horseman Colt Starting Challenge at the NRCA National Rodeo Finals.

“The welfare of our stock is paramount to all our contractors and competitors,” Mr McTaggart said.

“The NRCA, and its member associations and affiliates, abide by a strict government animal welfare code of practice. We're committed to the proper care and treatment of all animals used for display, competition and exhibition in rodeo. 

“The Unique Horseman Colt Starting Challenge is an important event to help us achieve this goal. It not only showcases the incredible talents of our great horseman and women, but educates others on the most masterful and gentle ways to handle unbroken horses.”
NRCA Director & Rodeo Services President Colin McTaggart
The NRCA 2016 National Rodeo Finals will be held 4-6 November at the Dalby Showgrounds in Queensland.
For more details, contact Janelle Barraclough:
Phone: (02) 6737 3777

* The NRCA is the first organisation made up and run by a united body of rodeo associations nationally. Formed in 1992, the not for profit actively promotes the sport of rodeo in Australia. The NRCA also assists members with insurance, training and safety, animal welfare, and information on government regulations and policies

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NRCA 2016 National Rodeo Finals promises 3-days of explosive action in Dalby

Posted on October 30, 2016 by Janelle Barraclough

Australia's ultimate rodeo event is again set to electrify crowds with nail-biting thrills, spills and spectacular showmanship at the Dalby Showgrounds in Queensland (November 4-6).

The 2016 National Rodeo Finals, hosted by the National Rodeo Council of Australia (NRCA), focuses on delivering value-for-money entertainment for families. Highlights will include Ashton circus performers, amusement rides, a country and western trade fair and a food alley along with the exhilarating National Rodeo Finals event, showcasing two nights of non-stop action from some of the country's finest rodeo riders.

Photo Credit: Dave Ethell Photos

NRCA General Manager Janelle Barraclough said she was expecting another record-breaking crowd.

“We're in for an amazing on-the-edge-of-your-seat display of skills from our most talented cowboys and cowgirls. From the fast paced action of the ladies in the barrel race, to the thrills and spills of the rough stock bull riding and bronc rides, the 2016 finals is jam packed with a number of crowd-pleasing events,” she said. 

Now in its 23rd year, the finals' line up will also feature:

  • the Unique Horseman Colt Starting Challenge (10-3pm each day). This year will see the introduction of the Cowboy Up Challenge, where over 3 days, 3 legends and 3 young guns jostle for supremacy in the art of handling and starting unbroken young horses.
  • the Dalby Ute Muster (Saturday, 5 November, from 3-4pm. Gates open 2pm).
  • the Hopes n Dreams Pink Lady Barrel Classic (Sunday morning, 5 November, at 9am)
  • the glitz and glamour of the NRCA's very own Rodeo Queen of Australia Miss Bessie Smits who will be making a special appearance and will also lead the grand entry.

Photo Credit: Mel Spittall

Since Australia held its first official rodeo in the 1920’s, the sport has progressed from a country field day event to one that attracts crowds from all walks of life. 

NRCA General Manager, Janelle Barraclough says,“It's the traditional sport of the bush. Rodeos are particularly important to rural communities because they teach participants the everyday skills they need to properly handle and care for their animals on their farm or station,” she said. 

Western Downs Regional Council Spokesperson for Economic Development Donna Ashurst said Dalby was excited to host the National Rodeo Finals for the fourth consecutive year.

"Our community truly comes alive when the rodeo comes to town. Not only do the finals add to the vibrancy of our region, the event allows residents and visitors alike to experience our great country hospitality along with Dalby's many historic and natural attractions,” Ms Ashurst said. 

Dalby Town Centre. Photo credit: Western Downs Regional Council

* The NRCA is the first organisation made up and run by a united body of rodeo associations nationally. Formed in 1992, the not for profit actively promotes the sport of rodeo in Australia. The NRCA also assists members with insurance, training and safety, animal welfare, and information on government regulations and policies.

For more details, contact Janelle Barraclough on: (02) 6737 3777, or For more information on attractions in Dalby and the Western Downs, visit or like the Facebook Page @ourwesterndown.


Posted in Bessie Smits, Bull Riding, Cowboys, Cowgirls, Dalby, Dalby National Rodeo Finals, Dalby Ute Muster, Deni Ute Muster, National Rodeo Council, National Rodeo Finals, PBR, Rodeo, Rodeo in Australia, The Unique Horseman, Ute Muster, Warwick National Rodeo Finals

National Finals Surpasses All Expectations!

Posted on November 02, 2015 by Janelle Barraclough

30thOctober – 1st November, DALBY QLD

The 2015 NRCA National Rodeo Finals surpassed all expectations this year with a record crowd of up to 8,000 attending the event at the DALBY Showgrounds 30th October – 1st November!

Tipped as one of the best rodeos in Australia, it looks like the National Rodeo Council is well on its way to retaining its crown as the ultimate rodeo event.

The undercover venue was at full capacity delivering a superb viewing platform for spectators, providing an electric atmosphere throughout both nights. This years NRF competitors delivered some thrilling rides including Victorian Cowboy Adam Hinkley on Friday night in the Open Bull; Adam who has just returned from riding in Canada, was the last rider of the night to score 84 in a sensational show of cowboy skill, also winning on the Saturday night with a score of 81, securing him the 2015 Open Bull Riding Champion title.

The string of bucking horses supplied by Rick Knudsen and the Gill Bros. were outstanding with some exceptional rides and scores made during the two days of National Finals competition including John Turvey from St George, QLD who scored 74 in Friday Nights Open Saddle Bronc competition. Not to be left behind, the timed events also experienced some remarkable times with Roma cowboy Coben Ayres making a freakish catch in 2.8 seconds in the junior breakaway on Saturday night to clinch the title of 2015 Junior Breakaway Roping Champion.

Competitors travelled from as far as Western Australian, Victoria, New South Wales and the Northern Territory, with one rodeo family; mum and five children, horses and dog travelling all the way from Palmerston in the Northern Territory, that is dedication!

Rodeo Queen of Australia Latoya Wards lead the grand entry in an elegant display of horsemanship and class. Nicknamed ‘the Pied Piper’ of rodeo, she was never left alone throughout the course of the weekend, with a string of children in her wake requesting autographs and photos. Latoya also helped promote the event visiting local shopping centre and school Dalby South State School much to the delight of the children and as a result, we might just see some up and coming junior rodeo queens from Dalby in the near future.

Entertainer and crowd favourite, Mik Oberle whipped the crowd into a frency on completion of the buckles presentation on Saturday night with spectators and cowboys whooping it up to the tunes of some of your favourite country artists. We also saw some fancy footwork from several of the locals who seemed to be having the time of their life at the event and as an organiser of rodeo this is exactly what we like to see, fun times had by all!

Support from the Dalby community for the National Rodeo Finals weekend has been tremendous despite the lack of sponsorship from local business. This is the second time the National Rodeo Finals event has been held in the township of Dalby and with the continued support of the locals and the Dalby Chamber of Commerce, the National Rodeo Council intends to continue its National Rodeo Finals event in the region.

In addition to the excitement of National Finals, ‘The Unique Horseman’ Australian Colt Starting Challenge, which is held as an add on to the National Finals Event is also held over three day sessions during the course of the weekend. The original concept was developed by Colin McTaggart, who first came up with the idea to provide a means of helping horsemen and women understand a gentler way of breaking in horses through a competition.

The event gives horseman a chance to showcase their talents and technique while educating people about horses with specators also given the opportunity to participate by asking questions during the competition. Colin, along with his daughter Kim McTaggart, have now made this an annual competition which is gaining more support each year. This years winners included Dan Steers (Young Guns), Clayton Evans (The Legends) and Dylan Wall (Peoples Choice Award).

2015 NRCA Australian Rodeo Champions included:

Open Bull Ride – ADAM HINKLEY, Colac VIC
Open Saddlebronc – LUKE CHAPLAIN, Cloncurry QLD
Open Bareback – DINNY MORAN, Tara QLD

Team Roping Header – TOM MORRISON, Chinchilla QLD
Team Roping Heeler – DUNHILL ABRIOL, Roma QLD
Steer Wrestling – MARK HOGNO, One Mile QLD

Rope & Tie – KOLT FERGUSON, Cloncurry QLD

Ladies Barrel Race – TEAL AYERS, Roma QLD

Ladies Breakaway Roping – KATRINA HICKEY, Georgetown QLD

Junior Barrel- KATELYN SIMPSON, Palmerston NT

Junior Breakaway- COBEN AYERS, Roma QLD

Junior Bareback-BEN WALSH, Roma QLD

Junior Bull Ride – CAMERON SOUTHERN, Thallon QLD

Allround Cowgirl – TEAL AYERS, Roma QLD
Allround Cowboy – KOLT FERGUSON Cloncurry QLD


Thank you to Major Sponsors of the 2015 National Rodeo Council of Australia National Rodeo FInals: Channel Seven, Dalby Herald, Hot Fm, Western Trading Company, Rodeo Services Association, Wangrah Wilderness Lodge, Western Downs Regional Council, Oakey Abbatoirs and Kobbers Motor Inn. Special mention this year must go out to our Chairman Pat Staines who not only announced at both nights of the National Finals event he also announced all day Friday, Saturday AND Sunday at the Unique Horseman competition, tremendous effort!!


ABOUT NATIONAL RODEO COUNCIL OF AUSTRALIA (NRCA) The National Rodeo Council of Australia (NRCA) is the first non-profit organisation made up and run by a united body of rodeo associations nationally. Formed in 1992 to further the sport of rodeo, the National Rodeo Council of Australia provides assistance to members in administration, access to a national insurance scheme, training and safety programs, animal welfare and up to date government regulations and policies. The major goal and objectives for the NRCA has always been to have one voice, representing rodeo at government level by eliminating the confusion of separate groups making individual representations and to work alongside each member Association to actively promote the sport of rodeo in Australia.   Each year a National Finals event is conducted bringing together the top riders from each of the member Associations creating a 'Truly Unique' Australian National Rodeo Finals event.The National Rodeo Finals event, is the only event of it’s kind to bring together individual Rodeo Associations to compete for the one championship title.

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Posted on October 29, 2015 by Janelle Barraclough


2015 Rodeo Queen of Australia Miss Latoya Wards will be jetting into Dalby later today as part of a whirlwind tour of the region to help promote this weekends National Rodeo Finals to be held at the Dalby Showgrounds 30th October – 1st November.

As Rodeo Queen of Australia, Miss Wards plays a pivotal role in the promotion of rodeo and travels extensively throughout the country and abroad encouraging participation in the sport through a number of planned promotions and appearances.

While in Dalby, Latoya will be visiting local schools, nursing homes and shopping centres to help raise awareness about the event.

Latoya first became involved in the sport back in 2007 when her Dad introduced her to then Rodeo Queen of Australia, Miss Rochelle Harrison. She vividly recalls her conversation with Rochelle who told her she would make an amazing Queen and ever since that fateful meeting, she has always held the thought in the back of her mind.

It took until 2013 when Latoya met another Rodeo Queen of Australia Miss Danielle Quinsee (who also encouraged her to enter the competition) and she was sold, entering the quest soon after.

Miss Wards says, “I entered the Australian Rodeo Queen Quest because I wanted to become a public figure and be a role model for my sister, to show her that if you work hard you can be what ever you want to be especially when you have to start at the bottom.”

The Australian Rodeo Queen Quest helps empower rural women by encouraging them to get active in sport and in their community. It is designed to open new windows of opportunities by teaching women the importance of self-worth, confidence, deportment and how to represent themselves in a positive manner.

Latoya currently competes in the ladies barrel race event on her Quarter Horse ‘Cruisee’ and what she love’s most is that everyone shares the same passion for the sport and their horses. She also enjoys the adrenalin rush that comes with competing and the bond you forge with your horse.

This year will be the first time she has attended a National Rodeo Finals event and she is absolutely thrilled to be a part of the show by making her debut as Rodeo Queen of Australia while leading the grand entry carrying the Australian flag.

Aside from participating in the grand entry, her most important role is to be a positive role model for women in rodeos by inspiring them to believe that anything is possible with hard work and dedication.

Latoya’s next promotion will be at Rokewood rodeo in Victoria on the 21st of November where she will be involved with the grand entry and the crowning of the Rokewood rodeo ‘Mr and Miss Rodeo’ competition in addition to the ‘Tiny Tots’ and ‘Princesses and Princes’ competition.

2015 Rodeo Queen of Australia Miss Latoya Wards will be available for photos and autograph signing at this weekends National Rodeo Finals event for both sessions; Friday and Saturday Night. Latoya says, “I'm so excited to meet everyone and show Australia why I'm proud to represent them as Australia's Rodeo Queen.” Don’t miss out!

Posted in Australian Rodeo Queen, Australian Rodeo Queen Quest, Dalby Rodeo, Latoya Wards, Miss Rodeo Australia, National Finals, National Rodeo Finals, Rodeo Queen, Rodeo Queen of Australia

Australian Rodeo Legend heads for Dalby National Rodeo Finals!

Posted on October 27, 2015 by Janelle Barraclough


National Rodeo Council director and President of Rodeo Services Association, Colin McTaggart needs no introduction to rodeo competitors and fans.

Hailing from a family deeply entrenched in rodeo
and western pleasure, Colin’s involvement in the sport has always been a family tradition. His father Hilton was Australasian Buckjump Champion in 1931 followed by elder brother Kevin who won Australian titles in buckjump riding, bareback riding and bullock riding, while brother Max won many state titles in rough stock and timed events.

Next brother in line, Malcolm won a few buckjump and bullock rides but he was a true bushman and that was the life he lived, far from the city lights.
Colin first started competing in 1953 and entered his last rodeo ride in 1979 claiming five Australian titles and many state titles during his illustrious rodeo career. Younger brother Bruce was a good all rounder who won a lot of state titles also.
The McTaggart brothers were fiercely competitive with Colin, Kevin and Bruce all winning open bronc rides at Warwick Rodeo; the only three brothers to ever achieve this feat.
Some of Col’s most memorable moments in the sport included winning the open buckjump at Rockhampton in 1954, which proved to be a great confidence booster to help kick start his career. He moved on to win every major saddle bronc ride in Australia except for Mount Isa, and it was here where he experienced his most cherished win when he finally won in 1969.

Photo Credit: Colin McTaggart, Warwick Rodeo QLD

When asked, 'How has rodeo changed today from when you first started?' Col recalls, “Rodeo has changed a lot over the years. When I first started, the arena’s were as big as the campdraft arenas and very hard; there were no ploughed up or sand filled arena’s in those days. Now there are better conditions for livestock and competitors, they have smaller arena’s, which are either ploughed or sand filled and contract stock has also seen a big improvement for the welfare of animals used in rodeo.”

Colin’s heroes during his earlier competitive years were Bernie Smythe Sr, Alan Bennett, Alan Woods and his brother Kevin McTaggart.
Colin wins the buckjump competition at Boggabilla Rodeo, aboard 'Tornado', Photo W. Lee
When Colin first started in rodeo, he was unsure how long he would be connected with the sport, however during his involvement, it became his life and for that, he decided to put something back into the sport just as he had drawn from it from competing to promoting rodeos, to running a rodeo association for 60 years. “I feel I have at least repaid some of it back,” says Colin.

When asked ‘Do you have any advice or tips for young rodeo competitors competing in rodeo today?’ Colin responded, “I think the young wannabes of today have a great advantage over us
when we first started riding, competitors today have the choice of professional instructors who run schools to get them started the correct way and advise them on the right equipment to use.”

As we draw closer to this weekend’s National Rodeo Finals, Col says, “To qualify for the National Rodeo Finals is a great achievement and a bonus for competitors who put a lot of effort into their yearly competition. It is a great honour to win a national title.”

In addition to his duties as Rodeo Manager for the National Rodeo Council of Australia (NRCA) National Rodeo Finals event, Colin recently introduced another great add-on event to the show with the Unique Horseman Australian Colt Starting Challenge.

Col says, “For a lot of years I have held the belief that we have many great horsemen and women in Australia which is why we started the Unique Horseman competition to showcase their skills to the public. My daughter Kim McTaggart will run the overall Challenge and I will be there to support her wherever I can. This year there is a great line-up of Legend Horsemen and Young Guns, (6) six in total who will be handling unbroken horses with their own individual styles and techniques while (3) judges watch and score each of them over (3) three days.

Widely praised for his dedication and commitment to the sport of rodeo and revered by his piers and the younger generation alike; Col McTaggart is a true gentleman of the sport and a one of a kind truly unique Australian Cowboy!

Posted in Colin McTaggart, Dalby Rodeo, National Finals, National Rodeo Finals, The Unique Horseman