Top 10 – Greatest Barrel Racers in Canadian History

Photo: Lindsay Sears by Covy Moore/

CALGARY, Alberta — Even though both Wacey Anderson and myself aren’t barrel racers, well I’m not anyway, we had a lot of fun making this list with our friends Cassie Hausauer from Lipstick & Cowboy Boots and Canadian Champion Rana Koopmans

We didn’t quite get the right names onto the show after learning a few stats after the fact in the 9th and 10th spots so our apologies. The good news is that this list can be updated as the years go on. 

What I want to do with Cowboy Sh*t the Podcast is create conversation and create entertainment. This show should do both of those things. 

Previously, we’ve counted down the following:

Top 10: The Greatest Bull Riders in Canadian History

Top 10: Greatest Saddle Bronc Riders in Canadian History

Top 10: The Greatest Steer Wrestlers in Canadian History

Below is a rundown of the points system we used to rank the Top 10. We went this way based on points to make it objective. We didn’t change rankings over the years or different eras of competition.

Our objective was to rank the greatest barrel racers ever from Canada against the best in the world.

  1. World Titles – 100 points
  2. NFR Aggregate Titles/PRCA Season Leader – 40 points
  3. NFR Qualifications – 20 points
  4. Canadian Titles – 10 points
  5. CFR Qualifications – 2 points


So without further adieu, here’s the list. 


9. (tie) – Viola Thomas – 36 points

Three Canadian titles (30) and three + CFR Qualifications (6)

Raised on a ranch southwest of Calgary, Viola Thomas rode her horse to school until she went to the big city for high school and college. By the time she was a teenager she had won many trophies in competitive cross country trail and horse show events.
In 1957 she left the show ring for the rodeo arena, but she did not begin her rodeo career as a barrel racer.

She trained and used her horses for the Steer Decorating event which preceded today’s Steer Wrestling event. Several titles were won by contestants using Viola’s team. In 1958 she began entering the barrel racing and won the Canadian title in her first year. She won again in 1959, then took a year to compete in the United States, and came back to win her third Canadian Barrel Racing Championship in 1961.

Viola then was an accomplished jockey on the Quarter Horse and Thoroughbred tracks in Alberta and California. In 1968 Viola was selected to represent Canada by riding in the International Thoroughbred Derby. There she won a silver medal for her country. She was the first woman to be licensed as a jockey on an A track in Alberta. She was soon licensed in BC, Saskatchewan and Washington state as well.

Viola has been a range rider for a ranch in BC and a trail guide in Jasper National Park. Viola Thomas can truly say that everything she has today was earned on the back of a horse. 

Courtesy Canadian Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame Class of 2014


9. (tie) Dawn Rude (Link) – 36 points

Two Canadian Titles (20) and eight CFR Qualifications (16)


8. Carol Wilson (Barr) – 46 points

Two Canadian Titles (20), one NFR qualification (20), and three CFR Qualifications (6)


7. Dee Butterfield – 52 points 

One Canadian Title (10), one WNFR qualification (20) and 11 CFR Qualifications (22)

Dee Watt was raised on a working cattle ranch, just west of Williams Lake, BC, at a place called Big Creek. She started riding at age 3 and by age 4 she was wrangling on 30 mile cattle drives. At age 11 she learned about barrel racing from a book by Jane Mayo. She entered her first rodeo at age 12 and was a serious competitor at the age of 14. Able to ride and rope as well as any man, she earned the nickname of “Cowboy” from the local Native cowboys.

Dee also rode English until the age of 16, as her grandmother had the first English riding academy in Western Canada. She trained and raced her own horses, competing in the amateur circuits and the CGRA where she collected 15 championships.
When Dee was 18 she held her first barrel racing clinic and instantly had a passion for teaching.

Dee qualified for the first CFR, in 1974. The next year she moved to Alberta and qualified for the NFR. In the 80’s, Dee married Craig Butterfield and Ponoka became her home. Craig and Dee soon started to focus on their horse breeding program, looking to produce great barrel horses.

In 1992 Dee Butterfield was crowned Canadian Champion Barrel Racer. 1994 would be Dee’s 11th and final year as a CFR contestant. During those 11 finals, she had qualified on 5 different horses.

Dee has served as a director of the BC IRA board and the CGRA board. She was the first barrel racing director of the CPRA and was instrumental in barrel racing getting equal money as the major events.

In 1975, Dee was named Canadian Pro Rodeo Woman of the Year during International Women’s Year celebrations. In 2006 she was the recipient of the Bill Kehler Award at the Ponoka Stampede.

Dee teaches clinics across Canada, the US and Australia. Her students have included World Champion Lindsay Sears, Calgary Stampede Champion Jill Besplug, and Canadian Champion Gaylene Buff. Her students have ranged in age from 4 years to 65 years.

Dee Butterfield is a remarkable horsewoman and a legend in the world of barrel racing. 

Courtesy Canadian Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame Class of 2015


6. Carman Pozzobon – 74 points 

One Canadian title (10), one WNFR Qualification (20), one WNFR Aggregate title (40) and two CFR qualifications (4)


5. Ruth McDougall – 86 points 

Five Canadian titles (50), one WNFR qualification (20) and eight CFR qualifications (16)

Starting in 1983, the year ladies barrel racing joined the CPRA, Ruth placed in the top two at the CFR for eight consecutive years. Five of those years saw her win the championship title and an unprecedented three in a row from 1987 to 1989.

She was equally successful competing at the NFR in Las Vegas, Nev. She was the ladies barrel racing champion at the Calgary Stampede in 1986.

Ruther lived in Oklahoma until her passing on November 27, 2016.

Courtesy Canadian Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame Class of 2009


4. Rayel Little (Robinson) – 120 points 

Four Canadian titles (40), two WNFR qualifications (40) and 20 CFR qualifications (40)

A four-time Canadian Barrel Racing Champion, Rayel Little also qualified for the NFR on two separate occasions.

For two decades, Rayel consistently qualified for the Canadian Finals Rodeo (CFR). A horse trainer by trade, Rayel trained five horses to qualify for the CFR in a single year. For three consecutive years from 2005 to 2007, she won the Ponoka Stampede. Something no other contestant has accomplished to date.

Today, Rayel continues to train barrel horses and spends her winters in the real estate business, in Arizona. Rayel and her husband call Thorsby, Alberta home, when they are not in Arizona.

Courtesy Canadian Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame Class of 2017


3. Jerri Duce – 168 points

Nine Canadian titles (90), three WNFR qualifications (60) and 9 CFR qualifications (18)

Jerri Duce, born in Claresholm, Alberta in December 1951, is the daughter of Frank and Rose Duce.

Her first Canadian Championship in the Barrel Racing Event was at the tender age of twelve. She went on to win the women’s event a total of nine times, on three different horses. She was the first Canadian to qualify for the NFR in 1973 and qualified in 1976 and 77.

Jerri started trick riding with her sister Joy when she was nine years old, they were originally named “Sister Act” which was changed to the more recognizable title of “The Flying Duces”. They performed North America-wide, including the World’s Fair, Expo 1967 in Montreal, Quebec. State Fair Rodeos in Louisville, Kentucky; Indianapolis, Indiana, Rochester, Minnesota, Fort Worth, Texas, also the Cow Palace in San Francisco, California and Madison Square Gardens in New York. They also performed abroad in England and Scotland in 1981, Bermuda in 1988 and Japan in 1991.

Jerri was Miss Rodeo Canada in 1975. She went on to be a rodeo queen judge for Miss World Rodeo in 1981, in Australia.

During her rodeo career, she won a total of 16 trophy saddles, numerous buckles, horse trailers, six bronzes and four commemorative Winchester trophy rifles.

Jerri lives near Okotoks, AB., where she trains horses and works in the film industry as a “wrangler” and a “stunt person.”

Courtesy Canadian Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame Class of 1997


2. Deb Guelly (Renger) – 214 points 

Five Canadian titles (50), six WNFR qualifications (120), and 22 CFR Qualifications (44)

2015 World Standings place: 15th
2015 Wrangler NFR place: 12th
2015 Wrangler NFR earnings: $4,231
2015 Earnings: $74,000
Career earnings: $499,642

Born: Oct. 13, 1968, in Fort St. John, British Columbia
Residence: Okotoks, Alberta
Joined WPRA: 1992
Horses: Docs Flashy Scooter “Scooter” (11-year old); Royal Star Commander “Commander” (9-year old gelding) – Sire: AR Star/Dam: Go Royal Scarlett
Wrangler NFR qualifications: 6 (1995, 1999, 2004, 2007-08, 2015)
Tour Finale qualifications: 7
Pace Chute-out: 2004, 2006
Caldwell Round: 2007-08
Puyallup Round: 2007-08
Omaha Round: 2004

2015 Highlights
• Finished the year ranked 15th in the world with $74,000.
• Won the Tri-State Rodeo (Amarillo, Texas)
• Finished second at the Sanders County Fair & PRCA Rodeo (Plains, Mont.)
• Finished second at the Moses Lake (Wash.) Round-Up
• Won the Medicine Hat (Alberta) Stampede
• Won the Ogden (Utah) Pioneer Days Rodeo
• Won the Boundary County Pro Rodeo (Bonners Ferry, Idaho)
• Won the Grand Prairie (Alberta) Stompede
• Finished second at the Ramona (Calif.) Rodeo
Career Highlights
• 2014 – Finished the year ranked 70th with $14,008 at 50 rodeos.
• 2013 – Finished the year ranked 74th with $12,444
• 2012 – Finished the year ranked 192nd with $4,351.
• 2011 – Finished the year ranked 49th with $24,312.
• 2010 – Won the Dawson Creek (B.C.) Stampede.
• 2009 – Finished 25th in the world with $36,403. Won rodeo in High River (Alberta).
• 2008 – Finished the year ranked 15th in the world with $66,284. Won $7,302 at the Wrangler NFR after finishing seventh in the average; won the Frontier Days Rodeo (Walla Walla, Wash.) and the Redding (Calif.) Rodeo.
• 2007 – Won her fifth Canadian National Finals Rodeo (Edmonton, Alberta) by winning two rounds and placing in two others; was co-champion at the Poway (Calif.) Coors Rodeo; won the Kern County Fair and Rodeo (Bakersfield, Calif.), the Olds (Alberta) Fair & Rodeo, the Strathmore (Alberta) Stampede and the SW District Fat Stock Show and Rodeo (Lake Charles, La.); finished the year ranked seventh in the world with $110,367. Finished second in the average and won $53,942 at the Wrangler NFR.
• 2006 – Broke her femur at the Puyallup (Wash.) Rodeo; won the Whoop-Up Days Pro Rodeo (Lethbridge, Alberta), the High Prairie (Alberta) Elks Pro Rodeo, the Frontier Days ProRodeo (Swift Current, Saskatchewan), the Sundre (Alberta) Pro Rodeo and the Wrangler ProRodeo Tour Round at the Laughlin (Nev.) River Stampede, was o-champion at the San Antonio (Texas) Stock Show and Rodeo.
• 2005 – Co-champion at Bell County Youth Fair & Livestock Show and PRCA Rodeo (Belton, Texas).
• 2004 – Won the Wrangler ProRodeo Tour Round and average titles at Rodeo Austin (Texas); won the average title at Greeley (Colo.) Rocky Mountain Stampede and the Caldwell (Idaho) Night Rodeo; was a finalist at the Pace Picante ProRodeo Chute-out (Las Vegas) and finished fourth at Pace Picante ProRodeo Challenge (Omaha, Neb.); finished the 12th in the world standings with $82,373.
• 2003 – Canadian Rodeo Tour champion.
• 2000 – Canadian barrel racing champion (also in 1995-96, 1998).
• 1999 – Canadian Professional Rodeo Association season leader; Alberta circuit champion (also in 1995, 1998); Saskatchewan circuit champion (1997-98).
• 1998 – Canadian Finals Rodeo aggregate champion (1996-97).
• 1996 – Wrangler circuit champion.

Graduated from Hudson Hope with 13 students…Has been a member of the CPRA for 24 years (1992-2015)…Hobbies include riding horses… Parents are Norm and Val Guelly and she has four sisters… Went to the NFR aboard a horse named Reiner that she got in November of 2002. Scooter is related to Reiner (Scooter carried Deb to the 2015 NFR). In 2015, Deb also rode three-time NFR qualifier Ruth Haislip’s horse, Commander… Favorite movie is Seabiscuit and favorite music is country… Played in a women’s hockey league in Canada… Owns the record for barrel racing in the CPRA with 20 consecutive CFR’s from 1992-2011… Has 22 CFR qualifications overall.




1. Lindsay Sears – 394 points 

Two World titles (200), seven WNFR qualifications (140), one WNFR aggregate title (40), seven CFR qualifications (14)

Sears joined the WPRA in 2000. She won the World Barrel Racing Championship at the NFR in 2008 and 2011. She was the first Canadian to win a world championship. She also won the NFR Average title in 2011. She has qualified for the NFR seven times, from 2006-2012. She has won championships at major rodeos like Cheyenne Frontier Days in Cheyenne, Wyoming, RodeoHouston in Houston, Texas, and the Calgary Stampede in Calgary, Alberta. As of 2017, her total career earnings are $1,558,667.

Her horse Sugar Moon Express, nicknamed “Martha”, won the 2008 AQHA/WPRA Barrel Horse of the Year Award. She came in third place in 2009. In 2017, Martha was 17 years old. Martha is a sorrel mare by Dr. Nick Bar and out of Babys Blue Jeans. She also has another horse whose name is Ima Guy of Honor, nicknamed Moe, who was 14 years old in 2017. He is a bay gelding out of Frenchmans Guy and by Dontunderestimateher.

Sears bought Martha from trainer Dena Kirkpatrick. The mare had just completed her futurity year. Sears was prepared to season her throughout 2006. However, unknown to Sears, Martha already had her green light on go, as a “green”. Martha was 6 years old, while Sears was 25 years old at the time. Martha took her to the NFR that year, but an injury took the horse out before the actual event. When Martha was 100 percent again, she took Sears to the NFR in 2008 and win 5 of 10 rounds and more money in one event, $119,225, than any other competitor.

Courtesy Wikipedia



Full list built and researched by Cassie Hausauer of Lipstick & Cowboy


LINDSAY SEARS 7 14 0 0 7 140 1 40 2 200 394 1
DEB GUELLY 22 44 5 50 6 120   0   0 214 2
JERRI DUCE 9 18 9 90 3 60   0   0 168 3
RAYEL LITTLE 20 40 4 40 2 40   0   0 120 4
RUTH MCDOUGALL 8 16 5 50 1 20   0   0 86 5
CARMAN POZZOBON 2 4 1 10 1 20 1 40   0 74 6
DEE BUTTERFIELD 11 22 1 10 1 20   0   0 52 7
CAROL WILSON 3 6 2 20 1 20   0   0 46 8
Viola Thomas 3 6 3 30             36 9
Dawn Rude 8 16 2 20   0   0   0 36 10
RAYLEE WALTER 12 24 1 10   0   0   0 34 11
ISABELLA MILLER 7 14 2 20   0   0   0 34 12
Nancy Csabay 7 14 2 20   0   0   0 34 13



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