The Wills triplets, 18, live in Kamloops, BC and are a triple threat in the local rodeo scene. "We're know nin BC high school rodeos as being the Wills family, I guess we kind of stand out," says Lane. "People try to find different ways to tell us apart like they'll remember the colour of our shirt that day or something. It's hard though. I'd say we probably all look the same on the back of a horse," adds McKenzie.
The Wills sisters compete in barrel racing, riding their horses in a cloverleaf pattern around a set of barrels. With their horses, Salty, Zoom and Moe, all three competed in the provincial finals last year and would like to go pro. McKenzie: "The ultimate dream goal would be for all three of us to go together, that would be pretty cool — it's a lot of highs and lows in winning and losing."
It takes patience and consistent work to win at rodeo. Their dad Jeff, "I want to see them succeed because of all the effort that they put into it. And they work really hard at it." They love the thrill of the competition, but it takes a connection with a great horse to win. "You go in the zone and there's so much adrenaline. You don't hear anything. It's just you and your horse and it's a great feeling,' says McKenzie.
Winning is the ultimate goal, and the Wills sisters like to keep it in the family. McKenzie: "Sometimes I kind of tease them, 'you made me get third instead of second, I could have won more money' but it's a friendly tease, I'm happy to see them do good."
Rodeo is an important part of western ranching tradition and many families, including the Wills, are keen to keep it alive. The Wills used to have a thousand-acre ranch but it was pretty tough to make a living at it, so they downsized to a 10-acre farm.
But keeping a connection to the land and the livestock is important to them. "Ranching is hard work, bit it's rewarding too. I feel like people in the city kind of forget where their food is coming from and there's a rancher behind a ton of things; food, wheat, grains, beef and milk. Somebody's got to do it and there's a lot of people that still do it," says McKenzie.
Watch the Wills sisters compete at the National Rodeo Championships on Cowboy Up, Thursday, January 14 on CBC.
Photos: Charles Schrodt