Kaila Mussell.

Kaila Mussell: In the saddle

Chilliwack's Kaila Mussell, 33, as featured in The Chilliwack Progress Forty Under 40.

Kaila Mussell, 33, is living the dream as the only professional female saddle bronc rider on the continent.

“I’ve been rodeoing since I was 11 years old, so I’m going on 23 years of rodeo.”

It wasn’t really a stretch that she’d end up in professional rodeo.

“It may have been inevitable because my dad rodeoed, rode broncs and bulls, and my mom was a rodeo queen.”

She got into riding broncs after tiring of barrel racing. She was too old to ride steers but wanted to stay in the roughstock, and needed a new challenge.

“I was drawn to it because I didn’t know of any women that currently rode, especially in the modern style of saddle bronc riding,” she says.

Her dad and brother were riding at the time.

Mussell is literally breaking new ground on the circuit, and she knows it.

“I realize that I’m breaking ground. To be honest, I have only come across maybe half a dozen women that even say that they have got on, never mind ridden at a competitive level, over all the years that I’ve been riding.

“I am still the first and only female to earn her pro status as a saddle bronc rider.”

That alone makes her a role model.

“It has more recently hit me that I am a great role model for all people, proving that anything is possible if you set your mind to something and have the drive to carry it through.”

The droves of people friending her and commenting on Facebook have helped her recognize the support she has from everyone.

She’s injury-free after nursing and rehabbing a dislocated left shoulder last summer.

“It still is weak and I have to work hard at keeping it as strong as possible. I will likely require surgery again on it but am postponing that as long as possible.”

Keeping physically fit is crucial. Core and strength training are a big part of her fitness routine, along with running, interval training and stretching.

“You have to stay in shape to deal with the impact of the sport on your body, along with keeping you agile for what you do.”

Do young riders ask you for advice?

“It happens all the time. The best advice I have would be to make sure to follow your dreams if that is what you truly want, it doesn’t necessary have to do with riding broncs.

“Don’t let anyone crush your aspirations, believe in yourself and have enough faith in your abilities and know if you set your mind and heart to it, it could come to pass. Life is too short not to at least attempt that.”

She travelled down to Florida recently and has been rodeoing with Team Phoenix. How did you find Team Phoenix Rodeo?

“They found me.”

Team owner Jonetta Everano out of Rickland, Oregon was looking to expand the team and needed a saddle bronc rider.

“She was impressed with my abilities while competing down here in Florida.”

Mussell’s going for it while down south and will be back in the ‘Wack next month.

“Always be true to yourself. Only you know what you want and what works for you.

“This is your life, make the most of it!”