The rodeo community was left reeling after the sudden loss of one of their own on June 26, during a practice run of the wild horses stampede that is part of the Ponoka Stampede’s opening ceremonies.
Mary Lynn Ellingson, a Ponoka business owner, confirmed that the person who passed away was Alicia McKendrick, 34, of McKendrick Stable in Bentley.
Ellingson said while she didn’t know McKendrick personally, she heard through mutual friends and the rodeo community she is also a part of, of McKendrick’s passing at the Stampede Grounds.
After hearing about the tragedy, Ellingson is rallying those in the rodeo world, and outside of it, to honour McKendrick in a meaningful way.
A one-of-a-kind saddle has been collecting signatures of some prominent political and rodeo figures from central Alberta at Ellingson’s boutique, Redneck Barbie Inc., located insider River Bank Commons on 50 St. in Ponoka.
Among those who have signed the saddle are Red Deer-Lacombe MP Blaine Calkins, Ponoka Mayor Kevin Ferguson, Ponoka Stampede royalty and cowboys like Mervin Churchill Bob Robinson. Calkins actually jumped off his float in the Ponoka Stampede parade on June 30 to go and sign the saddle, according to Ellingson.
The saddle will be sold off during a silent auction, with the proceeds going to McKendrick Stable for future riders to carry on McKendrick’s legacy, said Ellingson.
McKendrick Stable announced in a Facebook post earlier this week that it was with the deepest sorrow that they were sharing the news of the passing of their “beloved Alicia.”
“Alicia was doing what she loved to do the most. We know how much each of you share our loss,” stated the post.
Facebook user Faye Paranich stated, “The world and horse community has lost the most beautiful soul I have ever met. We were devastated to hear of her passing.”
“Keep shining your light Alicia. Your job here on earth has come to pass but the hearts of many you filled along your way will need to be watched over,” posted Pam Windo-Vermette.
RCMP previously released that on June 26, just after 7 p.m., a woman was thrown from her horse and trampled by other horses. She succumbed to her injuries.
The Ponoka Stampede Association has not released the name of the woman who passed, saying in a statement on June 29, “At this point at and this stage the association is unable to release the rider’s name with respect to family and friends.”
President Jason Cline did confirm the association planned to honour her in some way before the Stampede was over. The last day is on July 3.
There will be a celebration of McKendrick’s life on July 6 at 11 a.m. at the new Bentley Community Hall.
“The equine community has lost a treasure,” said another Facebook user, Karen Arneson-Fischer, who said her daughter took lessons at the stable. “She touched many lives through her teaching.”