The Canadian rodeo scene and the glitz of Hollywood seem to be two contrasting worlds, but those are worlds that Katie Garthwaite has managed to merge.
The Merritt, B.C. resident has been participating in rodeo activities ever since she was a young child, helping her parents out with the animals on their ranch. But now Garthwaite also works as a stunt woman on the set of major films like The Revenant.
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Her husband, Mike Garthwaite, worked on movie sets before she did and discovered her ability to do complex stunts through him.
“He was working on the movie called Warcraft and texted me and asked me if I could fall off my horse.
“At the time he was making quite a bit of money so I thought, ‘for sure I can fall off my horse and get paid too.’ So I went down to the coast and I worked for four days and it ended up being not a free-fall off the horse, but it was when they hooked me up with a cable and yanked me off my horse,” she said.
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Her ability to manoeuvre the complex move paved the way to her undertaking other, tougher stunts.
“I actually have been yanked off my horse. I’ve been ratcheted off, that hurt actually. I did that on Warcraft,” she said.
“I’ve done a couple of tackles and dives off the horses. The other day I got stabbed in the belly and fell off my horse… A lot of the times I do a lot of fast running on the horse.”
But despite her talent as a stunt woman, barrel racing has been her main focus. She’s participated in the Canadian Finals Rodeo (CFR) for the last three years. She was the 2013 finalist for the CFR in barrel racing and is also a two-time Columbia River Circuit Champion, among others.
“This is my third year here, this year, and I feel more at ease because I know what’s happening, and that kind of stuff. I’m excited for sure.”
Her 10-year-old daughter, Gracie, is just as passionate about riding and she is, and is learning how to ride just like Garthwaite did – from her own mother, something that she is grateful for.
“Me and Mike, we always talk about our lives and the things that we get to do. I’m so fortunate and I’m so blessed in everything and to be able to ride my horses and enjoy what I do… We live in an extraordinary kind of life.”
The CFR begins on Wednesday, Nov. 9 and runs until Sunday Nov. 13 at Northlands in Edmonton.