Real ranches, rodeos and cattle drives aren’t just preserving the frontier spirit, they’re actively practicing it. Much the same can be said for a couple of young cowpokes living the dream on the escarpment carved out in the western region of Manitoba.
The Nykoliation family of Crandall has been cattle ranching for over 40 years, currently operating a 450 head cow/calf operation with an extra 500 head on feed through the winter.
In the cattle industry, a few great roping hands come in handy for doctoring a sick or injured animal on the open range.
Brothers Ty and Lane Nykoliation were born into that lifestyle, thanks to parents, Allan and Carolyn. With their father enjoying the camaraderie of team roping it wasn’t long before his passion, his confidence, and his horsemanship abilities were sealed and stamped for approval by the young guns.
“While dad enjoys team roping, he didn’t have the opportunity to; be a part of the Manitoba High School Rodeo Association (MHSRA), as it formed just after he graduated,” shared a couple proud sons. “So, when we asked about joining, our dad was on board and has truly supported us at home practicing or on the road competing.”
Fifteen-year-old Ty, a grade 9 student, and his younger brother, Lane, 13, in grade 7, have been involved in the MHSRA for two years. The brothers are enrolled at the Hamiota Collegiate Institute, and have been members of the Lenore 4-H Beef Club and the Manitoba Junior Angus Association.
While Ty solely competes in team roping, as a junior high competitor, Lane is a five-event cowboy, focusing on steer riding, chute dogging, breakaway roping, goat tying, and team roping.
“The one and only Lane Frost is my favourite rodeo competitor,” said Lane. “He loved everything about the cowboy lifestyle and was the best bull rider of his time, perhaps of all time.”
Thirty years ago, Frost, a legendary bull rider, died after a tragic accident at Cheyenne Frontier Days in Wyoming.
“I look to a pair of Canadians, as my favourite rodeo athletes,” stated Ty. “Levi Simpson and Jeremy Buhler are the only Canadian competitors to win the Team Roping World Championship.”
Closer to home the brothers have had their own roping and riding lessons, all thanks to two great brothers in their own right – Lonnie and Shane Brown – who have churned out a number of roping standouts from Brown’s Roping School.
“Dad has influenced us as cowboys by showing us how to work hard towards our goals,” said the boys. “His best friend, the late Casey Brown, was considered a “real cowboy”.
Although their father is a skilled cowboy, it’s their mom who often is behind the truck’s steering wheel en route to a rodeo.
“While dad keeps things running at home, we call on mom to get us to the show,” quipped Ty and Lane. “She may not have the experience with horses, hauling a truck and trailer, and the sport itself, but she is coming along, and often there is a funny story to go along with our journey.”
It can be said rodeo is the most unpredictable sport; however, what it gives back to a young male or female athlete is indeed worthy despite the cost to compete. For the Nykoliation lads involvement has instilled work ethic, commitment, grit and try, to name a few life lessons, but personally, they added others.
“I feel the sport spells out independence. As individuals you are the only one in control of how well you do in an event,” said Lane. “Basically, you can’t ride on the coattails of a team.”
On the other hand, Ty competes in the event where a partner comes in handy. He penciled in “teamwork” as something rodeo was teaching him.
“In team roping it’s important to work as a team and encourage your partner,” Ty said. “By focusing on boosting each other up after a good run versus not pointing out mistakes on a miss is a great confidence booster in preparation for the next competitive run.”
Truly, the Nykoliation family faithfully uplifts the spirit of the Old West, with skills used in the rodeo arena also put into practice at home, handling cattle from horseback, roping the odd animal, and being involved in all aspects of ranch life from feeding to fencing and all the highs and lows that go with the cattle industry.