The cowboys and cowgirls of the Canadian Finals Rodeo climbed out of their saddles on Thursday to spend time with children with special needs.

During Rodeo Magic, Rexall Place became a carnival ground for the 150 local kids who met rodeo’s all-stars.

Even after a tough night’s competition, cowboys and cowgirls were ready on focus on their young admirers.

“We come out here to rodeo, and it’s all the lights and the money and stuff,” said Trevor Knowles, a steer wrestler from Oregon. “But it brings you back to reality when you come to a deal like this to help somebody else out, and (you) realize how lucky you are to do what we (do) and make a living out of it.”

Dressed in cowboy hats and bandannas, the children bested the cowboys in pretend barrel racing, bull riding and calf roping. Meanwhile, a petting zoo provided respite from the excitement with docile donkeys and miniature horses.

“This is an opportunity for us to give them something that they haven’t seen before,” said Sandra Pysklywyk, the manager of public relations at Northlands. “Especially (since) Edmonton is an urban centre, it gives them a chance to get back to their Western roots.”

Despite being urban dwellers, some of the children exhibited a natural talent for the rodeo.

“She has done it all before, from the looks of things,” said cowboy Mike Solberg of the horseriding skill of his young charge, Breanna Anders.

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