Behind the Slide – Vanessa Rogers

Grey’s Anatomy. House. E.R. Scrubs. The Good Doctor. 

Many people love to watch the action, fast pace, and drama that comes with being a doctor. 

Fewer people choose to take that path and make it their reality. 

Vanessa Rogers of Blairmore, Alberta, Canada, works as a rural medicine doctor in an area she describes as, “Pretty small. The next center is about an hour and a half away, so a little bit more removed from any city.” 

Nearly one-fifth of Canadians live in rural communities, but they are served by only eight percent of the physicians practicing in Canada, making Vanessa’s job one that is vital to the survival of those living an agricultural lifestyle. 

“To ride horses and do my job, you just have to make it work,” Rogers said. “That may mean that I work a 24-hour shift in the emergency room, then if I’m safe to drive, driving an hour and a half to get to the barn.”

As any equine enthusiast is aware, performing at a high level in the show pen also requires a significant commitment, but despite her demanding job, Rogers is not only a competitor, but a breeder as well. 

In fact, her 2023 CINCH Non Pro Futurity entry, Whizkey Stunt Girl, is the result of that program. The mare is by NRHA Two Million Dollar Sire Whizkey N Diamonds and out of Smart Stunt Girl.

“I purchased her mom (Smart Stunt Girl) as I was finishing my residency with the intention of breeding her,” said Rogers. “I wanted to have something ready to go, and she’s the first baby out of that mare that I’m getting to bring down here.” 

Rogers attended the NRHA Futurity for the first time at 13 and has known ever since then that she wanted to ride in the Jim Norick. Her path to rural family medicine was less direct, considering other careers, before landing an undergraduate degree in neuroscience, followed by four years of medical school and two years of residency. 

“As a young kid being able to watch those amazing riders in the Coliseum, it was just– wow,” Rogers recalled. “It basically started from there. After seeing that, I was like, ‘I want to ride in that arena,’ and I have worked for it since.” 

Rogers will have another chance to ride in the Jim Norick arena if she advances out of the CINCH Non Pro Futurity Consolation round, a nerve-wracking experience for any rider, but this is where her unique job helps her out in the arena.

“Anything can happen when I’m at work, and it’s a pretty high-stress situation sometimes, but showing my horse is the fun part,” Rogers said. “I was definitely anxious about this first ride. But it’s really nice to be able to say like, you know what, like, this is not the end of the world, this is my fun thing. And so, whatever happens, I’m just happy to be here.”

To those who may watch those medical shows, or have had any experience inspiring them to consider medicine, Rogers has an inspiring message, “The sky’s the limit. If it’s something that you love, you make the time to do it.”