This won’t be Dusty Lavalley’s first time competing at the Calgary Stampede.
The four-time Canadian Champion bareback rider has been consistently appearing on the roster at the Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth for the past 10 years.
“It’s changed since I’ve been there. From the first year I ever came here to what it is now, there’s been a lot of construction and different formats and different Grand Entries. There’s have been a number of changes,” said the Bezanson, AB cowboy.
Lavalley, now 35, hasn’t had the greatest start to the 2016 rodeo season.
“I’ve been dealing with some injuries and stuff like that and I’ve only been to six rodeos now altogether. Out of that six, I can’t complain to much because I think about 50 percent of them I’ve been doing pretty good at,” he said, adding that he has come away from a few rodeos with a cheque, finishing in second in both Lea Park and Innisfail, which has been enough to set him into seventh place in the Canadian standings.
“Typically I’ve gone to more rodeos by now and I’m usually riding at 100 percent,” said Lavalley, adding that Stampede will be a difficult test for him this year due to his injuries, specifically an injury to his leg.
“I’m in a bad position because I’m hurting so bad. I’m doing things to try to minimize my injuries and my pain and stuff like that. As hard as I try to block it out, it is there. It’s in my mind, it’s a shitty deal. It sucks that I have to deal with it.”
Despite the pain, Lavalley said he intends to try to carry on regardless, and posted an 81 point ride on Friday afternoon.
“With the help of (the Canadian Pro Rodeo) Sports Medicine (Team) and some of my own preparations I can do my best at trying to deal with it,” he said.
The veteran cowboy’s continued last weekend, as he came down with the flu before his ride at the Ponoka Stampede.
“I thought I was going to freaking die,” he laughed, adding that he ended up having to turn out of his scheduled ride at the Airdrie Pro Rodeo later that evening.
“I couldn’t even do it. I went home and went straight to bed and slept for like 20 hours straight.”
Lavalley has been busy outside of the arena, too, as he is working on growing his own company, Trusted Dispatch Inc., which he started earlier this year.
“That’s a part of why I haven’t rodeoed that much is because I’ve been so busy with my company. What we specialize in doing is getting any kind of equipment hauled anywhere in Canada or the U.S. for a backhaul price.”
After taking a week off to rest and recuperate, the 14-year pro is ready to take on the Stampede.
“I’m ready to go and have a good first ride and get to where I can have confidence in my body and not have to worry about my injuries and then really turn it on the last three rounds and be in good shape for Sunday.”
The Alberta cowboy said he gives a lot of credit to the Canadian Pro Rodeo Sports Medicine Team for allowing him to stay on the circuit for so long.
“The older I get the more I strongly, strongly believe in the Sports Medicine and the things that they do and the importance of their presence. It’s really help prolong a lot of guys’ careers.”
Story by Zachary Cormier, Photos by Covy Moore