“I couldn’t have drawn it up any better.”
That was the sentiment expressed by 18 year-old bull rider, Beau Gardner after a dominating performance at the first-ever “Happy Bucking New Year” bull riding event at the Crossroads Center in Oyen, Alberta.
The rookie, competing at his first CPRA open bull riding event, rode a pair of X-6 Ranches bulls en route to the win. Gardner covered 802 Chain Gang for an 85 to grab third place in the long go (behind Chad Hartman and William Barrows), then mastered 810 Night Stalker for a whopping 89 points and the title (174 on two). The New Year’s Eve victory was worth $7200 to the Arrowwood, Alberta talent. Veteran Garrett Green was the only other cowboy to cover both his bulls (170 on two) and took home a tidy $4900 for the effort.
“It was pretty cool,” Gardner remarked. “The guys that were there, a lot of them have helped me since I was a steer rider, guys like Jordan (Hansen) and Jared (Parsonage). To ride with those guys was a dream come true and then to get the win was pretty awesome.”
The Western Texas College freshman didn’t know many of the bulls in the short round and asked fellow competitor Cauy Schmidt to single out three that might suit the rookie’s style. Night Stalker was one of those bulls and when he was still available when it came his turn to pick, Gardner pulled the trigger. “He was really good, came around to the right, he made me work for it, that’s for sure.”
Gardner noted as well that the win is a definite confidence builder heading into his first pro season. “It’s huge to have a debut like that; it makes you feel like you belong with these guys.”
Gardner already has an impressive resume to look back on as the reigning CPRA Novice Bull Riding Champion, 2023 Alberta Provincial High School Champion, and having captured both Rookie of the Year honours and the National Championship in the BRC.
“I plan to prioritize rodeo this year,” the likeable teenager acknowledged. “There’s lots of places I haven’t been to since I was a steer rider and I’m looking forward to getting back to those places. And the CFR is definitely a goal for this year so I’ll be rodeoing hard for sure. Plus I love travelling with a great bunch of guys, building memories especially while I’m young.”
Those memories may start accumulating quickly as Gardner will head back south for school on January 4th and plans to hit rodeos at Laurel, Mississippi and West Monroe, Louisiana and follow that up with a stop at Uvalde, Texas for the San Antonio qualifier.
Looking back at the event in Oyen, Gardiner called it one of the best he’s ever been to. “Travis Jordan and Legend Rodeo did a really good job, it was run very professionally and the crowd was really energetic—great bulls, great guys.”
And for one rookie bull rider making his professional Canadian debut and about to embark on a career in the game he loves, it was a night he won’t soon forget.
Photo: Beau Gardner, 89 points on X-6 Ranches’ 810 Night Stalker. Photo by Covy Moore
The Canadian Professional Rodeo Association (CPRA) with headquarters in Airdrie, Alberta is the official sanctioning body for Professional Rodeo in Canada. The CPRA approves 55 events annually with a total payout exceeding $5.7 million. The organization oversees the SMS Equipment Pro Tour Finals Labour Day weekend in Armstrong, BC, holds their premiere event – the Canadian Finals Rodeo (CFR) – at Rogers Place in Edmonton, AB October 2-5 and endorses the Maple Leaf Circuit Finals as part of Canadian Western Agribition in Regina, SK in November. Follow the CPRA on Facebook and Instagram @prorodeocanadaofficial, on Twitter @prorodeocanada or online at RodeoCanada.com.