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Into every rodeo season, a little rain must fall. It’s all in how you handle it.
The dedicated crew organizing the Rocky Pro Rodeo has seen its share of weather challenges over the 46 years it’s been around. Thankfully, the first two performances were in dry, sunny conditions, but the temperature dropped as it rained overnight Saturday into all of Sunday. But on went the show, and the committee generously offered the hardy fans in the stands the opportunity to watch the action from the covered VIP section above the chutes.
If you’re in a warm, dry spot, there’s no better watching than steer wrestling. Give ‘em credit, the bulldoggers do know how to make the most of the mud.
“Most of the time when it’s rainy and muddy like that, you can kind of eliminate half the guys,” chuckled Straws Milan, who was among the dozen steer wrestlers competing Sunday in Rocky. “I don’t like it, but they still pay, so you’ve got to try just as hard!”
Feeling fortunate to have escaped the rain which came about 20 minutes after they ran at Lea Park the day before, the crew layered up and prepped to ‘bear down’.
“With the rain, and as cold and windy as it was, the steers weren’t really wanting to run, so that was on thing that was to our advantage.”
Scott Guenthner came out and tipped one over in 3.9 seconds, to tie for second place. A few minutes later, Harley Cole matched that time, then took a dive into the splash pool in front of the box he’d managed to avoid in the run.
The youngest of the Milan brotherly trio knew his steer. Big brother Baillie had him in the slack where he had put on the brakes right after exiting the chute.
“So I told my hazer just to stay back off him, to try and keep him running a bit,” explained Straws. “It all worked out good.”
So good, in fact, his 3.6 seconds was fastest time at the rodeo. Naturally, that required some celebration, in the very same mud puddle.
“The bulldoggers, we’re a pretty tight-knit group and Harley did it, so when I went, everyone was yelling at me, and I knew it was for laughs, so I just did it the same!”
Covered in mud from head to toe, the move earned plenty of laughter from his buddies and the folks upstairs watching. Those are the things you remember about rodeo in the rain.
“Funny thing is I filled my permit at Rocky Mountain House (2006) and this is the first time I’ve ever placed there since!”
For Milan, the $1,751 payoff will help his get inside Canada’s top ten in the standings.
“I won Falkland too. I’ve been riding Bo Anderson’s horses and he laughed, saying ‘you’re not messing around – you either win first or nothing’.”
Best among the steer wrestlers for earnings on the three-rodeo weekend was Stony Plain’s Dallas Frank, who finished second in Lea Park and tied for third in Brooks, for $2,828. Brother Derek Frank was the winner at Lea Park, and he caught last hole at Brooks for a $2,165 take. Brendan Laye continued his winning ways, placing at two of the three shows, for $2,067; with Scott Guenthner picking up a pair of cheques totalling $2,075.
The rainy conditions at Rocky didn’t stop Ky Marshall from making it three for three on the weekend. He spurred out an 82 on Vold’s Sheer Ice there for third. The Bowden All-Around champ’s biggest bucks came at Lea Park, where he was 87 on Calgary’s Rum Flavoured.
“I had the same horse in a Wild Card round at Calgary, and was 87 on her there too,” said Marshall.
Rounding his weekend out by catching last hole at Brooks, Marshall pocketed $2,987. In the seesaw battle at the top of the Canadian standings, he edges past Ty Taypotat for the number one spot. But Taypotat was just a half point behind Marshall at Lea Park, which means he’s only $102 behind him! Richmond Champion wants to be in that race and he also scooped up a trio of cheques, including first at Rocky for an 84.5 point ride on Outlaw Buckers’ Awkward Todd. His haul was $1,845.
Marshall’s truck had a winning touch, with his traveling partners Cole Goodine getting two cheques ($1,637) and Dylan Bilton taking first at Brooks ($913).
Green is Golden
It didn’t take long for Canadian Champion Layton Green to regain the number one position he held on to for so much of last season. He was the only saddle bronc rider with a trio of weekend collection points. An 84 point victory at Rocky was the highlight, but he was fourth at the other two stops for $2,997, and the lead in Canada. His friend Zeke Thurston is moving on up, after winning Lea Park with an 85.5 ($2,218). Manitoba’s Tyrel Larsen doubled up on dollars, picking up the most of all, at $3,032, for second place at both Rocky and Lea Park. Justin Berg split Brooks with Tyler Corrington and both also placed at Lea Park. (Corrington $2,375, Berg $1,174).
Tie ‘em up!
On the ropers scene, entering two events is paying off for some competitors. Kyle Lucas and his neighbor Grady Quam had a great weekend team roping. They won brooks in 5.7 seconds, but also split third in Lea Park with a 5.6 to cash in for $2,113 apiece. But then Lucas also got some money out of the tie-down roping at Brooks ($647) where he got a share of fifth. Brady and Riley Minor were the fast team at Lea Park with a sizzling 4.5 second run, but they also placed in Rocky ($1,998 each).
Like Lucas, Riley Warren had luck with both his ropes. He and Partner Clay Ullery were second at Brooks and shared third at Rocky in the team roping ($2,099 each) but Warren snagged last hole in tie-down at Rocky ($180). Russell Cardoza was in the same boat at Rocky, placing with his partner Garrett Rogers in the team roping ($1,241) and on his own in the tie-down ($451).
Nice to see Canadian Champion Logan Bird continue his road to recovery as he wrapped up part of first in tie-down roping at Rocky in 8.5 seconds ($1,940). He shared the honors there with Al Bouchard, who also was among the speedy at his ‘nearly home’ show of Brooks ($3,193) to give him a big boost in the standings. A pair of identical payouts from Brooks and Rocky will move Jesse Popescul ($1,292 total) in front of the pack there. ‘Adopted Canadian’ Mike Johnson put a substantial $2,623 from two rodeos towards his CFR goal.
It was a profitable run for Ponoka’s Shayna Weir, as she steered her horse around the barrel pattern in the best time at Rocky with a 17.612, adding in a sixth place cheque from Lea Park and then finishing ninth at Brooks, for a healthy $3,093 dose of dough, which will shoot her from 33rd place to top ten in Canada. Callahan Crossley of Oregon also achieved the trifecta, for $2,500. Texan Nicole Lawrence netted the biggest earnings from two cheques, totalling $3,370, for her first Canadian success, while North Dakota’s Nikki Hansen made a $2,571 debut north of the border. Carman Pozzobon converted two paydays ($3,115) into big impact, moving her to the head of the pack in the barrel racing standings.
BC brings it
Making the biggest splash in the bull riding department on the weekend was Jacob Gardner of Dawson Creek who was 82.5 on Wild Hoggs’ Morning Wish for $2,087 as he topped Lea Park. Fellow B.C.’r Jory Holmes made eight in Brooks for first, while Chris Young and Kyle Brown split the Rocky honors.
Luke Creasy is finishing up his teaching term in New Mexico, and is using the time to rodeo in that neck of the woods. It paid off with placings at Sisters, OR; Clovis, NM; Monticello, UT; and Cortez, CO with $2,320 to show for the miles he traveled. Fellow bareback rider Orin Larsen was third in Woodward, OK for $1,579. Larsen is sitting at tenth in the world standings, with Creasy moving up a notch to 14th.
Curtis Cassidy stayed in Canada, but still managed to add $804 to his world tally, where he’s fifth in steer wrestling. Bronc rider Zeke Thurston has 6th spot in the world by his name, while Clay Elliott is eighth.
Students of Rodeo
The College National Finals Rodeo is underway in Casper, WY and several Canadians were showing up in the early saddle bronc results. Dawson Dahm of Duffield is competing there for Panhandle State University, while Keenan Reinhardt is riding for Montana State. Jake Burwash and Brody Cress are also competing in the bronc riding. Linden Woods is riding for Tarleton University in the bareback competition, with K’s Thomson wearing Sheridan colors in the bull riding, and Landon Beardsworth is competing in steer wrestling.
Ride to the Ranch
There’s only one rodeo on this weekend in Canada, but it’s a cowboy favourite, as they head to the Daines Ranch for the annual Innisfail Rodeo. There’s also a steer wrestling qualifier for The American before the rodeo action gets underway. There will be lots of rigs heading for Nevada this weekend, as the rich Reno Rodeo gets underway. It’s a stop on the Wrangler ProRodeo Tour.