You just might be in a rodeo turnaround if… you win more money in one weekend than you did the entire previous season.
That’s exactly what Dayton Roworth accomplished on the June 1st Canadian run. The steer wrestler collected $4,539, for winning the Grande Prairie Stompede, and finishing second at the Leduc Black Gold Rodeo.
In all of 2015, the records show he picked up just $4,134.
“I was having a bad year last year, and I needed to get stuff figured out,” Roworth admitted. “So I went home and baled hay instead of going (to rodeos), and losing more money.”
Home is the family ranch near Czar, in east central Alberta, where the 26-year-old works with his father and grandfather. It’s right in the heart of bulldogger country, flanked by neighbors with last names like Zieffle, Guenthner, Lawes and Laye, so there’s plenty of help to ‘figure things out’ in the practice pen.
Roworth turned pro in 2010, after winning the Lakeland Rodeo Association the year before. 2015 was his best year, and he finished 7th for Canada at his first ever CFR. Then came the cold year.
“It’s a head game. I had to run lots of steers to get my confidence back. You try to think of too many different things for winning instead of just doing your job. I had to get back to basics. So I spent some time at the gym and did lots of practicing. BJ Zieffle helped me a lot.”
The break from rodeo also gave his horse Fly a chance to heal up, and he’s now sound and in fine form.
The duo’s rodeo ready status was confirmed by this weekend’s success, which began in Leduc.
“I knew I had a good steer, and a got a really good start. In fact, I thought I’d broken the barrier. The horses worked good, and the steer was awesome.”
The 3.7 second run was good for the early lead, and it didn’t get bumped until the final night, when Justin Miller was a tenth faster. With that boost, it was easy to head north to Grande Prairie, where Roworth plucked another steer considered the ‘one to have’.
“I told myself not to break the barrier. You don’t want to back off, but you also don’t want to be silly and break out on the best steer in the pen. I knew what I wanted to see, and stuck to my decision.”
When the steer tipped over in 4.1 seconds, Roworth thought he’d at least cash a cheque. So when he found out later it held up for first money, he was elated.
“You know you’re right there. I was excited because it can help me get into the big new rodeo in Edmonton with K-Days. Now I can’t wait for the next rodeo.”
“I knew I needed to get on the board this year, so I didn’t start fighting my head. I know now I can win, so I want to go to some more.”
One of the big money winners on the busy weekend got it all done at one stop. Lane Cust rode away from the rich Wildwood Bronc Bustin’ event with his pockets full.
The Sylvan Lake based bronc rider got along with Franklin’s Another Blue in the long round, to tie for third.
“Just to make the second round made me pretty happy,” acknowledged Cust. “It was an improvement on last year, and put me one step closer to the short round.”
In the ‘eliminator’ round, Cust made the whistle and enough points to advance on the C5 horse Peigan Trail.
“I’d never seen him. He’s a bigger roan paint and it wasn’t easy, but I was happy to stay on.”
Then, as one of just six cowboys in the Finals, Cust was excited to draw Wall Street, a bronc raised by event founder and eight-time Canadian champion Rod Hay.
“I’ve been on that horse about four times, a couple of them in the practice pen at Rod’s a few years ago. Then I had him last year at the Cinch Finals in the first round. I always have good luck on him, and he definitely helped me out in the short round.”
Cust spurred to an 84.5 and when the dust cleared, he was the champion, winning $4,188, a beautiful Troy Fisher buckle and a Wildwood Bronc Bustin’ jacket.
“Everyone was going for it 110 per cent in the short round. It has to be a bronc rider’s favorite event that we get to go to in Canada. Everyone wants to win, so it meant a lot to me to be on top at the end.”
It wasn’t Cust’s first Wildwood champ’s jacket – he’d won the prestigious title twice as a novice.
The win was a real confidence booster for the 2016 Rookie of the Year, who broke his ankle at San Antonio at the end of February when his horse ran into a gate.
“Coleman and Camrose were my first ones back. I maybe could’ve waited a bit longer, but it’s getting close to 100 per cent. Up until this weekend, things were not looking that good. Confidence is the big thing, and I’ll run with this one. I should be close to the number one spot, and that’s where everyone wants to be.”
Other multiple winners from the Grande Prairie, Wildwood, Leduc and Hand Hills stops included bareback rider Richmond Champion, who went to the paywindow at all three of his stops, for $4,321. Tie-down roper Randall Carlisle of Louisiana was first at Grande Prairie, and split the top spot at Leduc, to pick up $4,910; with Texan Blane Cox scooping up $4,538 for a share of first at both Leduc and Hand Hills, and a placing at Grande Prairie. Team ropers Brett and Justin McCarroll of Camrose won Leduc and split Hand Hills, for $2,963 apiece. Wyoming bareback rider Seth Hardwick picked up $3,248 for a trio of cheques. Canadian saddle bronc champion Clay Elliott earned $2,348 at Wildwood and added another $2,606 for first at Grande Prairie.
South of the line, there were two Wrangler Champions Challenge events, and bareback rider Orin Larsen was the big winner at Spanish Fork, UT for $3,944. But he also placed at the Santa Maria, CA Challenge for another $1,218 to move within $1,000 of the 15th spot in the World Standings.
Also at Spanish Fork, World Champion bronc rider Zeke Thurston split third for $1,856, while B.C.’s Jake Watson got a share of fifth spot.
As of today, five Canadians rank inside the top 15. They are: Scott Guenthner (14th – SW); Levi Simpson (12th – HD); Jeremy Buhler (13th – HL); Zeke Thurston (2nd – SB) and Clay Elliott (8th – SB).
This week’s Canadian pro rodeo circuit heads to Brooks in the south, Lea Park in the north, and returning after a one-year hiatus to the west country for the Rocky Pro Rodeo, as that event marks its 45th year.
Next weekend a new feature at the Daines Ranch Pro Rodeo will be the Twist ‘em Twice steer wrestling jackpot, giving all bulldoggers who enter an additional steer on June 14th, the day before the slack. The two head cash won’t count for Canadian standings but spokesman Danny Daines has all sorts of treats planned for participants.
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