Pro rodeo competitors had a last chance to do some fishing, tune up their vehicles, or hang out with family this past weekend, before the 2017 rodeo season kicks into high gear.
Now it’s ‘Game On’, with a run as the month of June begins that takes them as far north as Grande Prairie and as far south as Hand Hills. They’ll be making the most of the long daylight hours, trying to get all of those stops worked into their travel plans.
Bronc riders have a shot at the biggest pot of gold, at the Wildwood Bronc Bustin’, which spotlights young riders and broncs, alongside the superstars of the sport. The event was spearheaded by eight-time Canadian Saddle Bronc Champion Rod Hay. He’s still involved, and you can bet he’ll be chute-side during the novice event, when two of his sons will be nodding their heads. In fact, behind the chutes could be a who’s who of rodeo legends who are now proud dad’s; including Jake Burwash’s pop Robin, Ben Andersen’s dad Chris, and Kolby Wanchuk’s dad Rick. And that’s just in the novice riding. When you look at the open contestants, there’s another whole crew of second generation greats, like Sam Kelts, Chad Thomson and Layton Green.
It’s Green who’s been off to the best start in the early stages of this rodeo year. He’s holding down the number one spot in saddle bronc riding in Canada, with $6,222 already in his account. Those standings, which are all relatively close yet, could look a lot different next week. There’s a $15,000 purse at stake at Wildwood alone.
It’s always a western adventure when you add in the Franklin and C5 ponies, and Wildwood is a perfect spot to see which ones will be the new horses the bronc riders will be putting a star beside on the draw sheet.
For a step back in time to rodeo’s roots, cowboys and fans alike will be making plans for Stampede 101 – as the folks at Hand Hills begin the next century of their proud tradition, complete with such favorites as the homemade pies and the ‘Good Guy’ award. It’s often a first chance to see some of the Calgary Stampede’s young stock prospects as well.
Northcott/Macza will be supplying the buckers for the Leduc Black Gold Rodeo’s four performances of action, while the Grande Prairie Stompede is produced by Wayne Vold, and celebrates its 40th anniversary this year. It also features four performances.
So while Layton Green is on top of the Canadian saddle bronc race so far, it’s his older brother Garrett Green who is off to an early lead in the bull riding, with $11,290 already to his credit. In the bareback riding, Ky Marshall of Bowden sits first at this stage ($5,893), but given his track record both sides of the border when he brings his rigging to town, you have to believe current titlist Jake Vold is hot on his heels ($4,505). Another one to keep your eyes on is Ty Taypotat, who’s back in fine form after recovering from a nasty torn bicep injury last summer. He gave notice he’s hungry by winning Falkland, as well as the $20,000 check at the invitational Cloverdale Rodeo the same weekend.
Stettler’s Riley Warren has doubled his next closest competitor to top the tie-down roping race, with $8,295 already, while two-time Canadian champion Tanner Milan ($7,257) has the edge in an always competitive steer wrestling game. Champ Cody Cassidy is lurking in second place, but rookie Dustin Nicholson from Quesnel is right there in the hunt too.
It’s BC cowgirls who are dominating the barrel racing at this early date, led by Chelsea Moore ($7,018). Sarah Gerard is next, with BC raised Melissa Thiessen in third, followed by Katie Garthwaite and Carman Pozzobon.
And the new duo of three-time Canadian heeling champion Tyrel Flewelling ($4,509) and his neighbor Brett Buss ($5,086) is off to a strong start, leading their respective standings races.
In other news from the world of rodeo, the PRCA has announced Commissioner Karl Stressman will retire at the end of the year, after serving through his tenth Wrangler National Finals Rodeo.
The Canadian Cowboy Golf Classic is taking place June 8th in Airdrie, to benefit the Canadian Pro Rodeo Sports Medicine Team.
The board of the CPRA has increased the 2017 Sport Med fees by a dollar, with the extra money to help fund a concussion protocol to further protect the health and safety of members.
Judging by the combined power and strength of the groomsmen crew in the picture tweeted by Baillie Milan, there would have been very few security problems as former bulldogger Todd Maughan tied the knot on the weekend.
Thank you to our sponsor, Boulet Boots Inc, presenter of the Boulet Boots Pro Rodeo Report on Everything Cowboy.
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