Carman Pozzobon earned the Canadian Pro Rodeo Association title in 2017. Photo by Zach Cormier, story by Dianne Finstad. 

FORT WORTH, Texas — When it’s cold in Canada, there’s no better place to be competing than on the U.S. winter rodeo trail. Most of the action happens in a much warmer climate, and a few Canuck competitors have turned up the heat with their own performances.

Making her first real run at the big southern dollars is Canadian Champion barrel racer Carman Pozzobon. She and her horse Ripp turned some heads when they were the fastest duo at the Fort Worth Finals, to finish fourth in the average, and cash out with a sizzling $9,049 cheque.

After winning the Canadian title, the B.C. cowgirl admitted she’d been thinking about making an NFR charge ‘one of these years’. When Edmonton was over, she headed straight home to haul hay and make winter arrangements for her herd of mares and prospect horses, and hit the road December 1st.

“We brought twelve head of horses down (to Arizona), and I was just trying to play catchup with my colts for the first month,” says Pozzobon. “And then I just came over to Texas.”

Her first Fort Worth cheque was a small one, for a share of ninth place.

“I was just trying to make a good, solid run and keep all the barrels up, so I could stay in the average. I knew that she had more, but I was just kind of being safe. Fort Worth is all about the average.”

The second run was similar, and while the time didn’t place, Pozzobon felt the barrels were a little tighter and the lines straighter. So when it was their turn in the Finals, she was ready to let Ripp go.

“I let her work perfect. She was ready for it.”

The 16.33 second run proved it, and the end result put Pozzobon just outside the top 20 in the WPRA world standings.

“It’s a good start. My biggest thing is just to go to these big rodeos and hopefully do well, so I don’t have to wear my horse out a whole bunch at little ones.”

The big ones ahead include San Angelo, and San Antonio, plus her Canadian championship gets her a buy into Houston and into the semi-finals for The American.

While the early success is encouraging, Pozzobon isn’t jumping for joy just yet.

“We were talking about that the other day,” she chuckled. “I’m not one to get really excited. The colts keep you pretty humble. But it’s good.”

With minimal responsibility back in B.C., Pozzobon has decided this is a good year to stick on the trail, and see where rodeo takes her.

Meantime, after a disappointing NFR, Zeke Thurston got things turned around in a hurry and was back to his winning form to kick off his 2018 season. The Big Valley bronc rider won second on his first horse, then placed again in the next round, and in the Finals, to win the average at the National Western Stock Show & Rodeo in Denver with 255.5 points on three head, for a $10,934 boost to his rodeo bank account. Or make that the baby budget, since Thurston and his wife Jayne shared on social media they’ve got a pony ready for Baby Thurston, coming in August! Thurston sits in 12th in the world race.

Still in Denver, bareback rider Luke Creasy finished fourth in the average, to win $3,164. He also collected $1,782 for third in Odessa, to sit at tenth in the standings. As well, he’s got the early lead at San Angelo, after making an 86.5 point ride. Coming in at 16th in the world race is Clint Laye, who’s back in action after being sidelined most of last season with injury. He reactivated with a bang, representing Team Fort Worth at the Fort Worth Super ShootOut, where he qualified for the Finals with an 89, and then won it all with a 90 point ride on a horse called Onion Ring, for the $10,000 bonus. Orin Larsen has placed lots, but so far they’ve just put him inside the world’s top 30. The Manitoba cowboy was third in Rapid City ($3,080), 7th in the average at Fort Worth ($2,879) and also on the payout from Odessa ($734).

Fresh off a confidence-boosting NFR debut, Jordan Hansen emerged the victor on the first night of the Rapid City Xtreme Bulls PRCA event, for $3,807 and another $3,243 for second at the Bismark Xtreme Bulls. Hansen, who now hangs his hat in Ponoka, is just outside the world’s top 30 bull riders. His traveling partner Jared Parsonage has been making the miles, picking up a share of fourth in the average at Denver ($2,113) and earning smaller cheques at both Bismarck, ND and at Odessa. Todd Chotowetz placed at Denver for $882.

On the steer wrestling front, Curtis Cassidy is the highest ranked Canadian, at fourth overall, with $19,081. That’s primarily due to his late fall success, like the victory at the Ram Wilderness Circuit Finals. But he added to the tally with some dollars from Odessa and Denver. Tanner Milan sits 25th, helped by the Montana Circuit Finals ($4,317). Scott Guenthner is inside the top 40, after his identical $4,317 from Great Falls.

Second generation ropers Ben and Kirk Robinson of Innisfail have been showing up on the leaderboards, with both brothers placing at Bismarck. Ben was first ($1,336), while Kirk was third ($875). Kirk also got some cash out of Rapid City ($2,047). Great Falls was good to some other Canadian loopers – Logan Hofer won a go-round ($2,302), while Erik Dublanko did the same, and placed in another ($2,878).

In the ‘names to watch’ category, Ricky Warren of Hudson’s Hope, BC won the second round of saddle bronc riding, and took first in the average at the Montana Finals, for a $6,331 payout. Fellow bronc rider Keenan Reinhardt got away with $2,015, while another hot rookie Kolby Wanchuk got $1,469 out of Denver. Other Canadian bronc riders placing there were Jake Watson and Tyrel Larsen.



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