Top 10: The Greatest Bull Riders in Canadian History

CALGARY, Alberta — The Greatest Ever.

It’s a bold statement to give someone this designation but it’s a conversation worth having in my opinion. Since I began this quest I re-connected with some people that I have been overdue to catch up with and sparked numerous an intriguing conversation.

What I want to do with Cowboy Sh*t the Podcast is spark talks and get people thinking deeper. It seems to me like these sort of lists haven’t happened much in our sport. Maybe we are all too afraid to offend someone or we are all too up-tight sometimes.

This all got started when I was writing a story about 400 VJV Slash back in May of 2018. I was doing some research and learning more about the greatest bucking bulls ever from Canada, but that’s for another article.

For our 50th episode of the podcast, Wacey Anderson and I invited a few people down to Smithbilt Hats in downtown Calgary. Guests on the show included two very accomplished bull riders; Wrangler NFR Qualifier, Canadian Champion, hall of fame inductee and living legend, Don Johansen along with three-time Canadian Champion and 2012 Calgary Stampede champion Chad Besplug.

With help from those who provided information in prior research sessions along with the podcast, this is what we came up with. So everyone is aware, we didn’t quite get the list right on the podcast, so this is to remedy that even though this is probably wrong according to the opinion of some people as well.

Below is a rundown of the points system we used to rank the Top 10. We went this way based on points to make it objective. We didn’t change rankings over the years or different eras of competition.

Our objective was to rank the greatest bull riders ever from Canada against the best in the world.

  1. World Titles – 100 points
  2. NFR Aggregate Titles/PRCA Season Leader – 40 points
  3. NFR Qualifications – 20 points
  4. PBR World Finals Qualifications – 20 points for Top 15, 10 points from 16-45
  5. Canadian Titles – 10 points

Here’s the list:

9. (tie) Robert Bowers – 80 points

Three NFR Qualifications (60), one Canadian title (10) and one PBR World Finals Qualification (10)

Robert Bowers rides Candyman for 88 points in Round 10 of the 1999 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo. Everything Cowboy photo by Mike Copeman

Robert Bowers reflects on storied rodeo career

Story by Zach Cormier – September  10, 2017

It was the sixth go-round of the 1999 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo and Robert Bowers had a choice to make.

A night prior, the Brooks, Alberta bull rider had broken his riding arm for the sixth time in his career at the end of a round-winning 84-point ride.

While an injury like that would be the end of the line for most cowboys, Bowers wasn’t ready to hang it up just yet.

After all, this was where he had dreamed of riding ever since he was a little kid: centre stage at the Thomas & Mack Centre at the biggest rodeo of them all. He couldn’t just up and quit.

So instead, he decided to do something rarely seen in the bull riding world: he got back on the next night and rode with his other hand.

“I had done it a couple of times before that when I had broken my arm,” recalled Bowers, who has been away from the sport for about five years now.

“It was basically go home and heal up or figure out how to ride with the other hand and be able to go to some rodeos still.”

The first couple of times that he broke it, Bowers went home and took the time to heal up properly.

But after the fourth or fifth time breaking his arm, the dual-event bull rider and bareback rider decided he couldn’t stand to keep missing good rodeos, so he started trying his luck at riding with the other hand and, after a while, it started working.

“I started getting on a little bit with my other hand. I did okay with it – obviously I couldn’t ride as good as I did with my left hand – but I rode alright with it and I could get by some at the right places with it,” he said.

Luckily, one of those places turned out to be the NFR, where Bowers rode two of the remaining five rounds with his off hand, and picked up a second-place cheque with his right hand in the 10th round.

It wasn’t a bad way to end the veteran cowboy’s third and final time at the WNFR.

Robert Bowers is the last Canadian bull rider to have qualified for the PBR World Finals, Wrangler NFR and CFR all in the same year, that was back in 1999 and it hasn’t been done since. Jordan Hansen nearly did so in 2017 but missed the PBR Finals by a few spots. Bowers qualified for the NFR in 1997 and 1998 as well and was the Canadian Champion Bull Rider in 1997. He’s the first man on our list and made it by ten points over No. 11 man, five-time Canadian Champion and 1966 NFR qualifier Gid Garstad.

9. (tie) Bob Robinson – 80 points

One NFR Aggregate title (40) and two NFR qualifications

The son of Sykes Robinson, also inducted into the Canadian Rodeo Hall of Fame, Bob was born in Calgary, Alberta on September 13, 1931.

His first attempt at riding steers was in 1939, when he was eight years old, and was not very successful, but by 1950, to the dismay of his parents, he quit high school to enter the bull riding in Denver, Colorado, and the die was cast. He was soon competing in all three events, Saddle Bronc, Bareback, Bull Riding, and later added Steer Decorating and Steer Wrestling to his repertoire.

His first big win was in 1953, when he won the All Around Championship at the Edmonton Spring Rodeo.

By January of 1955 Bob was competing full time as a professional.  The following year was a banner year for Bob, he won: the Saddle Bronc Riding at the Calgary Stampede and the Canadian Saddle Bronc Riding Championship. In 1962, he was the first Canadian to win a major event, Bull Riding, at the National Finals Rodeo in Oklahoma City. In 1963, he was sixteen dollars short of qualifying for his second NFR in the same event. In 1964 he qualified for his second NFR while attending college , where he earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Radio and Television Broadcasting, with a minor degree in Marketing.

Bob was elected President of the Canadian Rodeo Cowboys Association in 1973 and his greatest achievement came in 1974 when he and the Board of Directors formed the Canadian Finals Rodeo.

He was again elected President in 1980 when the CRCA was re-organized to the Canadian Professional Rodeo Association, representing an equal Board of contestants, stock contractors and committee men.

Since retiring from professional Rodeo in 1969, Bob has been involved in marketing western wear and in 1983, at the age of 52, he took up Team Roping. In 1995 he was elected President of the Canadian Senior Pro Rodeo. Bob is still traveling much of the time with his work and team roping. He is “enjoying life to the fullest” with his wife, Peggy. Bob Robinson was inducted into the Canadian Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame in 1997 and National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in 2014.

9. (tie) Tanner Byrne – 80 points

Four PBR World Finals Qualifications (70), one PBR Canada title (10)

Unlike some of the bull riders in this countdown, I don’t have a bio for Tanner Byrne. A few of the guys in here are already in the Canadian Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame, PBR Ring of Honor, the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame or hold other attributes. Those guys were easy to find bios on. For Tanner, I get to write my own.

First off, points wise, Byrne Qualified for the PBR World Finals in 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2018. From 2014 to 2016, he finished inside the Top 15 in the world, recording the best finish ever by a Canadian so far in the PBR, at eighth on the planet in 2015. That same year he put up the best finish ever by a Canadian to date at the PBR World Finals, finishing third. And he didn’t even get on his last bull that year in the Championship Round which was one he could have rode in Long John. That same year, Byrne won the PBR Canada title.

Check out his stats below in PBR competition, it goes right up until this year. As mentioned in the points structure above, Byrne is awarded an extra 30 points on his four PBR World Finals qualifications due to finishing Top 15 in those standings at the end of the year. We figured this sort of finish was at least what it was worth to qualify for the NFR at any time.

In addition to the best finish ever by a Canadian in the PBR, Byrne won three elite-series events.

RELATED: Byrne Proud to Have Broken Canadian Curse

On Monday this week, Byrne made history again, being chosen to fight bulls at the 2019 PBR Monster Energy Canadian Finals in Saskatoon.

RELATED: Byrne To Make History at PBR Canada Finals in Saskatoon

With over $700,000 USD in career earnings, I give Byrne the bonus point here for the No. 8 finish in the world and three wins at the elite level in the PBR. There’s no competition better in bull riding that the PBR and he won. He also has a pair of CFR aggregate titles to his name and rode Slash to win one of those titles. Here’s to the next chapter pal! I know Ty would be proud.

 

7. (tie) John Dodds – 100 points

Three NFR Qualifications (60) and four Canadian titles (40)

John Dodds was born April 17, 1948 at Ponoka, Alberta. He was the third of five children born to Jim and Helen Dodds, and he grew up on the family farm south of Ponoka where his father trained and traded horses.

John began his rodeo career at the age of nine, entering the boys steer riding at the High River Little Britches Rodeo. As a child, John recalls watching the Pendleton Roundup Rodeo on television, and telling his brothers that he would one day ride there – and ride there he did, winning the bull riding at this prestigious rodeo twice. 

John became a member of the Cowboys’ Protective Association (now the Canadian Professional Rodeo Association) in 1965, and competed in the bull riding and bareback riding events. During his career, John won four Canadian bull riding titles in 1969, 1971, 1972 and 1977. He qualified for the Canadian Finals Rodeo seven times in the bull riding and once in bareback riding. In those seven years he finished inside the Top 7 every year, twice finishing as the reserve champion. John also qualified for the National Finals Rodeo in 1971, 1972 and 1977 in the bull riding.

On November 24, 1969, John married Lana Purcel and together they raised four children: Justin, Jamie, Jon and Bobby-Jo. Although recently returning to reside at Ponoka, John and Lana lived for many years in Morningside, Alberta.

John was always ready to help young cowboys, and could usually be found at the bucking chutes during the boys steer riding, giving advice, pulling ropes and often taking a beating by a chute-fighting steer. He is considered the epitome of a real cowboy, and was honored as Cowboy of the Year for the Canadian Professional Rodeo Association in 1984.

John retired from active competition after competing in the 1982 Canadian Finals Rodeo, in Bull Riding. He went on to become involved in the movie industry. Dodds was inducted into the Canadian Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame in 1999. Sadly, he passed away in April of 2005.

Courtesy of the Canadian Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame

 

7. (tie) Dale Johansen – 100 points

Four NFR Qualifications (80) and two Canadian titles (20)

I’ve had a ton of fun reading and learning about the best bull riders ever from Canada over the past year and a half since I started this project. I didn’t know off the top of my head that Dale was one of only three Canadians to have qualified for the NFR on four separate occasions. I do know that back when I was at the Johansen Brothers Steer Riding schools back in 2004 and 2005 that Dale helped me the most. (Sorry Don). I never had much of a bull riding career myself but I owe a ton of my start to Dale’s teaching and encouragement.

I may not have turned out to be much of a bull rider but I am still involved in the sport today and I think that is an incredibly important part of those schools, now past the 40-year mark.

RELATED: Johansen Steer Riding School Going Strong after 38 years

Dale is from Strathmore, Alberta and in 1977 he was the Alberta High School champion bull rider. He turned pro in 1980, winning the Calgary Stampede in 1982 and again in 1984. His NFR qualifications came in 1983, 1984, 1986 and 1987. He was the back to back Canadian Champion bull rider in 1983 and 1984, qualifying for nine-consecutive CFR’s from 1980 to 1988, retiring in 1988. In 2008 Dale Johansen was inducted into the  Canadian Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame.

6. Wayde Joyal – 110 points

PRCA season leader (40), two Canadian titles (20), one WNFR Qualification (20) and three PBR World Finals Qualification (30)

Photo submitted by Wayde Joyal.

Wayde Joyal grew up in Quesnel, British Columbia, a community in the North Cariboo region known for its logging and close proximity to Barkerville, home of the 1860’s Cariboo Gold Rush.

Quesnel Billy Barker Days is an annual exhibition and the biggest amateur rodeo, and it was on Wayde Joyal’s calendar every year. He competed initially in the steer riding, then moved to bull riding and bareback riding with occasional appearances in the team roping.

His first bull might have ended his brilliant career, but Wade learned early on to overcome obstacles. While getting ready on his first bull at the Quesnel rodeo, the bull in the chute behind him hooked the slide open, jumping onto Wayde’s bull. He got a horn under Wayde’s leg, chucking him over the gate into the arena, breaking his leg. That same leg was broken five more times throughout his career.

Wayde competed in the BC High School Rodeo Association, winning the bareback riding and attending the NHSRA finals in 1985. He suffered a broken back in 1984, and rode in his first CFR in 1985, as a novice bareback rider, and finished second. He went on to win many titles in the Interior Rodeo Association, Northern Rodeo Association and the Yellowhead Rodeo Association. The year 1986 was a banner year for Joyal, winning six saddles in the bull riding, bareback riding and the all-around.

In 1987, Wayde bought his CPRA card, winning second at his first rodeo in Regina. Wade qualified for the CFR six times: 1992, 1993, 1994, 1996, 1997 and 1999. Winning the Canadian bull riding title in 1993 and 1994, Joyal was also runner up on three separate occasions. He also qualified for three PBR World Finals in 1994, 1995 and 1997. In 1997, Wade would qualify for the CFR but injury kept him from competing, allowing the 11th man, Robert Bowers to move up, winning the finals that year.

Also in 1997, Wayde was the season leader in the PRCA going into the NFR but only $12,000 separated the top 15 that year. He didn’t have a good finals, competing on a recently broken leg from the PBR World Finals. He would blow his shoulder out in Round 6, ending his NFR bid, finishing 10th overall. After healing up Wayde went on to qualify for one final CFR in 1999 and finished tied for second. To this day, Wayde is the only Canadian bull rider to have been a season leader in the PRCA.

Wayde was the second of three Canadian Bull Riders to make the CFR, NFR & PBR finals in the same year.  Daryl Mills in 1994, Wayde in 1997 and Robert Bowers in 1999. The nagging back injury, broken legs, bad shoulder, broken jaw and many other injuries suffered rodeoing along with the endless miles as a professional cowboy led to Wayde’s decision to retire after riding his last bull at the 1999 CFR.

Wade now works as a pipeliner, still lives in the Quesnel area and enjoys attending rodeos when he can. He was inducted into the Canadian Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame in 2018.

Courtesy of the Canadian Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame

Jim Pippolo awards Wayde Joyal with his plaque from the Canadian Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame upon his 2018 induction.

5. Rob Bell – 120 points 

Three NFR Qualifications (60), three Canadian titles (30) and two PBR World Finals Qualifications (30)

A three-time Canadian Champion in 1999, 2000 and 2003, Rob Bell of Houston, British Columbia is one of only six men to win three or more Canadian titles in the bull riding event. He’s a two-time PBR World Finals qualifier, going in 2003 and 2004. He’s also a three-time Wrangler NFR qualifier, going to ride out of the yellow chutes for three consecutive years between 1999, 2000 and 2001. Bell is a two-time Glen Keeley Memorial Award winner as the top Canadian in the PBR.

Not only did Bell compete at the elite level, but he won, taking first in Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina in 2003. That win was the lone by a Canadian in recent memory until Tanner Byrne snapped the 13-year streak of no Canadians winning at the PBR’s elite level. Bell owns one of the top finishes ever by a Canadian in the PBR, going home No. 11 in 2003, the same year he won his last Canadian championship. He’s the only Canadian bull rider to ever qualify for multiple NFR’s and PBR World Finals. Bell, at 41-years of age, has yet to be inducted into the Canadian Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame and now spends his time in Louisiana with his wife and boys.

4. Aaron Roy – 130 points 

Eight PBR World Finals Qualifications (100) and three Canadian titles (30)

 

Starting his PBR career in 2006, Aaron Roy made his first appearance at the World Finals in 2008. He would qualify for six-straight years however would not compete at the sixth after breaking his back at the 2013 Calgary Stampede. A mere 14 months later, Roy made one of the greatest returns to competition ever in Canadian history, winning the 2014 PBR Canada National Finals in the first event of his return.

In 2015 and 2016 Roy returned to the PBR World Finals for his seventh and eight qualifications, the most ever to date by a Canadian. When asked about his greatest accomplishments however, he mentions the four-straight championship round qualifications at four-consecutive PBR World Finals between 2009 and 2012. At the time he marked the highest world finals finish at fourth. An extra 20 points were added on qualifications as he finished No. 11 in the PBR’s World Standings in 2011 and No. 14 in 2009.

With over $1,000,000 USD in earnings, he’s won more in PBR competition than any other Canadian in history so far. Roy is a five-time Glen Keeley Memorial Award winner and the only three-time PBR Canada National Champion.

Aaron Roy and son Axel. Photo by Covy Moore / CovyMoore.com

3. Leo Brown – 170 points

Four NFR Qualifications (80), one NFR Aggregate title (40) and five Canadian titles (50)

Leo Brown is considered to be one of the greatest riding event cowboys to ever come out of this country. Born in 1936 he started his rodeo career in 1953 and went on to win ten major Canadian championships.

Brown still holds the record as the only cowboy to win championships in all three riding events. He was bull riding champion in 1960, 1961 and 1963; saddle bronc titleist in 1962; and captured the bareback event in 1958 and 1960. The High Point award also won by Leo in 1960 and 1963.

Leo shares with Gid Garstad and Wilf Girletz the most Canadian bull riding titles – each have won the event five times.

At the Winnipeg Rodeo, in 1961, Leo marked a score of 185 (on the old 200 point system) on Vold’s famous bull, Tiger.

In 1961, Leo was among the top fifteen bull riders in the world and became the first Canadian to qualify for the National Finals Rodeo in this event. The following year he returned to the NFR in the bull riding, and also qualified in the saddle bronc riding. In 1963, Brown set a record in the bull riding as he was the first cowboy to ride all eight bulls during the NFR in Los Angeles, winning the aggregate title. Brown qualified for the NFR again in 1966 to finish with four trips to rodeo’s super bowl.

During the winter rodeo at Regina in 1971, Leo became acquainted with stock contractor Roy West and together they formed the company of Brown West Rodeo which he operated for 11 years. In 1974 and 1976 his Horse High N Mighty was named Bucking Horse of the Year in Canada.

In 1988 Leo was inducted into the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame.

Up until 1989 he was still competing in the Canadian Old Timers Rodeo Association.

Serving on the C.R.C.A. Board of Directors for 11 years, Leo contributed to the sport of rodeo as a Wrangler Pro Official.

Leo has now retired completely from Rodeo but not his rodeo buddies, as he shows up at a rodeo now and then and the Rodeo Hall of Fame banquet each fall to catch up with the stories of the old days and learn from the young fellows what’s going on today in the rodeo world. Leo is a favorite to visit with as his sense of humor is very much present.

Courtesy of the Canadian Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame

2. Cody Snyder – 190 points 

One PRCA World Title (100), four NFR Qualifications (80) and one Canadian title (10)

Born and raised in Medicine Hat, Alberta, Cody Snyder has had a love affair with rodeos and bull riding since he learned to walk. When his parents weren’t looking, Cody used to ride the calves and anything that had four legs on the family farm. His first rodeo experience occurred at the age of five, when Cody rode a calf in competition. The calf promptly ran past a barrel and knocked Cody off. He got up, dusted himself off, and never looked back.

Cody started riding junior steers in rodeo competition when he was eight years old, and at twelve, he finally rode his first bull. By the age of fifteen, Cody was the Canadian Amateur Bull Riding Champion. Through 1980 and 1981, Cody gained the experience he needed to lead the Canadian Professional Rodeo Bull Riding standings in 1982. He was nineteen years old.

In 1983, at the age of twenty, and a virtual unknown on the world circuit, Cody beat the odds to capture World Bull Riding Championship in Oklahoma, the first Canadian ever to win this award. He returned home to Alberta to a hero’s welcome. Cody also won the Canadian Bull Riding Championship in 1986. He was named “Cowboy of the Year” by his peers, in 1994.

Cody retired due to a career ending wrist injury as one of Canada’s top rodeo competitors. He holds the record for the most Canadian Finals Rodeo Qualifications in bull riding (nine times), as well as for the highest scored ride in Canadian Rodeo History (ninety-five points) in 1983. He was a four-time National Finals Rodeo qualifier in 1983, 1984, 1986 and 1987.

Cody remains involved in the sport as the owner and operator of Cody Snyder’s Bullbustin’ which produces world-class bull riding events across Western Canada. You can also catch Cody on Rogers Sportsnet, OLN US, TSN, ESPN or CBC as the voice of experience bringing you coverage of the world’s best rodeo and bull riding events.

Snyder was inducted into the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame in 2002, Canadian Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame in 2005 and PBR’s Ring of Honor in 2006.

Courtesy: Alberta Sports Hall of Fame

1. Daryl Mills – 230 points

One PRCA World Title (100), three NFR qualifications (60), one WNFR Aggregate Title (40), two Canadian titles (20) and one PBR World Finals qualification (10)

In 1990, his first year as a Pro, Daryl Mills from Pink Mountain, British Columbia took the Pro Rodeo world by storm, winning the Rookie of the Year Award and the Canadian Bull Riding Championship. He did not compete in 1991 due to injuries but came back in 1992 to win a second Canadian Bull Riding Championship and qualify for his first Wrangler NFR.

Daryl qualified for the Canadian Finals again in 1993 and rode the first five bulls but was thrown off the last one. In his three trips to the finals he has set a record for the most consecutive bulls ridden, a total of 17, placing on all but three. He considers this as one of his greatest personal achievements.

In 1993 Mills was the aggregate winner at the National Finals in Las Vegas and set a record for the most money won ($74,112) in the bull riding event. He finished second that year to Ty Murray by only $95. The following year, 1994, he qualified for the first-ever PBR World finals and won the title of World Champion Bull Rider and retired from the sport, never to ride again.

Before turning Pro, Daryl won the B.C. High School Rodeo bull riding and bareback riding championship in 1987 and was the FCA and Northwest Rodeo bull riding champion in 1989.

He considers his most memorable event was making a qualified ride on “Chainsaw” in Australia in 1990. A founding member and part owner of the PBR, Daryl was inducted into the PBR’s Ring of Honor in 2002 .

Mills once said during an interview, “Rodeo has meant not only a way of life, but an opportunity to travel and meet people of similar interests. Rodeo is a sport requiring a great talent with little pay. The challenge, competition and buckles make it all worthwhile”.

Daryl Mills was inducted into the Canadian Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame in 2006.

Courtesy of the Canadian Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame

With this list, a ton of impressive names missed the cut. Here are the next few names on the list and few that could make their way into the Top 10 in the next few years.

 

Gid Garstad – 70 points

Five Canadian titles (50 points) and one WNFR Qualification (20 points)

CPRA Photo

Standing 6’2″, Gid Garstad was one of the outstanding bull riders of his time. His rodeo career started in 1956 and from 1957 to 1968, Gid was never less than fifth in the Canadian standings. He won the Canadian championship in 1958, ’59, ’64, ’65 and 1966 and also won the Canadian All Around championship at the Calgary Stampede. Gid won the bull riding event at the Calgary Stampede in 1958, ’65 and ’66. He qualified for and competed at the National Finals Rodeo in Oklahoma City, OK, in 1965 where he finished tenth in the world standings.

Garstad, Leo Brown and Wilf Girletz share the record for the most Canadian titles in the bull riding, which is five. Along with Wilf, Gid also shares the record for three consecutive titles.

This versatile competitor also competed in the saddle bronc riding, bareback riding and the steer wrestling.

He was the first recipient of the CN Woodward “Cowboy of the Year” Award in 1970 and was presented with the Calgary Stampede’s “Guy Weadick Memorial” Award.

Gid a former President of the Canadian Professional Rodeo Association was also one of the first people to manage the Central Rodeo Entry System.

Gid was born September 11, 1936 and was raised in the Coronation and Veteran AB area,
on completing his rodeo career, Gid operated a trucking business, was a farrier and a horse trader in the Turner Valley and Okotoks area where his family settled until his death October 19, 1985 at Calgary.

Courtesy of the Canadian Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame

 

Dakota Buttar – 60 points

Four PBR World Finals Qualifications (40) and two CPRA titles (20)

Buttar is the 2014 and 2015 Canadian Pro Rodeo Champion and pending a qualification this year, has made four-straight PBR World Finals since 2016. He’s also in the lead for the 2019 PBR Canada Championship which could give him another ten points.

 

Lawrence Hutchison – 60 points

Two NFR qualifications (40) and two Canadian titles (20)

Also holds record for youngest bull rider to ever win Canadian title.

 

Brian Claypool – 60 points

Two NFR qualifications (40) and two Canadian titles (20)

Brian Floyd Claypool accomplished a lot in 25 years, and although his life ended tragically in a plane crash in 1979, the young cowboy had already had what some would call the career of a lifetime.

Born in 1953 to parents Ralph and Ellen Claypool, Brian was considered a “natural athlete”, and excelled in a variety of sports, including amateur wrestling. He entered his first little britches rodeo in Winnipeg, MB in 1965, and in 1967 won the steer riding at the Calgary Stampede. He got on his first bull at the age of 14: “That was my birthday present, my father paid the entry fee”, said Claypool in a 1979 interview. “Best birthday present I ever got.”

Brian’s best known accomplishments were in bull riding, but he participated in all three rough stock events. He was both the CPRA Permit Award and Amateur Bronc Riding champ in 1972, and between 1972 and 1974 was winning at rodeos north and south of the border in both bull riding and bronc riding, including buckles in both at Pendleton.

In 1974 he began a three year domination of the bull riding, winning the Calgary Stampede, the Canadian championship in 1975, and both of them in 1976. He also represented Canada twice at the NFR, in 1974 and 1976. Independent minded, Brian liked to win, and took pride in “never making the same mistake twice”.

When the plane carrying Brian and three other pro cowboys went missing in May of 1979, the outpouring of support from the rodeo world was huge. As further proof of his legacy and impact on the sport, he was inducted into the Saskatchewan Sports Hall of Fame in 2001.

The memorial trophy in Brian Claypool’s name bears the following inscription: “Perpetuating the memory of a great Canadian, an outstanding rodeo athlete, always dedicated to the sport of rodeo. A natural gentleman; personifying the modern cowboy. As long as bulls spin, broncs twist and arena dust swirls, the memory of Brian will live on in our hearts.

Brian Claypool was inducted into the Canadian Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame in 2003.

Courtesy of the Canadian Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame

 

Wilf Girletz – 50 points

Five Canadian titles (50)

Wilf Girletz is a three-time Canadian champion all-around cowboy, and five-time bull riding champion, and still shares the record for most Canadian titles in this event. More recently a stock contractor specializing in bucking bulls, Wilf’s bull #013 Blaster was named the bull-of-the-year in Canada for 1990, and in 1991 #00 Double Ott was voted No. 1 by the bull riders.

Raised on a farm north of Calgary, Girletz first entered the professional rodeo arena in 1946 and pocketed day money in the novice saddle bronc at High River, AB.

From there he competed steadily in rodeos across Canada and the United States winning money, trophies and recognition in the bull riding, saddle bronc, bareback, steer wrestling and calf roping. He was the Canadian bull riding champion in 1948, ’50, ’51 ‘ 52 and ’55, and also captured the All-Around title in 1950, ’55 and ’57. He was among the top five competitors in the Canadian standings for over a decade from 1948 to 1960.

In 1957, Girletz bought a ranch north of Youngstown, Alberta, and together with his wife Maxine, raised a family of four. When his three sons became interested in riding, Girletz started to keep a few bulls. It was the beginning of Girletz Rodeo Stock, one of the major players in the rodeo game today.

Along with competing in the five major events, Wilf also competed in the wild horse racing and wild cow milking events. He won the Canadian wild cow milking championship in 1965 and ’66.

Wilf resided in Hanna, Alberta, raising prize rodeo bulls, until his passing on May 17, 1995. The all-around title at the Hanna Pro Rodeo is named the “Wilf Girletz Memorial” and continues to be one of the most sought-after buckles in all of Canadian Pro Rodeo to this day. Wilf Girletz was inducted into the Canadian Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame in 1994.

Courtesy of the Canadian Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame

 

Jordan Hansen – 50 points

Two NFR Qualifications (40) and one Canadian title (10)

Hansen makes this list of honorable mentions after qualifying for the Wrangler NFR once again in 2019. His first qualification came in 2017 and he even won the round on Canadian night. His Canadian title came in 2016 in the CPRA. At only 26 years old, Hansen could make his way up this list throughout his career. Will he become the first Canadian to qualify for five NFR’s?

 

Dan Lowry – 50 points

Two NFR Qualifications (40) and one Canadian title (10)

Dan Lowry was introduced to rodeo by his brother, Bill, while the family was living at Holden, Alberta. Soon brothers Bill, Jim and Mart were riding also, and practicing on the milk cows. When the family moved to Grande Forks, British Columbia, Dan’s brother Ben had started to ride too. Living in that location, most of their riding and practicing was happening in Washington State and at amateur rodeos in Southern BC.
With no money to attend a rodeo school, Dan bought a book called “Bobby Berger’s Basic Bull Riding.”

In the spring of 1975, having filled his permit by winning the bull riding at Wainwright, Dan entered all the CPRA rodeos. Ellensburg, Washington was his first PRCA rodeo. However, after riding his bull, he dislocated his hip and hitchhiked home. A broken ankle at Radville, Saskatchewan was the worst injury of his 17 year career.

The nickname of Sloughwater Dan was the result of a poem made up by Jim Dunn while they were traveling through Yellowstone Park. It stuck with him through his riding days and beyond. In 1980, Dan won the riding event at the first Wrangler Bull Fighting Championship in Oklahoma City.

1983 was a successful year, as he placed sixth in the World standings. In 1992, he finished sixth in the World again and was the season leader of the CPRA. That year he also led much of the season of the Bullriders’ Only matches.

Dan Lowry was inducted into the Canadian Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame in 2016.

Courtesy of the Canadian Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame

 

Ty Pozzobon – 50 points

Four PBR World Finals qualifications (40), one PBR Canada title (10)

Pozzobon was the first bull rider to ever be confirmed with CTE. From Merritt, British Columbia, he qualified for four PBR World Finals between 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2016. He was crowned the PBR Canada Champion, solidifying the title in his home province in Abbotsford in October of 2016 in front of family and friends. It’s a moment I’ll never forget. That was a hell of a ride on Johnny Ringo. I think I lost my voice after. Taken from us far too soon, Ty leaves his legacy now through the Ty Pozzobon Foundation. Learn more at TyPozzobon.com

Ty Pozzobon salutes the fans on the final day of competition at the 2016 PBR World Finals in Las Vegas, NV.

 

Kelly Armstrong – 50 points 

Two NFR qualifications (40) and one PBR World Finals qualification

Armstrong made the NFR in both 1997 and 1998 but was injured and unable to compete in 1998. He qualified for the PBR World Finals in 2002 and owns one of the highest marks ever by a Canadian bull rider at 94 points on Mossy Oak Mudslinger in Little Rock, Arkansas, also in 2002.

 

B.J. Kramps – 40 points 

Four PBR World Finals qualifications (40)

 

Chad Besplug – 40 points 

Three Canadian titles (30) and one PBR World Finals qualification (10)

 

Kagan Sirett – 40 points 

Two NFR qualifications (40)

 

Jordie Thomson – 40 points

Two NFR qualifications (40)

 

Scott Schiffner – 40 points

One PBR Canada title (10), two CPRA titles (20) and one PBR World Finals Qualification (10). 

 

Glen Keeley – 40 points

One NFR qualification (20), one PBR World Finals Qualification (10) and one Canadian title (10)

 

Zane Lambert – 30 points

Two PBR Canada titles (20) and one PBR World Finals Qualification (10)

 

Rueben Geleynse – 30 points

Three PBR World Finals qualifications (30)

 

Greg Schlosser – Rode Bodacious

That one was from Besplug, he’s also a three-time Canadian champ.

Special thanks: Storm Dafoe, Wacey Anderson, Don Johansen, Chad Besplug, Canadian Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame, Pro Rodeo Canada, PRCA Pro Rodeo, PBR, Alberta Sports Hall of Fame, Cody Snyder, Daryl Mills, Wayde Joyal, Dale Johansen, Rob Bell and countless others for their help and support.

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