PEERS, Alberta — Everyone loves watching a good bronc ride. There’s something beautiful about seeing a saddle bronc rider and the bucking stock work together to put on a truly special ride.
But what happens when you take the rider and shrink him down to about 4-foot-nothing and put him on the back of a miniature pony that’s born to buck?
You get Mini Bronc Riding, one of the most entertaining new events in rodeo.
The sport pits young rodeo competitors between the ages of six and 14 against a pen of miniature ponies with a bit of a mean streak.
“It just helps them get to where they can ride on the big stage. It exposes them properly where they’re not getting fed to the wolves,” said Travis James, the owner of Rank Mini Pony.
James, who has been bucking mini broncs for the past three years, has been hard at work preparing for his company’s flagship event, the Rank Mini Pony Canadian Cup, which takes place this weekend in Peers, Alta.
The Canadian Cup is the culmination of a months-long season that spans more than 30 Mini Bronc ridings that take place all over Alberta, British Columbia and Saskatchewan.
The event, which is going into its third year, is the largest Mini Bronc riding in Canada with 40 contestants gunning for a combined $5,000 in prizes.
“There’s three rounds and a short round and we’re projected to buck 150 ponies and the kids ride for a combined $5,000 in prize money plus buckles and pendants for winners,” James said.
And if that wasn’t enough, the weekend will also feature appearances from professional rodeo personnel, including announcer Dustin Edwards and photographer Covy Moore and will be judged by four-time Canadian Champion bareback rider Dusty LaValley.
In addition to the prize money, the winners of the bareback riding will have the chance to represent their country at the Mini Bareback Riding and Mini Saddle Bronc Riding World Championship in Las Vegas this December.
“They break it down into little divisions, so from Peers, that will be a bit less than half the kids from Canada that go,” James said.
The event is taking place in conjunction with Peers Gold Dust Daze and is just one of a number of different events taking place around the hamlet including a heavy horse pull and a slo-pitch tournament.
The Rank Mini Pony Canadian Cup Championship runs this Saturday and Sunday in Peers, Alta. with performances at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. on Saturday and 11 a.m. and 6 p.m. on Sunday.