Skijordue

 

STORY & PHOTOS BY JENN WEBSTER

It’s official. Canadians might have a slight obsession with Skijoring. Because if Skijordue held on February 11, 2017 at the Calgary Polo Club was any indication, the concept just grew in popularity with hundreds of stoked fans in the country. Which later translated to thousands of photos, videos and all kinds of media coverage going viral across the globe.

By all accounts, Skijordue 2017, brought to us by the Alberta Skijor Socierty (check out the hashtag, #ASS) was an epic cocktail of speed, snow and horsepower. More than 600 people showed up to witness three events run over the course of the day; circuit, long jump and sprint.

Inside the polo cantina, a culinary delight of cheese fondue and adult bevvies were on hand, plus the grilling of more 300 Spolumbos Sausages wrapped in fresh baked Continental Rolls were available on the outside grills. Western Horse Review was proud to sponsor the day and as we predicted, Skijordue 2017 was the not-be-missed extreme sporting event of the year!

Congratulations to Sam and Graham Mitchell of Millarville, AB, and all the people behind the scenes who came together to put on such a fantastical day.

Make no mistake, this was a badass affair – with a hearty-serving of mind-boggling equine athleticism and skier mayhem at every glance.

There were also several moments of elation and pure greatness.

And if that weren’t enough, Skijordue might become the social and fashion event of the year too. Everything from the spandex and neon styles wonderfully anachronistic of the 80s, to fur and fringe of the modern West, were on display.

 

But one of our distinctly favorite parts of the event was the fact that people of all equestrian disciplines were brought together at Skijordue. Jumpers, team penners, polo players, ropers, trail riders, reiners, etc. alike, came to try out something new and as a result, benefited the Prairie Sky Equine Assisted Therapy Association.

It was a perfect day.

Stay tuned to the March/April issue of Western Horse Review for full coverage of the day!

Skijordue 2017

Photo by Twisted Tree Photography.

There is an event happening in southern Alberta this February 11, that is more anticipated than the current blast of snow we’re receiving. With fast ponies, plus skiers or snowboarders looking for their next thrill, Skijordue 2017 promises to be the not-be-missed extreme sporting event of the year!

Held at the Calgary Polo Club and in support of the Prairie Sky Equine Assisted Therapy Association, Skijordue will feature sprint and circuit races, plus a long jump. Oh and there will be jaw-dropping trick riding stunts performed by Alanna Nolan and Western Horse Review’s own Sally Bishop!

There will also be Yodelling & Alphorn performance from members of the astonishing Yodel Club Heimattreu – Jodlerklub Heimattreu, Calgary Canada

Photo by Twisted Tree Photography.

Gates open at 10:30am. Races start at 11:00am sharp.

Flaunt your fanciest furs & glammest glasses to win the most Stylish Spectator prize package from uber-chic modern western boutique Cody & Sioux!

Inside the Calgary Polo Club Cantina there will be a patio and heaters, bonfires, a Race Commentator, DJ and Cheese Fondue, Bratwurst & Beverage concession (*cash only*). PLUS! Freestyle ski/board exhibitions.

Photo by Twisted Tree Photography.

Your $5, (cash only please), grants you entry plus a bunch of door prize draws throughout the day, so keep your ticket close & your ears open!  DJ G will be spinning mad techno yodelling mixes to get the patio dance floor bumpin’. This is set to be the most exciting snow-equine-fromage event of the season!

IT’S SNOWING, SO COME CHECK IT OUT!

Photo by Twisted Tree Photography.

So much awesomeness coming together, here’s some of what the Alberta Skijoring Society #ASS has got lined up for you:

*FAAAAST horses & ninja skiers from far & wide.
*Groovy tunes & goofy door prize draws from DJ Graham Mitchell
*Entertaining erudite race commentary from the incomparable Alan Leys
*Jaw dropping trick riding from stunners Alanna Nolan & Sally Bishop
*Yodelling & Alphorn performance from members of the astonishing Yodel Club Heimattreu – Jodlerklub Heimattreu, Calgary Canada
*Epic images from Chad Rowbotham Photography
*Rad video coverage from Atomic10 Inc.
*Proficient paramedics Courtney Isbister & Radar Goddard
*Handsome handy marshalling by Dace Cochlan & Dave Callaway
*Judicious judging by Tracy Thorbjornsen & Anne Thompson

*Venue vistas with SNOW from Gordon Ross Remax

*Truck-Truck viewing experience extravaganza with uber host JR Cox of The Shooting Edge Inc & William Evans Canada

*Prizes prizes PRIZES!!! From: Little Monkey Metal Works, Smithbilt Hats Inc., SS Chaps, Bar T5 Agra Services, Country Living and Garden Centre, Monod Sports, LTD, Sporting Life, Cody & Sioux, Western Specialties, Cam Clark Ford, Water’s Edge Pub, Jane’s, Coffee shop, delicous food and fine art, Sweetgrass Deli & Eatery, Wild Rose Brewery, Knaughty Nets & Pets, Chuckwagon Cafe

Saskatchewan Equine Expo 2017

The sixth annual edition of the Saskatchewan Equine Expo is set to take place this upcoming February 16-19, 2017 at Prairieland Park in Saskatoon, SK. The park, in conjunction with volunteers from Saskatchewan Horse Federation, the Western College of Veterinary Medicine and various equine breed groups work together to facilitate this annual event. The objective is to present equine related lectures, presentations, demonstrations, entertainment and opportunities focusing on the equine industry. As a participant or spectator, you can experience the newest equine products, techniques and technology.

Tickets are on sale now and the show includes the extravaganza, tradeshow, demonstrations and clinics. Tickets are available online and can be found here: http://saskatchewanequineexpo.com/

A schedule of events can be found here: http://saskatchewanequineexpo.com/schedule

*

Organizers of the event realized there was a need within the Saskatchewan horse industry for a quality event that showcased the newest technological advances, the latest developments in equine health, and a demonstration of horsemanship excellence that was equally entertaining and educational.

The Saskatchewan Equine Expo was the answer. On February 16-19, the event will once again celebrate the diversity of the equine industry with live demonstrations, breeds on display, and outstanding horsemen and women. Make plans to be there!

www.saskatchewanequineexpo.com

 

Doc West: Western Feedlot Closure

Illustration by Dave Elston

Doc, I’m a city girl who owns horses. With the intention of understanding, I have to ask about the recent Western Feedlot closure, given the waves of discontent it stirred up amongst my country friends. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not completely naïve, since I’ve taken up a western performance horse sport, I’ve come to understand just how entwined the cattle industry is with the horse world. Alberta raises more cattle than any other province, so what I don’t understand about the closing down of Western Feedlot is why the owners pointed their fingers at Bill 6 and the incoming carbon tax – at least that’s what many read into the cryptic “poor political and economic conditions” they cited as the reason for the shut-down. Doesn’t nearly every other province in Canada already have a Farm Safety Act? Why can’t Alberta, the province of prosperity, handle one? Additionally, what’s the beef with the incoming carbon tax?

Poor political and economic conditions. Cryptic indeed. What were the proprietors of one of Canada’s largest feedlot, in business since 1958, thinking when they decided to simply lock their doors, board their windows and ride off into the sunset leaving us only a dour note of derision? Agriculture Minister, Oneil Carlier washed away any responsibility from Alberta’s new “Orange Overlords” (no, not Donald Trump), citing “a significant decrease in the price of cattle.” Without a doubt a one-year drop of approximately 30% in Alberta-fed cattle prices left all beef producers in a tough spot. However, not everyone picked up their ball and went home. So what gives?

Let’s begin with the first part of the equation – economic conditions. You mention a few things, the carbon tax for one – aka, the sacred cow of the NDP plan to pacify environmental zealotry and acquire a “social license” for pipeline construction and long term provincial prosperity. The plan was after all, well researched, well coordinated and supported by all the relevant economists and policy wogs. The provincial  government would tax Albertans for carbon and the rest of the nation would nod in admiration and as a reward for our environmental stewardship we would be “allowed” to build pipelines. Even the oil bigwigs bought in, with billionaire oil tycoon and Calgary Flames owner Murray Edwards standing shoulder to shoulder with Premier Rachel Notley – portraying an image of big government and big business paving the way for pipelines to pump Alberta crude west to China, Alberta transfer payments east to Quebec, and profits due north – right into Mr. Edward’s pockets.

What wasn’t calculated in the grand scheme was the effect a carbon tax was going to have on less lucrative sectors of Alberta’s economy, those that traded beef, not bitumen, and calculated profits with a HD pencil, not a hard drive. Agriculture in particular was never consulted on the effect of a carbon tax on already razor thin margins. Paying “just a little bit more” on gasoline for the truck, or diesel for the tractor, or natural gas for the house, or shop, or barn, may not mean much to Suncor but it means a great deal to a small family farms that exists in perpetuity, teetering on the cusp of red ink. Tack on a legislated increase in minimum wages and mandatory new worker compensation remittances as the “orange brigade” fired volley after volley into the economic heart of rural Alberta.

To the second part of your question, why can’t Alberta handle a Farm Safety Act (otherwise known as the Act to Regulate your Family Farm like a Winnipeg Textile Factory)? If your reference to “can’t handle” is whipping up the country folk into a berserk-like rage to the point of armed resistance, well, yes there is a reason. Bill 6 named the Farm Safety Act purports to protect farm workers, but the name belies the totality of its effect on the rural culture, which is to allow government to monitor and regulate your business. There is nothing more pestilent-smacking to an Albertan farmer or rancher than the word regulation, ranking right up there with drought, internal parasites, mad cow disease and hemorrhoids.

You see the West, and in particular Alberta, once represented an idea – that you could make a life without selling your life to make it. It wasn’t important what you did, but it was important how you did it. Opportunity was riding in a saddle, rather than stitching one in a factory somewhere. Whether you were a spoiled city kid from North York, or an iron-willed freed slave from the Carolinas, or fragile Englishmen whose sense of self overreached reality, you came West because it meant opportunity, but more importantly it meant freedom and opportunity. Your identity became tied to it – and eventually defined by it. To the western farmer or rancher, Bill 6 didn’t mean farm safety, it meant bookish millennials in shiny George Stroumboulopoulos suits toting satchels stuffed with ipads and dried kale snacks arriving uninvited to pronounce an older squeeze needs replacement, or issue a citation because a hayshed doesn’t meet code.

Your summation is correct, rural Alberta couldn’t handle that.

“Poor political and economic conditions,” was not a grievance about the calculation of profit – it was instead a signal, a beacon if you will, flashed painfully and brightly for those that could see it – the West is under siege. The place we had come to, that everyone who came here had come to, had changed. The way we used to do business in particular had changed – the Alberta advantage, the free-wheeling, gun-slinging enterprise that built the greatest province in the Dominion now mired in taxes and regulation and inspectors. Just like everywhere else. The note the proprietors at Western Feedlot left was not so much a parting shot to the current ruling elites, it was simply a statement of reality – that we are no longer home and we are moving on. For those of us to have lived here long enough to understand, it wasn’t cryptic at all.

Three World Champions For Canada!

Zeke Thurston is the 2016 Saddle Bronc World Champion.

 

CANADIAN PROFESSIONAL RODEO ASSOCIATION

It might have been the greatest fifteen minutes in the history of Canadian Professional Rodeo.

For the first time ever Canadians have ridden away from the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo with three world titles. Levi Simpson and Jeremy Buhler in the Team Roping and Zeke Thurston in the Saddle Bronc Riding are all sporting the coveted gold buckles of World Champions.

Simpson from Ponoka (via Claresholm) and Buhler from Arrowwood had already made history when they became the first all-Canadian team to qualify for the WNFR. But that apparently wasn’t enough for the Alberta duo as they put together a 4.3 second run in the tenth and final go round at the Thomas and Mack Arena to split 1/2 and pick up a cheque of $23,480.77. That was good enough to take the team to the average title and a whopping $67,269.23 per man.

Put all that together along with the fact that some of the teams they were chasing struggled in the final round and the first-time qualifiers were World Champions—Levi with $249,133.31 in season earnings and Jeremy, sporting the most famous beard in rodeo, earning $258,311.13.

The talented twosome roped nine of ten steers, placed on seven, winning the first round and splitting first and second in two more including the critical tenth round.  When the announcement was made, both cowboys were close to speechless, unlike the Canadian fans, both in the arena and back in Canada. The roar of approval was long and very loud.

Barrhead’s Kolton Schmidt, and American partner Shay Carroll, after winning the ninth go-round with the fastest time of the entire WNFR (3.6) took a no time in the tenth round.

The saddle bronc riding event follows team roping on the NFR program which meant that almost exactly fifteen minutes after Simpson and Buhler had laid claim to their title, Big Valley, Alberta cowboy, Zeke Thurston, climbed down in the chutes on the back of the Andrews Rodeo bronc, Fire Lane. The second generation qualifier, who came into the final round two points out of the lead for the average put together another solid ride for an 86 score to split 3/4 in the round and a cheque for $13,326.92. When Jake Watson posted 82.5 points and world leader/defending champion, Jacobs Crawley missed his horse out, Thurston vaulted to first place in the average and a season total of $265,449.45 to edge Crawley for the world title by just $2831.

“I wouldn’t trade it for anything,” the recently married Thurston grinned. “I just can’t believe it. It’s crazy. I had a good week. I started off a little slow but things picked up. Luckily I was able to stay on nine of them. I knew the only way I could beat Jacobs was if they got him down or they missed him out and that doesn’t happen very often with Jacobs. It just goes to show you that anything can happen.”

For Watson, the Hudson’s Hope, BC cowboy, the 82.5 on Frontier Rodeo’s Short Stop was enough to  split sixth in the round and finish up second in the average. The 23-year-old had a brilliant WNFR in his own right, as he climbed all the way from 15th place going in to fifth place in the world standings.

The third member of the talented Canadian bronc riding trio, Canadian champion Clay Elliott, captured fifth place in the final round on Frontier Rodeo’s Delta Force to collect $6,769. The Nanton cowboy finished up 11th in the world with season earnings of $139,759.

Jake Vold ended his Wrangler National Finals Rodeo almost exactly the same way he started with a sixth place finish, this time with an 84.5 score on J Bar J’s All Pink. In between the first and last rounds, Jake won three go-rounds and finished the WNFR with $165,339 in earnings to end up second in the world standings with $240,161.

Manitoba’s Orin Larsen who re-injured separated ribs in the first round of this Finals, finished strong – placing in the last five rounds including a go round win in round #8, and wound up third in the world standings with $219,372.

That means that of the eight competitors who proudly rode for the maple leaf, there were three firsts (two in one event), a second a third and a fifth, and a total WNFR haul that exceeded one million dollars – making this group easily the most successful in Canadian rodeo history.

Tim O’Connell of Zwingle, Iowa won both the average and the world title in the bareback riding.

There was a Canadian connection in the Tie Down Roping as well as three-time Canadian Champion Tyson Durfey, the Weatherford, Texas hand, roped his way to the world title with $212,445 to slip by the Brazilian Marcos Costa by less than $4,000. Riley Pruitt of Gering, Nebraska was the average winner.

Tyler Waguespack, from Gonzales, Louisiana, was the average winner and world champion steer wrestler as well as the Top Gun winner, emblematic of being the highest money winner of the finals.

One of the very popular wins took place in the barrel racing where 68 year old Oklahoma barrel racer, Mary Burger, hung on to win her second title with just a five thousand dollar margin of victory over first time qualifier Amberleigh Moore of Keizer, Oregon. Four time Canadian champion, Lisa Lockhart of Oelrichs, South Dakota won the average title with ten clean runs.

And in the bull riding, it was Sage Steele Kimzey, the mega-talented Strong City, Oklahoma cowboy, making it back to back to back titles as he finished up with earnings of over $300,000 and a $24,000 margin of victory over fellow Oklahoman Breenon Eldred. Former world champion, Shane Proctor, of Grand Coulee, Washington won the bull riding average title.

Team roper Junior Nogueira was the All-Around champion with $231,728.

How To Spell Relief… W-I-N

 

CANADIAN PROFESSIONAL RODEO ASSOCIATION

For Barrhead’s Kolton Schmidt and American partner, Shay Carroll, it took nine rounds to get the monkey off their backs and win their first cheque of this WNFR. But when they did it, they did it right, making that cheque a first place payoff ($26,239 per man) while recording the fastest time of the rodeo through nine rounds — a sensational 3.6 seconds.

Schmidt, riding the PRCA/AQHA Heading Horse of the Year, Badger, and Carroll had come to the Finals with a legitimate shot at a world title but encountered a series of frustrations though the first eight days of the rodeo.

“It’s kind of funny,” Schmidt chuckled. “This was the fastest time of the week and the slowest I’ve gone in my mind. I think I’ve just been going too fast up until now. I knew with my horse and my heeler if I did my job, it would work out.”

Carroll agreed. “I picked this guy for a reason at the start of the year,” he said of his heading partner. “I’m not surprised at all. I knew he’d rope like he can and I just wanted to be ready.”

Ponoka’s Levi Simpson and his Arrowwood, Alberta partner Jeremy Buhler bounced back from their first no time of this Finals in the eighth round to post a 4.6 second run to place 4th on this night and move up a notch in the average race to second spot. The Alberta cowboys are 8 of 9 and just 1.6 seconds out of first place in the average and the $67,000 first place aggregate cheques.

Leading the world standings heading into the final round are Luke Brown of Stephenville, Texas and Jake Long of Coffeyville, Kansas.

The phenomenal comeback story of this WNFR, bareback rider, Orin Larsen, placed in the round for the 4th night in a row. He’s had to battle back from re-injuring the rib-tear he suffered back in September. After being blanked through the first five rounds, he made the statement, “I have no choice – I have to win.” Since making that pronouncement, winning is exactly what he’s done, including taking his first-ever victory lap at the Thomas and Mack Arena in go round number eight.

Tonight the Manitoba cowboy was 86.5 on Pete Carr Pro Rodeo’s former world champion bareback horse, MGM Dirty Jacket, to collect a third place cheque of $15,653 and give him $62,190 over the last four rounds.

Three time Canadian champion Jake Vold continued his outstanding WNFR, placing 4th for an $11,000 payday. The Ponoka product has also climbed to 3rd place overall in the average at a finals that has seen him win three rounds and place in six overall.

Tanner Aus was the top gun in the round with an 88.5 score and Tim O’Connell continues to hold a comfortable lead in the world championship race heading to the final day. Wayne Vold Rodeo’s outstanding grey, True Grit, carried Ty Breuer to 83.5 and a sixth place cheque of $4,230 to kick off the go round.

The saddle bronc riding wasn’t as good to the youthful Canadian trio as it had been in recent rounds that saw all three place on each of the previous three nights. In round nine, Big Valley’s Zeke Thurston was out of the money with a 77.5 score while both Clay Elliott (Nanton, AB) and Jake Watson (Hudson’s Hope, BC)  were bucked off. The silver lining  in this cloud is that despite bucking off for the first time in nine rounds, Watson will go to the last go round in first place in the average, with 663 points on eight rides, just one point ahead of reigning world champion and overall leader, Jacobs Crawley. Thurston is another point back in third spot in the average.

Eighteen year-old Ryder Wright has ridden five horses at the 2016 WNFR. And he’s won all five of those go-rounds. This time around, the youngest of the remarkable Utah family, posted an 88.5 on Cervi Championship Rodeo’s Vitalix Alpha Dog for the win.

2012 World Champion (and Ryder’s uncle) Jesse Wright rode Calgary Stampede’s Tokyo Bubbles to an 85.5 for second place in the round.

A couple of races tightened up in this second last round of what cowboys call ‘the Marathon’. In the bull riding, Brennon Eldred posted the third highest score in the history of the WNFR – 94.5 points – to win the round and close to within shooting distance of two time champion Sage Kimzey for this year’s title. The Sulphur, Oklahoma man rode D and H Cattle’s SweetPro’s Bruiser for the $26,230 cheque and forces a showdown with Kimzey and third place man, Shane Proctor, on Saturday night.

In the barrel race, Mary Burger who brought a sizable lead to the Finals has seen that lead eroded by the amazing performance of Amberleigh Moore. Burger, the 68 year-old former champion hit a barrel in round nine while Moore, the Keizer, Oregon cowgirl, won the round with a 13.49 and like the bull riding, the barrel racing championship will come down to the final runs on the final night to determine the 2016 title holder.

The steer wrestling go round winner was Riley Duvall in 3.6 while Tyler Waguespack of Gonzales, Louisiana leads the average and the world standings heading to the final round. And in the tie down roping it was Marty Yates and former world All-Around champion Ryan Jarrett sharing the victory lap with a pair of 7.4 second runs. Brazilian Marcos Costa leads the world with Yates who started in 15th place now sitting second but neither man is in the average. That gives a bit of an edge to the third place man, Oklahoman Hunter Herrin, who is holding down 4th place in the all-important, and very lucrative, average. This race too will be decided in Saturday night’s tenth and final go-round.

Canada Night

 

CANADIAN PROFESSIONAL RODEO ASSOCIATION

The Canadian contingent went into their night at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo needing just $38,000 to top the half million dollar mark in take home pay from the ten million dollar event, easily surpassing the best previous Canadian performance.

And Orin Larsen wasted no time in getting ‘Team Canada’ closer to that milestone payoff as he made his best ride of the 2016 WNFR with an 87.5 score on Frontier Rodeo’s Full Baggage to win his first ever go-round and the $26,000 plus first place cheque. The talented Manitoba cowboy has fashioned an inspirational story as he re-injured a painful rib tear in the opening round but has refused to give in. And over the last three days, Larsen has placed in all three rounds to win almost fifty thousand dollars.

“Full Baggage – he’s a big, strong horse that I’ve always wanted to get on and there’s no better place to do that than right here,” Larsen noted with a smile. “That trip to the South Point (nightly go-round buckle presentations) is something I’ve wanted to do since I was a little kid – that’s going to be an emotional roller coaster for sure.”

Referencing the pain that has been an unpleasant accompaniment to every one of his rides at the Finals, the two time WNFR qualifier was philosophical. “It’s not too bad during the ride other than the popping and crunching that’s happening. But after the ride, that’s when I can feel it. But tonight I won so I feel pretty good.”

Airdrie’s Jake Vold who won three rounds in a row earlier at this Finals, had some trouble with the Pickett Rodeo bareback horse, Top Notch and had to settle for just 70.5 points.

Canadian bareback horses had a big night as C5 Rodeo’s Virgil packed Winn Ratliff to 86.5 and second place while Big Stone Rodeo’s Call Me Kindra carried JR Vezain to an 85 point 3/4 split.

For the third night in a row all three Canadian saddle bronc riders were in the money. The ‘kids’ (the oldest is 23) were led by Nanton’s Clay Elliott who rode Burch Rodeo’s Lunatic Fringe to an 86 point second place finish and a $20,730 dollar payday. Big Valley cowboy Zeke Thurston spurred out an 85 point effort on Pete Carr Rodeo’s Manhattan Moon for third place money of $15,653 and the guy who has been Mr. Consistency through the first eight days in Las Vegas – Jake Watson of Hudson’s Hope, BC – made it eight for eight with an 82 point ride on JK Rodeo’s Dakota Babe for 6th place and $4,230.

Watson sits in top spot in the average and Thurston who has bucked off only one horse (at 7.92 seconds) is right behind Watson in the average with just two go-rounds remaining.

Two time World Champion, Cody Wright turned back the clock on this night and rode like his two sons Rusty and Ryder who are among the five Wrights qualified for Las Vegas in 2016. The elder statesman of the family was a brilliant 88 points on Lipstick and Whiskey from Powder River Rodeo, a horse that 18-year-old Ryder rode to a go round win earlier in the week.

The lone disappointment for the dedicated Canadian fans, who had the flags waving with attitude tonight, came in the team roping as Levi Simpson (Ponoka) and Jeremy Buhler (Arrowwood) took their first no time of the rodeo and fell to third place in the average. Barrhead’s Kolton Schmidt went after it but broke the barrier to take him and Texas partner Shay Carroll to a 13.9 with the ten second penalty.

The 2016 Canadian champion team of Dustin Bird from Cutbank, Montana and Russell Cardoza from Terrebonne, Oregon were picture perfect in making the fastest run of the week, a sensational 3.7 seconds to win the round and keep Bird in the #1 spot in the All-Around standings.

Terrell, Texas bulldogger Clayton Hass won the round in his event with a 4.1 second run and remains in contention for both the steer wrestling and all-around titles. And in the barrel race, Oregon cowgirl, Amberleigh Moore, equaled the arena record with her 13.37 to win the round while former champion, Mary Burger, at 68 years young finished third in the round with a 13.66 to inch closer to her second world title.

Three Canadian champions finished atop the tie down roping leaderboard for the eighth go-round. Sulphur, Louisiana’s Shane Hanchey topped the round with a 6.8 second run; Blackfoot Idaho’s Matt Shiozawa (the reigning Canadian Champ) was second at 7.1 and the new dad from the state of Washington, Tyson Durfey, finished up in third spot with a 7.3.

It was fitting that in the Canada Night finale, it was a Canadian bull, Wayne Vold Rodeo’s Cooper’s Comet, that carried Fruita, Colorado cowboy, Tyler Smith, to an 89 point win in a round that saw only two men able to ride. In two trips at the 2016 WNFR, Cooper’s Comet, the 2016 Canadian Bull of the Year, has been 88.5 and 89 points and his riders, Smith and Roscoe Jarboe have both won the rounds.

Solid Night for Team Canada

 

CANADIAN PROFESSIONAL RODEO ASSOCIATION

Canadians continued their assault on the Wrangler National Finals’ chequing account and their own all-time earnings record in Wednesday’s seventh round.

The big move for the Canadian contingent once again came courtesy of the team roping duo, Levi Simpson and Jeremy Buhler. The talented twosome, from Ponoka and Arrowwood, Alberta respectively, roped their steer in 4.3 seconds to split second in the round and add $18,192 to their earnings total. More importantly, they moved to first place in the average and are the only team to have roped all seven of their steers. The average or aggregate – which is the total time on ten head – pays $67,000 to the first-place finisher.

“We just missed getting to the Finals last year,” Simpson commented, “so we changed a few things so that wouldn’t happen again. We went to fewer rodeos so we could be rested and focused for the ones we did go to.”

“We’re just trying to stay aggressive and take it one night at a time,” Buhler added. “Levi’s turning ‘em just great and I’m just trying to do my job on the back side.”

Matt Sherwood and Quinn Kesler won the round with a 4.1 while the third Canadian in the team roping, Barrhead, Alberta’s Kolton Schmidt along with Texas partner, Shay Carroll continued to struggle and finished out of the money in round seven.

Jake Watson is quickly becoming one of the very cool stories of the 2016 WNFR. On a night that saw all three Canadian bronc riders cash some chips, the 23-year-old Hudson’s Hope, BC, cowboy stuck an 83.5 point ride on the three time Canadian champion saddle bronc, Get Smart from the Northcott Macza firm. Watson, who barely squeaked into 15th place to qualify for his first WNFR, split 2/3/4 in the round, for a $15,794 payday. He’s climbed all the way to first place in the average and 7th in the world standings with over $143,000 won. Watson split the round with world leader and defending champion, Jacobs Crawley and Jake Wright who was aboard the Calgary Stampede’s Waning Moon. Another Stampede bronc, Tiger Warrior, ended the perfect run of first time finalist Allen Boore who was 6 for 6 before tonight’s encounter with the Grated Coconut son.

Reigning Canadian champion Clay Elliott put together an 81 point effort on Stace Smith’s Pretty Boy for a fifth place $6769 cheque while Zeke Thurston, who won round six, teamed with Burch Rodeo’s Angel Slings for 6th place in the round and $4,230.

Orin Larsen followed up his 2/3 spilt and first cheque of the Wrangler National Finals rodeo in Tuesday’s sixth go-round with a split of sixth place in round seven to add a $2,215 cheque to the $18 thousand plus he collected the day before. The Manitoba product, who came to the WNFR in second place, was 78 points on Rafter G Rodeo’s Ankle Biter. Meanwhile the blazing pistols of Jake Vold cooled slightly on this night. The Ponoka cowboy who had won the previous three rounds was out of the money in round seven as he managed a 76 score on Beutler and Son’s Nod Big .Com Wonderland. Vold remains in second place in the average and fourth in the world.

The California man and Canadian Finals Rodeo qualifier, RC Landingham won the round with an 84.5 on a horse called Scarlet Fever while Tim O’Connell continues to enjoy a commanding lead atop the bareback riding leaderboard. On the stock side where going into round seven, $240,000 had been won on Canadian horses and bulls, the Calgary Stampede’s Trail Dust carried Texan Richie Champion to 79 points and a fifth place cheque for $6,769.

Defending average champion, Dakota Endridge won the round in the steer wrestling with a 3.4 second time. Leading the world after seven rounds is Louisiana cowboy Tyler Waguespack with $204,000. Mary Burger came to Las Vegas leading the world and the 68-year-old grandmother continued her storybook year as she and her tremendous gelding, Mo, posted a 13.58  to win the round and consolidate her lead for the world title. Canadian champion Matt Shiozawa of Blackfoot, Idaho won his first round of this WNFR with a 7.3 second run one night after he suffered the misfortune of having his rope break to force a no time.

And in the bull riding, all eyes were initially focused on Sage Kimzey and his quest for a third world title. But former world champion, Shane Proctor, has become one of the big storylines and tonight he made it seven for seven as the Washington cowboy was part of a three-way split of first with 85 points. Joining Kimzey in the Winner’s Circle were Garrett Tribble and Cody Rostockyj.

Big Bucks Go North of 49

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CANADIAN PROFESSIONAL RODEO ASSOCIATION

The Canadian saddle bronc riders have been watching the bareback riders and team ropers getting all the headlines. And in go-round six of the 2016 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo, they decided to do something about it.

The youthful trio enjoyed their finest hour to date as all three Canadian bronc riders placed in the round for the first time at this Finals. It was Big Valley’s Zeke Thurston leading the way as he put together a spectacular 88.5 on C5 Rodeo’s Black Hills for his first-ever WNFR go-round win. The win gives him $49,923 in earnings to date and third place in the slot machine-like average.

Right behind the second generation bronc rider was Hudson Hope, BC’s Jake Watson with his 87 point effort on Frontier Rodeo’s Times Up. The second place cheque meant the very consistent Watson is now 6 for 6 and has moved to the overall lead in the average. The third member of the Canuck threesome, Canadian Champion Clay Elliott, saw his 82.5 on Big Rafter Rodeo’s Pearl hold on for a split of sixth place and $2,115.

“That’s just a really nice little horse of Vern’s (MacDonald),” Thurston grinned after his ride. “I’ve had her a couple of times before and I’ve won quite a bit of money on her. She felt really good out there.”

Thurston had to put the disappointment of a 7.92 second buckoff earlier in the week behind him and is definitely in a groove now. “Yeah, Killer Bee is one of the buckiest horses I’ve ever been on.” Thurston acknowledged. “I set an arena record on him at Tucson but here he got me. You just have to put those things out of your mind and get ready for the next one.”

* * * * * * * * * * * *

“It’s not over ‘till I win.”

Those were the words of Canadian bareback rider, Orin Larsen. The talented Manitoba cowboy had not had the finals he had hoped for, particularly as he came into the Wrangler NFR in second place in the world standings and was coming off a terrific Canadian Finals Rodeo that saw him win three rounds.

But it was clear almost from the outset that all was not right with the soft-spoken two time WNFR qualifier.

“I’d torn some ribs back in September but after the CFR I thought I was pretty well home free. But about two or three jumps out on my first round horse here (Frontier Rodeo’s Night Watch) I felt a pop and knew I’d tore them again.”

Not one to look for an excuse, Larsen was quick to accentuate the positive. “The Sport Medicine Team has done as awesome job of keeping me in one piece,” he stated. “ I’m really looking forward to the last half of the Finals.” That despite admitting to ‘feeling it crunch and pop’ as he rides.

Larsen noted as well that he’s aware of the support of Canadian fans both here in Las Vegas and back in Canada. “That means so much to me; I really appreciate it,” he smiled. “I don’t have any choice. I have to go out there and win.”

It turns out that those fans and Larsen’s attitude were just the combination to get his week turned around.

In tonight’s round six, he climbed aboard Bar T Rodeo’s Ruby’s Girl and did what he has done all season long, spurring out an 85 score to split 2/3 in the round and pocket his first cheque of this finals, a sizable $18,192 payoff. In fact, only one man was better.

And that man, fellow Canadian, Jake Vold, was a half point better on Burch Rodeo’s Jim Dandy to post his third go-round win in succession. Vold’s $91,000 plus haul has moved him to 4th place in both the average and the world standings with four rounds remaining.

“I had Jim Dandy here in 2014; I think it was in the same round,” Vold recalled, “and I knew he was good. But I think I rode him better this time.”

As happy as he was with his own performance, Vold was equally tickled to see his countryman enjoy some success. “Orin is as tough as nails – riding with separated ribs; I was really excited to see him win a big cheque tonight.”

A couple of Canadian horses grabbed a share of the spotlight in the bareback riding as well. The Calgary Stampede’s Tootsie Roll carried Tanner Aus to an 84 point ride and 4th place in the round while Kesler Rodeo’s Starburst was the mount for Jake Brown’s 84 point 5/6 split.

The all Canadian team roping duo of Levi Simpson and Jeremy Buhler kept their streak of qualified runs going with a 9.3 to finish just out of the money but maintain their hold on second place in the average. Lady luck continued to plague the third Canadian team roper, Kolton Schmidt, and his Texas partner, Shay Carroll as the team is still without a cheque to date.

The $416,000 won by Canadian competitors at the 2016 WNFR has made this finals the most lucrative for Canadian contestants in the history of the event.

In the bull riding, Outlaw Buckers’ Chip Shot carried Rexburg, Idaho’s Garrett Smith to 82 points, just outside of the money in a round that saw Minnesota’s Brennon Eldred ride Championship Pro Rodeo’s The Duke to a 90.5 score for the win.

There was a three-way split for first in the steer wrestling between Billy Bugenig, Riley Duvall and Tyler Waguespack – all with 3.6 second runs. Two time Canadian Champion Tyson Durfey was the quickest of the tie-down ropers with a 7.4. And in the barrel racing, Utah cowgirl Kimmie Wall ran the fastest time of the finals to date – a 13.46 – for her second round win this week.