SUBMITTED BY DWAYNE ERICKSON FOR THE CANADIAN PROFESSIONAL RODEO ASSOCIATION
Curtis Cassidy found out what Cowboy Christmas was all about last summer for the first time in his 14-year career.
He enjoyed it so much he piled up enough excuses to celebrate the July holiday week rush again this year.
Cassidy earned $21,829 out of two rodeos – the Jubilee celebration at the Ponoka Stampede and the Williams Lake Stampede in B.C.’s caribou country.
The bulk of his money came in the steer wrestling, where he won the average and the bonus run at Ponoka and cashed first in the lucrative one-header at Williams Lake.
In all, his bulldogging income came to $17,970, ran his seasonal earnings in the Canadian standings to $26,519 and a huge lead over his closest rival.
The remaining $3,859 came in the tie-down roping, a fifth-place run at Williams Lake paying $2,482 and seventh in the average at Ponoka returning $1,377.
“I sure can’t complain about anything,” Cassidy said. “Everything just fell into place for the second year in a row. I’m extremely happy.”
Cassidy worked five rodeos during the Cowboy Christmas span last year and cashed at three to collect a whopping $19,172.
He would go on to capture his sixth Canadian High Point Award, second Canadian steer wrestling title and finish second in the world standings with a $166,775 year.
Throw in the $45,558 he gathered at the CFR and his total 2010 income came to $212,333.
This marked the third time in six years that Cassidy has won the Ponoka bulldogging, tying him with Tom Barr, who captured it three times in five years in the early 1990s. Barr was again on the rodeo’s judging team this year.
“I was flipping through the Ponoka program during the Calcutta just before the bonus round and I noticed Tom had won it three times,” Cassidy said. “It’s pretty cool to be in those statistics.
“But, I’ve been having a very slow season this year with maybe a little bit of luck up here this spring. Then winning Ponoka and Williams Lake by making some good runs gave me some confidence back.
“I won’t be in the top five in the world, but at least I’ll be in the top 10 and it will help my cause a lot towards getting back to Las Vegas.”
Cassidy had a choice between riding the unretired Willy or Deuce at Ponoka and chose Deuce.
“I won it the first time in 2006 on Willy and last year on Deuce,” he explained. “Both were standing there (behind the chutes at Ponoka prior to his preliminary-round runs) and I decided to stick with Deuce. I trust him and have a lot of confidence in him.
“He doesn’t have the statistics that Willy has and probably never will. But, he’s such a good horse in this situation with the 90-foot box and long, running start. He stands in the box perfect, while most horses here get all revved up and are hard to control; he knows that’s part of his job.”
Curtis and younger brother Cody have won Ponoka five of the last six years and, although they live about 100 clicks to the south and east, they call it their hometown rodeo.
“All the family comes here, from gramps to his great grandchildren and there were a bunch of them running around here today,” Curtis chuckled. “It’s an awesome feeling to do well in front of the hometown crowd.”
Texan Clint Cannon was the leading money winner in the bareback riding. The Texan pulled $14,998 out of Ponoka.
Oregon’s Jason Havens collected $13,016 out of Ponoka and Airdrie and Dusty LaValley placed at all three rodeos for $11,583, moving him into the lead in the Canadian standings with $16,482.
New Mexico’s 2007 world champion saddle bronc rider Taos Muncy topped his event at Ponoka for $16,162 and also won rodeos at Prescott, Ariz., and Springdale, Ark., that may have pushed him into the lead in the world standings with more than $68,000.
South Dakota’s 2006 world champion Chad Ferley collected $12,868 out of Ponoka and Airdrie.
Kyle Thomson ($5,838) and Todd Herzog ($4,145) were the leading Canadian money winners.
Denton Edge, working only his eighth rodeo of the season, was the last and only man standing in the bull riding bonus round at Ponoka after covering the Northcott family buckskin bull Challenger for 86 points and $13,626, more than doubling his earnings from his first six rodeos.
He soared to the lead in the Canadian standings with $23,046.
Alberta’s 2008 world champion Lindsay Sears captured the Ponoka barrel racing crown for the second time in three years to earn $12,961. But, Idaho’s Susan Smith was the leading money winner over the week, placing deep at Ponoka and getting a cheque out of Airdrie for a total of $15,529.
Colorado’s Sammi Bessert ($10,947) and Traci McDonald, the former Wrangler National Finals Rodeo qualifier from Erskine ($10,882), also had strong July holiday week runs north of the border.
Sears, who returned to her Alberta haunts last month, also picked up $4,172 at the Greeley rodeo in Colorado and collected a total of $25,848 over a two-week span.
The tie-down roping at Ponoka, Airdrie and Williams Lake was virtually a slam dunk for the Americans with 14-time world champion Trevor Brazile leading the way.
He won both Ponoka and Airdrie for a total of $15,060. Fellow Texan Timber Moore placed at all three rodeos in putting together a $13,441 run.
Oklahoman Trent Creager gathered up $8,523 and Louisiana’s Shane Hanchey added $6,524 to his bank account.
Brazile didn’t just dominate the tie-down, he and partner Patrick Smith, the reigning world team roping champions, gathered up $8,043 apiece at Ponoka, where a one-leg catch on their last steer, cost them the title. But, they won Airdrie outright with the week’s fastest time, a 3.8 second run.
Levi Simpson, from Claresholm, and his Montana heeler John Robertson, first thrown together at the 2009 Canadian Finals Rodeo and reunited this year, were the best of the rest with $5,303 in earnings.
Visit rodeocanada.com for rodeo results and standings.