2022 Pro Rodeo Canada Champions Crowned

Zeke Thurston aboard OLS Tubs Get Smart. CBowman photo.

For the second time in less than 48 hours a new CFR record was established in the saddle bronc riding. But this time, the record setting performance took the rider, Zeke Thurston, to his third Canadian Championship. It was fitting that the Big Valley, Alberta cowboy matched up with an old friend to establish the new mark. That old friend was OLS Tubs Get Smart who was making his final appearance in Canada prior to his well-earned retirement following the National Finals Rodeo next month. The 93.25 score bettered the previous mark of 91.75 set Friday night by both Thurston and Kole Ashbacher (on Get Smart).

“That was pretty special for me,” the 28-year-old superstar stated. “That little horse has pretty well made my career. I don’t know how much money I’ve made on him but it’s a lot. I was getting half emotional when I was saddling him. He’s been amazing forever.”

Thurston, who came into the Finals in fifth place, amassed just shy of $50,000 for a total of $80,000 for the year. The two-time World Champion was almost unstoppable in Red Deer with three go-round wins, a second, a fourth and the aggregate win as well over six performances.

The second-generation bronc rider acknowledged the importance of family in his pursuit of the rodeo dream. “I don’t actually remember wanting to be a rodeo cowboy, I just always was one,” Thurston smiled. “I watch my little boy; he’s a year-and-a-half-old, and all he wants to do is buck and ride things and I was probably the same way. I have a great family supporting me and that’s been really important.”

Another three-time Champion was crowned at this CFR as Provost, Alberta’s Scott Guenthner earned his third steer wrestling title in five years. Guenthner, who was named Cowboy of the Year earlier in the week, placed in four rounds and was second in the aggregate to earn $24,000 at the CFR to add to his regular season earnings of $50,000. The aggregate winner was two-time Canadian Champion Tanner Milan who finished third overall – right behind Stephen Culling.

A popular win at this CFR was Ty Taypotat’s first ever bareback riding title after several near misses in recent years. Taypotat, runner up for the title one year ago, turned in a spectacular 90.25 point performance on the Calgary Stampede’s World Champion bareback horse Xplosive Skies in Sunday’s final round.

“I saw the draw last night about midnight and I’m not gonna lie; I got pretty nervous,” Taypotat admitted. “That horse got me the last time I got on her.” The Nanton, Alberta cowboy (originally from Saskatchewan) enjoyed a consistent week with two firsts, two seconds and a third, along with the $14,000 aggregate win to total $50,000 in CFR earnings and $89,757 for the year.

“I’ve been doing this a long time,” Taypotat added. “This is my 10thCanadian Finals, so “I’m pretty darn excited to walk away with it, especially riding against the best bareback riders in the world.”

It came down to the final performance in the ladies barrel racing and it was five time CFR qualifier Taylor Manning who claimed the title. The 18-year-old, from Edson, Alberta, maintained the composure and consistency she demonstrated all week on the final day, with another solid run – made even more amazing by the fact that her horse, Bringin The Bling is only five-years-old.

“This morning I rode and worked on a few things with Bling but when I ran, I just tried to keep the barrels up,” Manning said. “I’m really proud of my horse,” she added, “She’s only five and I was able to run her all five days.”

Manning placed in five of six rounds (with a first go round and aggregate title win) to pocket over $40,000 at the Finals. Canadian and World Rookie of the Year, and Canadian Season Leader Bayleigh Choate – who came into CFR $18,000 ahead of Manning – finished in second spot.

It was the brother combination of Dawson and Dillon Graham who prevailed in the team roping event for their first Canadian Championship. The Wainwright, Alberta cowboys had twice previously been season leaders – only to come up short at the CFR. This time around they started the week with two second place efforts and a round-win before cooling off. They were, nevertheless, able to hold off the hard-charging veteran duo of Clint Buhler and Brett McCarroll who finished $8,000 back.

The closest race of this CFR was in the bull riding where Maple Creek, Saskatchewan cowboy, Jared Parsonage, prevailed for his second consecutive Canadian title. It was anything but easy for Parsonage as Camrose, AB bull rider and rookie CFR competitor, Coy Robbins, mounted a valiant challenge for the crown by riding five of six bulls and winning the aggregate. Parsonage earned over $22,000 at the Finals for a year-end total of $81,900. The margin of victory was a slender $1,300.

The only non-Canadian winner at this year’s CFR was San Angelo, Texas tie-down roper, Ty Harris. Competing at his second Finals, Harris overcame a no-time in the second round, putting together a first, a second, two thirds and a fourth en route to the victory. Harris collected $33,000 in Red Deer for $60,500 total earnings – a $9,000 advantage over runner-up, Kyle Lucas. The 2021 Champion, Riley Warren, was this year’s Aggregate winner.

Ladies breakaway roping, in only its second year as part of the Canadian Finals, saw 12 women competing, with Wardlow, Alberta’s Kendal Pierson, emerging as the winner for the second time. A former National High School Champion, Pierson had to come from behind after relinquishing her season lead in the first of three rounds. She fought back with a pair of 2.0 second runs, and when Longview, AB cowgirl, Bradi Whiteside missed her final calf, the deal was sealed for the eighteen-year-old Pierson.

Granum, Alberta roper, Wyatt Hayes, earned the men’s All Around title while Kylie Whiteside won the first-ever women’s All Around award. Blake Link (Maple Creek, SK) won the novice bareback championship while Innisfail, Alberta’s Colten Powell, earned the novice saddle bronc win. Nash Loewen, the 14-year-old from Winfield, Alberta won the junior steer riding event.                                                                                                                 

A couple of repeat winners from the Macza Pro Rodeo highlighted this year’s CFR Top Stock awards — OLS Tubs Stevie Knicks in the bareback riding and, of course, OLS Tubs Get Smart in the bronc riding. Duane Kesler’s Chester was selected top bull of the Finals.

For complete results, go to rodeocanada.com

Races Tighten Heading Into Final Day of CFR ‘48

Bradi Whiteside earned the matinee round win and second spot Saturday night in the Breakaway Roping. CBowman photo.

It’s called Super Saturday – two performances and a huge opportunity for rodeo athletes to win big at the Canadian Finals Rodeo.

2019 Canadian Champion bareback rider, Orin Larsen, has a history of doing just that and he was at it again this time around. The Inglis, Manitoba-raised cowboy has either won or split the round in almost every Saturday matinee performance he’s performed at in six CFR qualifications. But this year was even sweeter as the 2019 Canadian Champion won both rounds November 5 in Red Deer. Larsen marked an outstanding 87 points on Calgary Stampede’s B-12 BigTimin Houston in round 4 then added an even more impressive 87.75 in round five on Big Stone Rodeo’s 48 Fired Up. When the dust settled, the CFR-NFR cowboy, who has placed in every round to date, pocketed $18,670 and moved to third in the aggregate. The lead remains in the hands of veteran Ty Taypotat, who is closely followed by Montana hand, Caleb Bennett with Larsen lurking in the shadows should either make even a small slip in Sunday afternoon’s final round.

Orin Larsen.
CBowman photo.

The bull dogging has been no less dramatic, with two-time Canadian Champion and Season Leader, Scott Guenthner not enjoying the Finals he had hoped for. The Provost, Alberta talent has three round placings to his credit and sits second in the aggregate. Fort St John, BC’s Stephen Culling earned the fifth go-round win with a lightning-fast 3.7 second run to bring his Finals earnings to $17,474 with one performance to go. But Cochrane cowboy Tanner Milan has become the man to watch. The two-time Canadian Champion has won two rounds and placed in the other three for almost $23,000 in CFR earnings and first place in the all-important aggregate. He trails Guenthner by $10,000 and needs to have a huge Sunday performance and Guenthner to stumble to allow Milan to complete the come-from-behind win.

Slow and steady may win the race when it comes to the ladies barrel racing event. Yellowhead County, Alberta barrel racer Taylor Manning has been the model of consistency at this year’s Finals. The five-time CFR qualifier holds down the lead with one go-round win and four placings – including two second-place finishes on Saturday. Added to the 18-year old’s outstanding performance is the number one beside her name in the aggregate standings. 2022 Season Leader and Rookie of the Year, Bayleigh Choate has slipped to second overall and fifth in the average – despite a hair-straight-back matinee run that saw the Texan clock a 13.92 while reaching down and righting first barrel along the way. Unfortunately for Choate her luck ran out Saturday night as this time the barrel went down, opening the door for Manning. Also on the watch list heading into the final performance is Shelby Spielman and her Horse of the Year, Hot Donna, who is just $2,800 back of Manning and is third in the aggregate.

Another event that will come down to the wire on Championship Sunday is the tie-down roping. Texas cowboy, Ty Harris, who is making his second CFR appearance, had his best performance of the week in round five with an impressive 7.8 second run. The three-time NFR qualifier is second overall – just $1,800 behind CFR Rookie Beau Cooper. But Harris is fourth in the aggregate while Cooper has slipped to eighth. Also in contention are Carstairs, AB cowboy Kyle Lucas, Saskatchewan hand, Jesse Popescul and Season Leader Clayton Smith.

In only the second year as an official CPRA event, breakaway roping has taken women’s rodeo by storm. With twelve women vying for the title, the closest race is between Longview, Alberta’s Bradi Whiteside who earned the matinee round win and second spot Saturday night and defending Champion, Kendal Pierson from Wardlow, Alberta. Whiteside is in the driver’s seat heading into round six with $24,347 in winnings and first place in the aggregate. Pierson is within striking distance but needs a solid final day. 

Alberta team ropers, Clint Buhler and Brett McCarroll waited until CFR Saturday to move onto the leaderboard. The veterans scored two round-wins with 4.2 and 5.4 second times – good for $18,671 each and a move to first in the aggregate. McCarroll, a two-time champion, roped his 100thCFR steer on Saturday afternoon and 101stin the evening performance with both runs resulting in first place cheques. But season leaders, Dawson and Dillon Graham, remain in control as comfortable overall leaders heading into round six.

The classic event of rodeo – the saddle bronc riding – continues to see big scores and amazing rides. On a two-performance day that saw seventeen scores in the eighties, the most notable move was made by two time World and Canadian Champion Zeke Thurston from Big Valley, Alberta. After finishing out of the money on Saturday afternoon, the defending champion rode Calgary Stampede’s R-62 Redon Acres to a spectacular 88.75 score in the evening performance – good for first place money in the round. The win consolidated Thurston’s hold on top spot overall and the aggregate standings heading into Sunday. Not far behind the second-generation superstar are Layton Green and Kole Ashbacher.

When CFR ’48 kicked off back on Wednesday the consensus was that runaway season leader, Jared Parsonage, was a virtual lock for the bull riding title. But after four go-rounds, the race had become much tighter – courtesy of outstanding performances by Camrose bull rider Coy Robbins and 2016 Canadian Champion, Jordan Hansen. And when Robbins rode his bull Saturday night to be four for five and take over top spot in the aggregate, the noose was getting a little tighter on the reigning champion. But Parsonage made a critical ride on the Kesler bull, Perlich Brothers Ivy League to grab a third-place finish in the round. Heading into Sunday, the Maple Creek talent can breathe a little easier with a $17,000 lead over Robbins while sitting third in the lucrative aggregate.

A special moment during Saturday’s afternoon performance included the introduction of the 2022 Canadian Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame inductees. Congratulations Rob Bell, Bill Reeder and Dusty LaValley (contestant inductees); Mike Copeman (Builder inductee), the late Greg Rumohr in the Legend category and Animal inductee – VJV Slash, owned by Vold Rodeo.

Sunday’s final round will get underway at noon at the Peavey Mart Centrium in Red Deer.

For complete results, go to rodeocanada.com

New CFR Record in Saddle Bronc Riding

Kole Ashbacher, aboard the award-winning OLS Tubs Get Smart from Macza Rodeo.
CBowman photo.

You can put that in the record books as the greatest bronc riding there’s ever been and I’ve seen a bunch of them.

That observation was made by retired eight-time Canadian Champion, Rod Hay moments after the third go-round of the Canadian Finals Rodeo wrapped up in Red Deer Friday night, Nov. 4, 2022. The bronc riding he was referring to saw a pair of 91.75 point rides that (unofficially) eclipsed the 44-year-old CFR record of 91 points set by Mel Coleman in 1978.

Two-time World and Canadian Champion, Zeke Thurston, the pride of Big Valley, Alberta, was first to reach that milestone as he matched up with the Calgary Stampede’s amazing Tokyo Bubbles. And moments later the last bronc rider of the night, Arrowwood, Alberta cowboy, Kole Ashbacher, equalled that mark aboard the award-winning OLS Tubs Get Smart from Macza Rodeo.

“That horse and I… our careers started at about the same time,” Thurston acknowledged moments after his ride. “I’ve been in a lot of four rounds and short rounds with Tokyo Bubbles and that’s the first time I’ve actually drawn her. I was looking forward to that one. I’ve been waiting for her.”

Zeek Thurston and Tokoyo-Bubbles.
CBowman photo

Ashbacher who was runner up for the Canadian title a year ago was one of the last riders to get on Get Smart as the 20-year-old gelding will be retired after this year’s National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas. He’s the Canadian Horse of the Year and runner-up for the world title and he’s a little scary,” the long, tall 26-year-old admitted. “You get a little nervous when they run him under you (in the chute).”

Nervous or not, Ashbacher was flawless as he matched the much-decorated bay jump for jump. Ashbacher has gone to the lead in the bronc riding with Thurston in second place just $3,100 back but the roles are reversed in the all-important – and very lucrative – aggregate with Thurston clinging to a slender one-and-a-half-point lead over the his main adversary. Former Canadian Champion Layton Green collected a third-place cheque with an 89 score; Ben Anderson followed up his second go-round win with a fourth-place 88.5, and Dawson Dahm was 88.25 to catch a fifth-place cheque. Incredibly Rod Hay’s son, Logan, was out of the money despite an 87.75-point effort.

The large Centrium crowd erupted as the twin winning scores were announced. Fans will get another opportunity to see this pen of saddle bronc horses during Sunday’s final performance of CFR ’48.

The Wainwright, Alberta team roping brothers, Dawson and Dillon Graham, who dominated Canadian Pro Rodeo all season continue to shine at the 2022 CFR. The talented duo clocked a speedy 4.3 second run – the fastest of CFR so far in round three. When added to a pair of earlier second place finishes, the brothers have $23,220 in CFR earnings and continue to enjoy the overall lead and first place in the aggregate. 

In the ladies barrel racing, it was Texan turned Albertan Shelby Spielman and her Horse of the Year, Hot Donna, who took the honours in the third round. The Ponoka duo clocked 13.88 seconds to win the $9335 top cheque. Season leader, Bayleigh Choate continues to lead the overall standings at the halfway point in a Finals that has seen only two of the twelve competitors run penalty free over the first three performances. 

Australian Strawbs Jones marked his highest CFR score to date in the bareback riding – a spectacular 89.75 points on Canadian Bareback Horse of the Year, 118 OLS Tubs’Stevie Knicks from the Macza Rodeo firm, to win the round. Veterans Ty Taypotat (Nanton, AB) and Caleb Bennett (Covallis, MT) hold down first and second place overall and in the all-important aggregate. Bennett was second in the round with Taypotat right behind him in third place.

Cochrane cowboy Tanner Milan continues to be the model of consistency in the steer wrestling event. The two-time Canadian champion recorded his second go-round win Friday evening with a 3.9 second run. When added to his earlier placings, the veteran has over $20,000 in CFR earnings and has moved solidly into contention for a possible third title.

Granum, Alberta’s Wyatt Hayes earned the tie-down roping buckle in round three with an 8.0 second run. The win also catapulted Hayes to the lead in the All-Around race.

2016 Canadian Bull Riding Champion Jordan Hansen turned in a dazzling 89.75 point ride on Vold Rodeo’s 24 Out Of The Blue for the go-round win. With two out of three bulls covered, Hansen moves to first in the aggregate – just four-and-a-half points up on overall leader Jared Parsonage, who bucked off Friday night but still holds a commanding lead.

The 2022 novice champions were declared after three rounds of competition. Novice bareback season leader, Blake Link from Maple Creek, SK won his third straight round for a total of $10,532 in earnings and the title. In the novice saddle bronc event, despite having a challenging CFR, season leader, Colten Powell maintained his hold on top spot, finishing out the year with over $22,000 in winnings and the champion’s buckle. In the junior steer riding, Sundre cowboy, Glen Erickson marked a 76.50 for the top cheque on night three while Nash Loewen maintained his hold on number one overall.

For complete results, go torodeocanada.com

Big Moves in B.C.

Bull rider, Coy Robbins, enjoyed a productive and lucrative weekend as he captured the title at the first-ever Valley West Stampede in Langley, British Columbia riding Duane Kesler Championship Rodeo’s 675 Circus Freak for 88.5 points and $5,773.

With the 2022 Canadian Professional Rodeo season winding down, one of the most critical weekends of the fall took place entirely in the nation’s westernmost province. Sunny skies, big crowds and spectacular performances were the order of the day at Armstrong, Merritt and Langley, BC.

The SMS Equipment Pro Rodeo Tour wrapped up over Labour Day weekend with the final tour stop (IPE and Stampede) and Finals in Armstrong, BC. While most of the season leaders held on to claim the overall tour titles and the champions’ trophy spurs, there was come-from-behind drama in the bareback and bull riding events. 

Reigning Canadian Bareback Riding Champion Clint Laye put together an 89-point effort for second place ($2,713) in the regular Armstrong Pro Tour rodeo, then added an 88.25 ride on Calgary Stampede’s Bigtimin Houston to take top spot in the Finals for another $2,320. The twin successes vaulted the Cadogan, AB. cowboy from third place entering the weekend to the SMS Equipment Tour title and earned him the champion’s trophy spurs as he edged Ty Taypotat by just five points.

Bull rider Brock Radford was the only other competitor who overcame a deficit to win the SMS Equipment Tour title. The DeWinton, AB, hand was aided by his fourth-place result in the tour final en route to the overall championship.

Steer wrestling champion, Scott Guenthner.

Those able to protect the leads they enjoyed going into the Armstrong weekend included steer wrestling champion Scott Guenthner, tie-down roper Beau Cooper, bronc rider Lachlan Miller, barrel racer Bayleigh Choate, team ropers Tristin Woolsey and Trey Gallais and breakaway roper Lakota Bird. 

Guenthner, the two-time Canadian Steer Wrestling Champion and 2022 season leader, also put up a pair of wins, topping the field at Merritt with a 4.1 second performance for $1,999, then smoking a 3.1 second run in the SMS Equipment Pro Rodeo Tour finals for $2,320 to clinch his tour title.

Bull rider, Coy Robbins, enjoyed a productive and lucrative weekend as he captured the title at the first-ever Valley West Stampede in Langley, British Columbia riding Duane Kesler Championship Rodeo’s 675 Circus Freak for 88.5 points and $5,773. Robbins then added an 87-point win at the Nicola Valley Pro Rodeo (Merritt, BC,) on Macza Rodeo’s 803 Blue Bombshell for another $1,908. The Camrose, AB, athlete capped off the weekend with an 87.5, third place finish in the SMS Pro Tour Final for an additional $1,160. After a weekend that provided major moves in the Canadian standings, Robbins is a virtual lock for the CFR as his wins will move him past Jordan Hansen into third place.

The Graham brothers, Dillon and Dawson, continued their winning ways, running their steak to five in a row with wins at Merritt (4.3, $2,216) and Armstrong (5.0, $2,832). The Wainwright cowboys came up just short in their effort to capture the SMS Equipment Tour title as the duo of Trey Gallais and Tristin Woolsey prevailed for the SMS Equipment crown.

One of the biggest moves in the CFR race was that of barrel racer Jennifer Neudorf. Entering the weekend in a precarious 11th place in the standings, a win at Langley (15.42, $5,922) and a 6/7 spilt for another $998 at Armstrong will push the Grande Prairie cowgirl solidly into the top ten with just three weeks remaining in the regular season.

With every dollar won critical as the 2022 season winds down, CPRA competitors will now take their talents to the Coronation Pro Rodeo, September 9-10 and the Medicine Lodge Fall Roundup September 10.

For complete (unofficial) results, check out prorodeocanada.com

Cassidy Extends Season Lead

Photo by Shellie Scott Photography.

The beat, as they say, goes on.

Another weekend. Another success story for Curtis Cassidy. The man who has 12 Canadian titles and 21 CFR appearances in steer wrestling on his resume was at his best once again with a 3.9 second run at Hand Hills Lake Stampede for a $1,302 payday and added another $1.924 to his weekend haul with a 5.0 winning run at Bonnyville Pro Rodeo.

“The drawing Gods have been on my side so far,” the Donalda two-event cowboy chuckled. “I had the perfect draw at Hand Hills, just an excellent handling steer. He took a step away from me but Cody (Cassidy), Curtis’ brother and hazer, brought him back to me. Then at Bonnyville, I had one of the better ones in a herd of fresh, bigger steers. Matt Richardson was 5.3 on him and I made pretty much an identical run to Matt’s. The steer braced up just a little on me and kind of hung a bit or I could have been a short four.”

For the second-generation superstar, it’s been business as usual in 2022 and the weekend’s wins increased his lead at the top of the Canadian standings. Cassidy is happy with his fast start. “I’ve been on both ends of it and being first is a lot nicer than being way back in the standings at this point in the season for sure. You’d like to have the CFR made as early as possible.”

And, of course, there’s Tyson, the latest in the long line of brilliant Cassidy dogging horses, that includes recent Hall of Fame inductee, Willy.

“Tyson doesn’t have as many accolades as Willy with his four gold buckles but the thing with Tyson is he’s just so user-friendly,” Cassidy noted. “Anybody can get on him and have a chance to win. He does his job better than any of us do.”

Cassidy acknowledged that having a horse like Tyson is helping to extend what has already been a remarkable career. “In this sport every January 1 you start over. I’m still healthy, I’ve got Tyson and I’m traveling with some younger guys. With COVID behind us and a lot of the bigger summer rodeos back, I’m hoping to have a year that gets me back to the CFR and the NFR.”

It was a pair of team ropers who were the top money winners on the three-event weekend. Veteran Cardston heeler, Riley Wilson, and his heading partner, Grady Quam, collected wins at both Bonnyville (4.5 seconds, $1,874) and Hand Hills (5.6 seconds, $1,437) and added a fifth-place cheque at Leduc Black Gold Rodeo (4.9 seconds, $948) for a total of $4,260. The pair also made the biggest move in the early season standings, vaulting from 22nd to a spot solidly in the top ten.

This week the CPRA schedule makes three more Alberta stops in Brooks, June 10-11, and Rocky Mountain House and Lea Park, June 10-12.

For complete CPRA results, check out rodeocanada.com

102 Years of the Falkland Stampede

Kolby Wanchuk, 2022 Falkland Stampede.

Kolby Wanchuk hasn’t forgotten the way his 2021 Canadian rodeo season ended. The Sherwood Park, AB bronc rider was bumped from Canadian Finals Rodeo contention on the final stop of the regular campaign. This weekend at the 102nd Falkland Stampede, the second generation cowboy took another step toward ensuring that history would not repeat itself.

“I don’t want to miss the CFR again,” Wanchuk admitted. “I’ve been getting to the spring rodeos and I want to do whatever it takes to get back to the Finals. That’s one of my goals for this year. You can’t win a Canadian title if you’re not at the CFR.”

The 25-year-old rode Macza Pro Rodeo’s +2 Big Surprise to 86 points and the first place cheque of $1,226. The win will consolidate Wanchuk’s hold on fourth place in the Canadian standings and keep him solidly in the top 15 in the World.

“I’d seen this horse quite a bit, but this was my first time on him,” Wanchuk noted. “He’s not a big horse but he tries really hard. He had a couple of big jumps at the start and then was really nice.”

Things will start heating up for Wanchuk and all CPRA contestants as the 2022 rodeo season moves into high gear. “We’ll be going back and forth across the border pretty well every week. From Reno in June to the end of August, there are rodeos almost everyday. And I want to get to every one I can.” Wanchuk is especially looking forward to the CPRA (SMS Equipment) Pro Tour events. “I want to get to as many of the 11 Tour rodeos as I can because that money makes a big difference in the Canadian standings.”

Great weather and record crowds were on hand in Falkland, BC throughout a weekend that saw several other outstanding performances. A pair of 90 point rides highlighted the weekend action with reigning Canadian Bareback Champion, Clint Laye, navigating Macza’s award winning 118 OLS Tubs Stevie Knicks to first place and $1188 in the bareback riding. That effort was matched by 2016 Canadian Champion bull rider Jordan Hansen who posted his 90 point ride on Macza’s D 180 Big City Life – good for $1,398. Other Falkland champions included tie down roper, Clayton Smith who clocked an 8.5 second run for $1962; steer wrestler Quentin Branden who was 3.9 seconds ($1,426), team ropers Dawson and Dillon Graham whose 4.4 netted $1,512 for each. Ladies barrel racing saw a one-two split between Lynette Brodoway and Bradi Whiteside who were 16.38 seconds for $1,544 each. Breakaway roper, Kylie Whiteside posted a 2.44 to win her event and pocket $994. The novice saddle bronc event also saw a tie with Colton Powell and Devon Hay marking 69 points for $224 each while in the junior steer riding, Nash Loewen was 82 points for $329.

For complete CPRA results, check out rodeocanada.com

How the West was Worn

Blue jeans, automobiles, brightly-colored dishes and even dental bling all have one thing in common – they’ve all been influenced by western design. Discover how the history and craftsmanship of the West influenced goods and culture through the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum’s newest exhibition, Western Wares, that opened February 11, 2022. The museum is based in Oklahoma City, OK.
 
Western design is a term familiar to a global audience, drumming up images of pearl-snap shirts, rhinestones, and cowboy hats. Visitors will learn that western design has been crafted over time by different people and traditions. It is a continually evolving style that is both connected to the geography of the west, but also defined by each person who wears it. 


“Here at The Cowboy, we know that the history and legends of the West have influenced many aspects of American culture deeply,” said Natalie Shirley, Museum President and CEO. “This exhibition is a fun way to see the impact that cowboy and. western culture has had on the world of design.”
 
Western Wares will take museum visitors through the history behind the rise in popularity of the western aesthetic, from the 1890s, to its historic peak in the mid-twentieth century and then on to present day.


 Upon entering the exhibition space, museum visitors will first experience the early influences of design that stemmed from Indigenous, Hispanic and European cultures and were used on the range starting in the 1800s. The exhibition will then explore varied interpretations of western design by rodeo performers, musicians, vintage enthusiasts, and people looking to reclaim their cultural traditions. It will also feature a space that delves into the mechanical processes of making a look, including sewing, leather working, silversmithing and design. 
 
Much of the western fashion presented in the exhibition will come from the museum’s extensive collections. The exhibition will also feature many never-before seen photographs. Western Wares will be on exhibit through May 1, 2022.

(VIRTUAL) OUTLAWS FOR LIFE

“I can be a Moonshiner now..!”

It’s not a sentence I’m used to hearing from my daughter.

And never in a million years did I expect to be writing about a video game in Western Horse Review.

Yet, here we are.

If you’re in my demographic, you were first introduced to the world of video games on an original Nintendo – the gray box system that came with Mario Brothers and Duck Hunt. Whenever the chores were done, us kids leaped at the opportunity for a few minutes to play. Watching the pixelated, Italian characters (twin brothers Mario and Luigi,) dodge fireballs and break bricks with their heads for coins became a fond childhood pastime.

I’m here to tell you that video games have come a long ways since…

With a mature rating, I wasn’t sure what to think initially, about Red Dead Redemption II (RDR II). Created by Rockstar Games, RDR II comes from the home of Grand Theft Auto – which in all honesty, isn’t a game I allow my children to play. RDR II too, has a long list of warnings for violent content, strong language, etc., and suggests that it should only be played by gamers aged 17 and up.

Somehow, however, we were drawn to RDR II and I now realize why. This vivid game boasts insanely, beautiful graphics and oozes the wild west. Set at the dawn of the modern age in 1899 America, RDR II is at its core, about survival. The main character, Arthur Morgan finds himself at a crossroads after a robbery goes horribly wrong in the town of Blackwater. He’s forced to choose between his own ideals and the gang of outlaws who raised him.

Players experience this epic game as the tale of Morgan and the Van der Linde gang unfolds – the group must flee federal agents and bounty hunters that are closing in. Characters have to cross cruel and rugged territory, and survive wildlife and the elements. Of course, there are more underhanded tasks too, as the gang fights and robs their way through.

Players travel on horseback and this is where one truly begins to notice the extreme level of detail in the game. There are 19 different breeds of horses in RDR II and each one has different characteristics and handles differently. Characters must bond with their mounts and if not, some horses won’t hesitate to buck their riders off when faced with a threat. Then there are times when the horses get impatient and begin to stomp their feet if a player is taking too much time to decide on things.

Both situations are not that much different in real life.

The graphics in Red Dead Redemption II are stunning and the story line will make you think you’re in a movie.

There are many astounding features that come together to bring RDR II to life. (Did we mention that Willie Nelson lends his voice on the game soundtrack?) There are dogs to pet, mountains to cross, pockets to pick, mustangs to break, outlaws to kill and gold bricks to find. Meanwhile, you’ll marvel at the scenery and the wildlife and the cinematic shoot-outs.

Love ‘em or lump ‘em, video games are here to stay. The Red Dead series is all part of the modern west and I don’t mind it one bit that my kids are fascinated by a virtual world, inspired by a western adventure. It’s another way western heritage is being infused into the 21st century: a day and age where western culture is slowly disappearing. With all of its sagebrush, sunsets, drama and gorgeous scenery, Red Dead Redemption II is wildly satisfying. So, if you find yourself brushing a kid aside for a chance at the controller yourself – Hey, a mom’s got to do, what a mom’s got to do.

  • By Jenn Webster

Small Matters

Portrait of Charlotte Small. Artwork by Wandering Jayne Creatives.

On June 10, 1799, she became a child bride – married at the age of 13, to a man 16 years her senior. The girl was “…about five feet tall, active and wiry, with black eyes and skin almost copper-coloured”; the daughter of a Scottish investor-partner, named Patrick Small, and an unnamed mother.

She was Métis. Abandoned by her father at the age of six, her father left his family (two girls and a boy,) and returned to his roots in Europe. Her mother raised her children in relative obscurity. Here is Charlotte Small’s story.

By Debbie MacRae

During her lifetime, Charlotte Small would travel over 42,000 kms across some of the most perilous terrain in Canada. She and her husband, David Thompson, would unlock the mysteries of Canada’s unbelievable sweeping geography – and she would become one of the most significant female contributors to the development of Canada. Together, their cartographic accomplishment would become legend; the largest, most significant survey achievement in the history of mankind. Small’s contribution, until recent years, had been relatively unacknowledged.

Charlotte Small was born on September 1, 1785, to the “country wife” of a Scottish investor in the North West Company fur-trading partnership. Her siblings, Patrick Small, Jr., and Nancy Small, would also become part of the fur-trading business, with Patrick becoming a North West Company clerk, and Nancy, the first wife of North West Company partner, John MacDonald of Garth.

“Country wives” was a term coined when a marriage took place with little formality or documents, and the marriage was arranged in “the country” to enhance the standing or security of the wife, who might have mixed lineage. And also to enhance the trade advantage of the fur trader, as a result of an alliance with the woman’s Indigenous family, where she could assist by translating and trading on her husband’s behalf. Often the practical advantages of their alliance outweighed the opportunity for love, as men desired wives who could cook, clean, and sew for them. European wives were not well suited to the harsh elements and did not have the survival skills to compete with their “country” counterparts.

Small could speak French, English, Cree and multiple dialects. She could hunt and fish. Marrying a man employed by the North West Company would bring her stability and security, and perhaps status. The irony of their exchange would be that Small would bring her talents to the table, and on more than one occasion, it would be Small who would ensure they succeeded.

In June of 1799, Small agreed to marry Thompson, and they married in the Cree tradition at Ile-a-la Crosse, SK. Their marriage vows would be solemnized by clergy 13 years later at the Scotch Presbyterian Church in Montreal on October 30, 1812.

She would bear 13 children; seven boys and six girls. Small was 44-years-old when she gave birth to her youngest child, Eliza in 1829.

On their marriage day, Thompson made a notation in his journal – “Today wed Charlotte Small.” He would honour that commitment for 58 years; travelling over 42,000 kilometers with her and their children by his side, at a time when most European men retired and returned to their prestigious European lives, leaving their Canadian country wives and families behind – like Small’s own father. The marriage of David Thompson and Charlotte Small is the longest recorded marriage in pre-Confederation history.

Thompson was born in Westminster, Middlesex, and his father died when Thompson was two-years-old, leaving his mother in dire financial hardship. She was forced to place him in the care of the Grey Coat Hospital, a school for the disadvantaged of Westminster, where he then graduated to the mathematical school, renowned for its survey and navigational training. That training would prepare him for the prodigious survey work he would achieve in later life.

Thompson was indentured to the Hudson’s Bay Company, working as a clerk, and was dispatched to various regional inland locations, learning the language of the people as he went. After seriously fracturing his leg in a sledding accident near North Battleford, SK, it took two years for him to recover, during which he studied mathematics, survey and astronomy. At the end of his apprenticeship, he asked the company to pay him with a sextant and navigational equipment, instead of the traditional Hudson’s Bay coat. They provided him with both, and hence began his next career in surveying. He was 27 years of age.

Two years later, after their marriage, Small would assist with the literal “groundwork”.

“[W]ith black eyes and skin almost copper-coloured” – a description later rendered by her grandson, William Scott, Small moved easily among the First Nation’s people. Her coloring, language fluency and ability to decipher related dialects assisted in securing trust when travelling and trading.

Thompson wrote, in an 1874 manuscript, “….my lovely Wife is of the blood of these people, speaking their language, and well educated in the English language; which gives me a great advantage.” Although not much is known about their relationship, he wrote in a language of love and respect.

The expanse of Rupert’s Land was unknown; the rivers raging and perilous. Travel was arduous for fur traders, completed on foot, by canoe, and horseback, often in unfriendly territory. Seasons were harsh, and winters particularly cruel. The elements (fire, wind, and water), injured or took lives indiscriminately, and starvation was always a consideration. During the winter of 1805 and 1806, while wintering at Reed Lake House, the Thompson party was in much need of food. Small’s hunting experience would be their salvation, providing nourishment from the meat she secured snaring rabbits and shooting birds. Thompson journals Small as having snared eight rabbits between November 1805 and February 1806, hardly sufficient nourishment to sustain a whole party – yet the group survived.
The extent of her contribution is barely appreciated – yet significantly more commendable given that she had two small children, Fanny and Samuel, and was expecting their third child, Emma, in March of that year.

Small first explored the Rocky Mountains in May of 1807, when a trade route was opened over the Howse Pass, west of Rocky Mountain House, AB. Ascending and descending the crossing was dangerous and nearly fatal on several occasions.

“The water descending in innumerable Rills, soon swelled our Brook to a Rivulet, with a Current foaming white, the Horses with Difficulty crossed & recrossed at every 2 or 300 yards, & the Men crossed by clinging to the Tails & Manes of the Horses, & yet ran no small danger of being swept away & drowned.” Notes the David Thompson, Travels (unpublished manuscript): iii, 34a,ca. 1847; quotation courtesy of William Moreau as noted in the essay David Thompson’s Life of Learning among the Nahathaways by Jennifer Brown.

Although Thompson’s journal entries are limited with respect to his family life, it is imperative to appreciate that they travelled together. The journal entries, provide insight and glimpses of the challenges Small faced as a woman and mother, with three young children to nourish and protect. She faced the same cruel conditions as the men, yet except for a few notations, her challenges remained nondescript and unrecorded.

On one occasion, Thompson wrote, “One of my horses nearly crushing my children to death with his load being badly put on, which I mistook for being vicious, I shot him on the spot and rescued my little ones.”

A day later, he added, “…..at 3 P.M. we reloaded, but missing my little Daughter & nowhere finding her, we concluded she was drowned & all of us set about finding her – we searched all the Embarrass (log-jams) in the River but to no purpose. At length, Mr. McDonald found her track going upwards. We searched all about & at length thank God at 8 ½ P.M. found her about 1 Mile off, against a Bank of Snow.” (Sources of the River, Nesbit.)
Small was no doubt, frantically assisting in the search for her child lost in the wilderness of the Rocky Mountains. It was June of 1808, in the mountains, with high water, and snow still likely on the ground. The wildlife were recently out of hibernation and hungry, and the group were constantly under threat of attack by the Peigan people. She was seven months pregnant with their fourth child, John, at the time.

They would traverse the Blaeberry River through the Kootenai mountains and follow it to its junction with the Columbia. Because the Columbia flowed north at this junction, Thompson did not believe the river he viewed was the Columbia – and instead, headed upstream to Lake Windermere. Near the south end of the lake they built Kootenae House. Now they had another addition to the family, with four children under seven.

Between 1808 and May of 1812, the family would journey from Canal Flats, BC, into Montana and Idaho, back up to Fort Vermilion at the confluence of the North Saskatchewan and Vermilion rivers, and back down into Montana and Idaho on Lake Pend Oreille, where they established Kullyspell House and Salish House on the Clark Fork River. Because the Piikani (Peigan) people were blocking access to their southern passes, a different route had to be established to bypass their lands.

Ultimately, they would cross the mountains through the Athabasca Pass over a treacherous route along the Athabasca, Whirlpool and Wood Rivers, arriving at the forks of the Columbia and Canoe rivers on January 18,1811.
The men refused to go on, and they wintered at Boat Encampment. Small remained at the side of her husband with her four children, despite the harsh crossing. The survey of the Columbia River was completed in May of 1812.

A copy of the navigator’s sextant used by David Thompson.

The family returned to Fort William on the shores of Thunder Bay, on July 12, 1812. They had made the decision to leave the employ of the North West Company, and made their way eastward toward Montreal, surveying the North shore of Lake Superior as they went.

After their return to Terrabonne, north of Montreal, Small and Thompson formalized their marriage vows in the European tradition and baptized their five young children. Ironically, in 1813, after surviving some of the harshest conditions of their young lives, two of their young children, John (age five) and Emma (age seven) would die, as a result of round worms, a common parasite. Small ultimately did not adjust well to life in Quebec, choosing to reside in Montreal while her husband travelled. Another child, Henry, would be born in 1813, followed by seven more siblings between 1815 and 1829.

In the years following, Thompson would complete his greatest achievements; his map of the North-West Territory of the Province of Canada in 1814 – so accurate it was still being utilized by the Canadian government 100 years later; survey of the newly established Canadian/US borders from Lake of the Woods to the Eastern Townships of Quebec; and his atlas of the region from Hudson Bay to the Pacific Ocean.

They would lose two more children. Despite financial hardship, and ultimate ruin, Small would remain by his side, even after being forced to move in with their daughter and son-in-law.

When the North West Company and the Hudson Bay Company merged in 1821, Thompson’s work was treated with indifference – likely because he had left the employ of the HBC and was never truly forgiven for his transfer to the North West Company. His survey data was sent to Aaron-Arrowsmith of London, and was used without proper credit to the surveyor – leaving his family impoverished for lack of payment, as well as the bankruptcy of a company in which their life savings had been invested. The maps they had developed, and the atlas completed in their later years, was never returned nor paid for.

David Thompson died in 1857, at the age of 86. His “lovely wife”, Charlotte Small, followed him to the grave three months later, at the age of 70. They were buried side by side, in obscure, unmarked graves, until geologist J.B. Tyrrell resurrected Thompson’s notes, and published them as a narrative and part of the General Series of the Champlain Society in 1916. Tyrrell’s efforts, in partnership with the Canadian Historical Society, resulted in the placing of a tombstone to mark his grave. In 1917, David Thompson was recognized as a National Historic Person by the federal government. However, Small’s contribution went singularly unnoticed.

In the 28 years of his travel, Thompson had traveled over 88,500 kms and surveyed 4.92 million square kms of wilderness. Small and her children accompanied him on over 42,000 kms – three and a half times further than the expedition of Lewis and Clark. Many of Thompson’s maps would be used on the Lewis and Clark expedition in their exploration of the Louisiana Purchase and the Pacific Northwest between August 1803 and September 1806.

However, on July 1, 2014, Charlotte Small was eventually recognized in a special ceremony at Rocky Mountain House, AB, by the Honourable Leona Aglukkaq, Minister of the Environment and Minister responsible for Parks Canada. She was acknowledged as an, “Acclaimed wife, mother, explorer and Metis daughter of the fur trade” “…for her contributions to the fur trade and exploration of western Canada. Charlotte Small exemplifies the contributions of Aboriginal women to the building of Canada, and …, we celebrate her as a person of national historic significance.” Ironically, at the time of her death, women were not recognized as persons, an achievement that would not take place until October 29, 1929; 72 years after her death.
Theirs was a partnership which lasted through the most strenuous of tests. Her commitment and devotion to her husband and family, his work, and their purpose is immeasurable and unparalleled.

“Standing in the silence, Charlotte Small was an important figure, giving a voice to the many multi-skilled women who were unpaid and nameless in the male-dominated fur trade that was highly dependent upon Aboriginal and Metis women acting as guides, translators, confidantes and expert wilderness survivalists. Charlotte Small performed all these roles as a wife, mother and daughter. Her courage and achievements will withstand the test of time and serve as encouragement for the generations of Aboriginal women to come, and recognition of the many silent women of the fur trade,” (Pat McDonald, historian and author, Rocky Mountain House).