If it wasn’t clear before, it should be clear after Monday’s Cowboy Up Challenge final that Jim Anderson has this Extreme Cowboy Racing thing figured out.
The Strathmore horse trainer has competed three times in the Stampede’s Cowboy Up Challenge sponsored by the Extreme Cowboy Association. In his debut in 2011, he was Reserve Champion. Last year, he won. This year, domination might not be too strong a word. Anderson topped the field in all three nights of competition – and not by small margins.
“My mare was really good,” Anderson explained. “She was consistent all week long. On Day One I wanted to come out and make an impression on the judges so they knew I was here. I had a really nice run and won. The second go, I put a little more speed at it. She slipped on me once and she went on great. Today, she was just spot on. The course was a fun course – real fast, but a fun course. Day by day these courses got tougher and tougher, so the horses just have to keep that confidence and trust in you.”
Stampede organizers laid out an obstacle course in the Big Top that challenged each horse and rider combination. Right at the start, the rider had to stand on the saddle to grab a rolled-up T-shirt off a rack and then throw it into the crowd as he rode past. What followed was a bewildering series of tests of the rider’s control over the horse and the ability of both horse and rider to perform tasks requiring precision and finesse at as high a speed as they could manage.
“I like the tougher obstacles,” Anderson said. “My mare’s got a lot of confidence in me, so the tougher they are, the better they are for me.” A very narrow bridge in the first two go-rounds, he noted, was ‘the eliminator’ for some of his competitors but one that his mare, Picasmokenlittlelena, handled well.
“This was the deepest field of riders they’ve ever had in Calgary,” Anderson pointed out. “Three-quarters of them were world champions. They’re all great riders. You don’t walk away with anything here.” According to Peter Fraser, chair of the Stampede Western Performance Horse committee, of the six Americans and five Canadians competing in the Cowboy Up Challenge, six had world championship buckles, three had won at the Stampede and two were the most honoured riders in the sport.
Cam Schryver of Ojai, CA, was Reserve Champion, finishing the final 9.345 points in arrears of Anderson’s winning score of 124.840. The magnitude of Anderson’s victory can be seen in the fact that the points spread from Schryver in second down to fifth-place Tracy Pinson of Bushnell, FL was only 7.96 points. Schryver also was runnerup in the first go-round with Runt Rageth of Harris, MO third. Rageth was runnerup in the second go and finished third in the final. Lee Hart of Topeka, KS was fourth in the final and Glenn Stewart of Baldonnel, BC took third in the second go and was sixth in the final.
“It’s hard to get on top and it’s even harder to stay on top,” Anderson said. “It’s really nice because it’s my hometown here in Calgary and they put on an awesome show. My hat’s off to everybody who made this happen.”