CFR and All Around Races Tighten

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Photo courtesy of Billie-Jean Duff

With only a half-dozen rodeos left on the Pro Rodeo Canada schedule, every cheque becomes increasingly important, no matter how many zeroes may be attached to it. Barrel racer, Rene Leclercq couldn’t agree more.

“It’s very important for me to be winning right now because I’m right on the bubble,” offered the 21- year-old, who is in her third year on the pro rodeo trail. “Getting to the CFR has been a life long dream since I was a little girl. If I got there, it would mean the world to me.”

Leclercq picked up $1,175 for a rodeo-winning time of 12.528-seconds at the Okotoks Pro Rodeo in Okotoks, AB, this past weekend. That will keep the Holden, AB, cowgirl in 13th spot in the unofficial Pro Rodeo Canada standings. But the gap between herself and Saskatchewan’s Kareen Warren, who holds down the 12th and final Canadian Finals Rodeo qualifying spot, has shrunk to $1,600.

“My mare, Flirt, worked really awesome for me,” began Leclercq. “She really likes those tiny little pens. I think she’d like the set-up in Edmonton. She’s a great indoor horse.”

“I also started to run my other horse (7-year-old, Flit) for the first time. She was a little new to the game at the start but now she’s working really good for me, too. So it’s nice that I have the two of them.”

Among the other winners in Okotoks was bullrider, Ty Pozzobon, who not only grabbed a first place cheque worth $1,474, but also posted the high marked bull ride of the 2015 Pro Rodeo Canada season.

“That bull was named Bull of the CFR last year,” said Pozzobon of his draw, Proper Ripped from Vold Rodeo. “The quicker you get out of the chute, the better he’ll buck. He was alright so I just nodded and the end result was 92 points.”

The win boosts Pozzobon’s unofficial Pro Rodeo Canada earnings to $24,448, an impressive total given the Okotoks’ stop was just the Merritt, BC, cowboy’s 19th rodeo of the season.

“I had a bad head injury from the PBR Canada finals in Saskatoon last November,” revealed Pozzobon. “I won my first rodeo in Camrose in April and then I got hurt again and didn’t come back again until after the Grande Prairie weekend at the end of May.”

“I’ve had to go to neurologists and everything because I’ve had about 10 concussions since 2012 so they wanted to make sure everything was ok. The doctor made it seem like maybe I should find a new hobby. But bullriding is all I’ve ever known. We did come to the conclusion that I can’t take too many more hits like that.”

A small cheque for $357 for a 7th place, 9.8-second run in the tie-down roping in Okotoks may turn out to be the most important of the season for Ky Marshall. It’s Marshall’s 3rd roping cheque of the season and throws him into the Pro Rodeo Canada All-Around race. The reigning Canadian All- Around champ, who has already solidified a spot at the Canadian Finals Rodeo in Edmonton in November in the bareback riding, now joins Josh Harden as the only competitors in the running for the coveted award.

Other Okotoks’ champions included team ropers, Logan and Keely Bonnett (4.4-seconds, $1,295 each); tie-down roper, Kyle Lucas (7.7-seconds, $1,643); saddle bronc rider, Jim Berry (86.5-points on Vold Rodeo’s Pedro, $1,643); steer wrestlers, Tyler Willick and Layne Delemont (tie, 3.5-seconds, $1,435 each) and bareback riders, Dusty LaValley and Jake Vold (tie, 83-points on Vold Rodeo’s Mucho Dinero and Wildwood Flower respectively, $1,276 each).

Next up on the Pro Rodeo Canada schedule is the final Wrangler Canadian Pro Rodeo Tour stop at the IPE & Stampede in Armstrong, BC (Sept. 2-6) and the Nicola Valley Pro Rodeo in Merritt, BC (Sept. 5-6).

Reaching for the Top

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If Dayton Roworth finishes off the 2015 Pro Rodeo Canada season the way he began the campaign, he may find himself riding in a new season leader saddle next year. The 25-year-old had collected over $9,000 in earnings by mid-June while flirting with the number one spot in the Canadian steer wrestling standings.

“I got on a roll earlier in the year,” suggested Roworth, who first bought his pro card in 2010. “I figured some things out in the practice pen. And I’m getting more comfortable now. I know how to use my head a little more than when I started.”

With a win this past weekend at the Whoop-Up Days Pro Rodeo in Lethbridge, AB, Roworth has now passed the twenty thousand dollar mark in earnings. And the $2,351 won from the southern Alberta stop will leave him less than $2,400 out of the top spot in the updated Pro Rodeo Canada unofficial standings.

“There’s still a chance,” confirmed the 2009 Lakeland Rodeo Association bulldogging champ. “I was hoping to make the CFR and have a seat by now but not with $20,000 won. It’s a bit surprising.”

The Czar, AB, cowboy claimed the Lethbridge title with a 3.6-second run last Thursday night while using his traveling partner’s horse.

“I had a good steer and rode Ty Miller’s horse,” explained Roworth. “Ty hazed for me. I got a good start and things worked out.”

“That’s the first cheque I’ve won on anything other than my horse, Fly. He was a little sore and I think I’ll give him another week off. I’ll ride Ty’s horse (Chico) again and see from there.”

Other Lethbridge champions included reigning Canadian bull riding champion, Dakota Buttar. The Saskatchewan cowboy was 86.5 points on Kesler Rodeo’s 2012 Canadian Bull of the Year, Whiskey Jack, to take home $1,953, enough to boost his season earnings to nearly $35,000.

“I started an exercise plan last year and I’m continuing it this year,” began Buttar in describing his continued success on the Pro Rodeo Canada trail. “I think it really helps.”

Buttar’s Lethbridge win came on the heels of the previous weekend’s double successes. The accounting student topped the field at Jasper’s Pro Rodeo with an 86-point ride on Northcott’s Cool Pop, good for $1,504.75, then added a second place $777.55 cheque at Cranbrook Pro Rodeo with an 82-point performance.

The only other current leader in the Canadian standings to win a Lethbridge title was Louisiana’s Cody DeMoss. He was 83 points on Kesler Rodeo’s Paper Clip to win the saddle bronc event and $2,098.

Other Whoop-Up Days champions included bareback rider Ty Taypotat (81 points on Kesler Rodeo’s Cool Boots, $1,953); barrel racer Katie Garthwaite (15.635 seconds, $2,012); tie-down roper Scot Meeks (7.7 seconds, $1,988); team ropers Dale Skocdopole and Rocky Ross (5.0 seconds, $1,459 each); novice saddle bronc rider Keenan Reinhardt (78 points, $303); novice bareback rider Dustin Shaver (67 points, $241) and steer rider Owen Berreth (77 points, $553).

Next up on the Pro Rodeo Canada schedule is the Okotoks Pro Rodeo in Okotoks, AB (Aug. 28-30).

Morgan Grant – Hot in Stretch Drive

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Photo courtesy of Mike Copeman

Photo courtesy of Mike Copeman

Just five weeks ago, Morgan Grant was considering his Plan ‘B.’ Now, with just eight rodeos left on the Pro Rodeo Canada schedule, his plans for qualifying for the Canadian Finals Rodeo have taken a decidedly different direction.

“I’m now in the fight in both event to make the CFR,” concluded Grant, who has won $11,499 in both the steer wrestling and tie-down roping since July 17. “This is where your metal is tested.”

The 26-year-old Ontario native continued his hot streak this past weekend with a win in the bulldogging at the Jasper Heritage Rodeo in Jasper, AB, and a second-place finish at the Cranbrook Pro Rodeo in Cranbrook, B.C. His cheques equaled $3,041.

“I got an awesome start and Tanner (Milan) gave me a great haze,” began Grant in describing his 3.7-second run in Jasper last Wednesday night, “In Cranbrook, I knew I had to give my steer a big chance. I saw about six inches then knocked the barrier out and Baillie (Milan) gave me a great haze and the steer was really good on the ground.”

That 4.0-second run on Saturday earned the 2013 Pro Rodeo Canada High Point champion $1,319, enough to boost his 2015 steer wrestling earnings to $11,650 and put the four-time CFR qualifier unofficially in 12th spot in the new Pro Rodeo Canada bulldogging standings.

“That’s the beauty of doing the two events,” contended Grant, who won $2,246 in the roping the weekend before at the Dawson Creek, B.C., Stampede. “You always seem to do well in one of them.”

“I should also have enough won now in the steer wrestling to make the Pro Rodeo Canada Series Final (Oct. 2-3 in Calgary) but I need to win some more in the tie-down roping. You’re hoping to have the CFR made by then, but it’s a good plan ‘B.’”

Drayton Valley, AB, permit holder Joe Guze is also making a dramatic climb up the steer wrestling standings. The 2014 Wildrose Rodeo Association champion won $2,268 over the weekend with a 4.2-second run in Cranbrook to split third and a 4.1-second trip at the Pincher Creek Pro Rodeo in Pincher Creek, AB, to win third. Guze’s won $4,556 in the past two weeks.

Reigning Pro Rodeo Canada All-Around champion Ky Marshall took a big step towards qualifying for a shot at a second straight title. Marshall won his second tie-down roping cheque with an 8.4-second run in Jasper. Marshall, who’s won $18,060 in the bareback riding so far this season, hasn’t placed in the roping since April in Dawson Creek and now needs one more cheque to join Josh Harden of Big Valley, AB, in the all-around race.

Other notable money winners from the weekend included tie-down ropers Matt Shiozawa ($2,418) and Lee Rombough ($1,622); team ropers Rocky Dallyn and Kyle Smith ($1,464 each); bullriders Dakota Buttar ($2,283) and Jared Parsonage ($2,131); saddle bronc riders Wade Sundell ($2,954) and Sam Kelts ($1,969); barrel racers Nancy Csabay ($1,997) and Gaylene Buff ($1,510); bareback rider Cole Goodine ($1,348) and novice saddle bronc rider Keenan Reinhardt ($698).

Next up on the Pro Rodeo Canada schedule is Lethbridge Whoop Up Days in Lethbridge, AB (Aug. 20-22).

Vold Rolling Again

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Photo courtesy of Jeremy Wombald, JKW Photo.

 

If you’re Canadian bareback champion Jake Vold, how do you top last season? Well, how about by winning more already this season than you did during the entire 2014 season leading up to the Canadian Finals Rodeo.

“I was so lucky last year and drew so good everywhere pretty much all year,” recalled Vold of his championship season. “I had a slower start this spring and I knew better than to even be thinking that I could do the same thing. But I went home and got some things worked out and it started to come around.”

The 28-year-old’s unofficial 2015 Pro Rodeo Canada earnings now sit at $40,371 after a $3,329 weekend, which included a first-place cheque from the Field of Dreams Stampede in LaCrete, AB, for an 86-point ride on Outlaw Buckers’ Hair Trigger and a second-place finish at the Wrangler Canadian Professional Rodeo Tour stop in Dawson Creek, B.C.

“Rodeo’s a roller coaster ride,” offered the 2007 Canadian novice bareback champion, who had only won just over $4,200 by mid-June. “Last year was the dream year that I had been waiting for and it finally came. And I wanted to repeat it so it was getting hard to keep a positive outlook.”

But, in fact, it’s been the Airdrie, AB, cowboy’s ability to stay positive that has helped him win over $36,000 since June 14.

“I’ve got my eyes on the prize again,” concluded Vold, who is not only number one in the Pro Rodeo Canada bareback standings but sits just outside the top 15 in the world standings. “I’m just hoping to finish strong. We’ll just have to see how things go from now to the end of the year.”

South Dakota saddle bronc rider Troy Crowser knows all too well about the rodeo roller coaster. The 27-year-old missed qualifying for last year’s Wrangler National Finals Rodeo by a mere $152. This season, he’s currently on the outside looking in when it comes to a CFR berth.

“I’m sitting just out of it,” declared Crowser when analyzing his position in the Pro Rodeo Canada bronc riding standings. “I really needed this and I need a few more, too.”

Crowser topped the bronc riding at the Dawson Creek Stampede with an 87.5-point ride on Kesler Championship Rodeo’s big bay stallion, Spanish Pair, to win $2,617. That, coupled with a win in late July in High Prairie, AB, has boosted Crowser’s earnings over the $10,000 mark.

Other top money winners this past week included steer wrestlers Cody Cassidy ($2,563), Lochlan O’Neill ($2,497), Stephen Culling ($2,496) and JD Hays ($2,235); barrel racer Nicole Pana ($2,453); bareback riders Dusty LaValley ($2,414) and Kevin Langevin ($1,877); bull rider Dakota Buttar ($2,346); tie-down roper Dean Edge ($1,596); team ropers Kolton Schmidt and Dustin Searcy ($1,757 each); all-around competitor Josh Harden ($1,800 SB, $176 SW); novice bareback rider Wyatt Gleason ($1,513) and novice saddle bronc rider Ricky Warren ($1,575).

Next up on the Pro Rodeo Canada schedule are the Jasper Heritage Rodeo in Jasper, AB (Aug. 12-15), the Cranbrook Pro Rodeo in Cranbrook, B.C. (Aug. 14-16) and the Pincher Creek Pro Rodeo in Pincher Creek, AB (Aug. 14-16).

Meet Mr. August

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“(Hall of Fame writer) Dwayne Erickson gave me that name,” recalled Erik Dublanko shortly after capturing the Strathmore Stampede tie-down roping championship on Monday afternoon. “In one of the last articles he wrote before he passed away, he related me to Reggie Jackson. Those are pretty big shoes to fill.”

But Dublanko is doing his best to live up to the moniker, coined from Jackson’s “Mr. October” nickname given to the New York Yankee’s baseball star for his prowess to deliver big hits during his many World Series appearances. In fact, since 20111, when he first qualified for the Canadian Finals Rodeo, the Thorsby, AB, roper has won close to $19,000 during the month of August.

“I only need to win another four or five thousand (to make the CFR) and I have six weeks to do it,” calculated the 27-year-old, who jumped from 49th to near the top 20 of the unofficial Pro Rodeo Canada standing with the win in Strathmore, AB. “It’s a good time to get hot. I think it’s easier to come from behind than hold guys off. It’s better to be on the offence than defence.”

Dublanko won the first round in Strathmore with an 8-second run and tied his calf in 9.2 seconds in the final round to win the aggregate title with a two-head time of 17.2 seconds.

“When you come back with a lead, you know you don’t have to blast out (of the box),” offered the eight-year Pro Rodeo Canada veteran. “But it’s never easy. Sometimes when all you have to do is tie them down, that can be the hardest thing to do.”

A small 8th place cheque from the North Peace Stampede in Grimshaw, AB, helped push Dublanko’s long weekend earnings to $5,999, leaving the three-time CFR qualifier with just over eight thousand dollars in 2015 season earnings.

Just as you can bank on Dublanko winning in August, you can also bet on bareback rider, Caleb Bennett riding Wayne Vold’s True Grit for a big cheque.

“I’ve been on her probably six times and I’ve never been less than 85 points,” revealed the Utah cowboy who posted a 91.25-point score on the 2013 Pro Rodeo Canada Bareback Horse of the Year during the final round in Strathmore. “I’ve been 90 on her before so I knew I had an opportunity to take this home.”

“The first year she cracked out was my first year at the Calgary Stampede and I was 90 on her in the ten round. I helped boost her career and she helped boost mine.”

Bennett, who won $5,658 for his efforts, wasn’t the only rider in the 90s during the Strathmore shortgo. Manitoba’s Orin Larsen was 90.75-points on Vold’s other superstar, Mucho Dinero. He won $3,325.

The new partnership between 22-year-old header Clay Ullery and 35-year-old heeler Kevin Schreiner is paying early dividends. The pair won the Elks Pro Rodeo in High Prairie, AB, placed 2nd at the Mighty Fraser Rodeo in Abbotsford, B.C. and topped the aggregate standings in Strathmore.

“Three weeks ago we decided to hook up and we’ve been winning ever since,” offered Schreiner, who was mired in 29th spot in the Pro Rodeo Canada heeling standings before he and Ullery each won $6,041 this past week. “I really need this. It should put me in the top ten now.”

Other top money winners included bareback riders, Ky Marshall ($5,141), Jake Vold ($4,433) and Ty Taypotat ($3,778); steer wrestler, Travis Reay ($6,463); barrel racers, Taylor Jacob ($6,808); Kendra Edey ($5,526) and Deb Guelly ($3,914); saddle bronc rider, Cody DeMoss ($5,424); bullriders, Jordan Hansen ($6,304) and Beau Hill ($5,805); ropers, Steele DePaoli ($1,780 TDR, $2,064 TR) and Riley Warren ($3,950 TDR, $1,219 TR); All-Around contender, Josh Harden ($3,747 SB, $3,425 SW); novice bareback rider, Wyatt Maines ($1,835) and novice saddle bronc riders, Lane Cust ($1,784) and Keenan Reinhardt ($1,717).

Next up on the Pro Rodeo Canada schedule is the Field of Dreams Stampede in LaCrete, AB (Aug. 4-5) and the Dawson Creek Stampede in Dawson Creek, B.C. (Aug. 7-9).

 

 

Olds Welcomes the Return of Pro Rodeo

Story by Piper Whelan

Pro Rodeo Canada General Manager Dan Eddy shares his excitement for the inaugural Oldstoberfest at a press conference last week (photo: Olds College).

Pro Rodeo Canada General Manager Dan Eddy shares his excitement for the inaugural Oldstoberfest at a press conference in June (photo: Olds College).

Professional rodeo will return to Olds, Alberta, this fall, and it’s arriving with a cultural twist. The first Oldstoberfest, a celebration combining the tradition of rodeo with Bavarian culture, will be held Sept. 18-20 in Olds. The highlights of this event are a Pro Rodeo Canada-sanctioned rodeo at the Olds Regional Exhibition Grounds and a Bavarian-themed beer gardens in the Olds Cow Palace.

“Oldstoberfest is the first event of its kind, and unique to anywhere else in the world. Combining our western prairie heritage with German tradition gives an opportunity for incoming visitors to our community to celebrate our history in a new and innovative way,” said Gillian Shields, general manager for Oldstoberfest, at a press conference in June.

Gillian Shields, general manager for Oldstoberfest and a former Miss Rodeo Canada, introduces this new event to the people of Olds (photo: Olds College).

Gillian Shields, general manager for Oldstoberfest and a former Miss Rodeo Canada, introduces this new event to the people of Olds (photo: Olds College).

The event will feature rodeo performances on Friday and Saturday. The beer gardens will be fashioned after the German-inspired theme, and there will be two evening grandstand concerts after the rodeo. The weekend will also feature a variety of community activities, including an open house at Olds College to spotlight a number of their programs.

“The idea behind the Oldstoberfest rodeo is unique, innovative and a perfect example of what Pro Rodeo Canada is striving to accomplish moving forward,” said Dan Eddy, general manager of Pro Rodeo Canada. “The Oldstoberfest team is thinking outside the box in their efforts to change the face of Canadian rodeo, build on its excitement and bring it to new audiences.”

Oldstoberfest promised cowboys and cowgirls going Bavarian style for a fun and innovative weekend of rodeo (photo: Olds College).

Oldstoberfest promises cowboys and cowgirls going Bavarian style for a fun and innovative weekend of rodeo (photo: Olds College).

Olds formerly played host to a pro rodeo during the now-defunct Olds Fair & Rodeo. Last year, Olds hosted a small Octoberfest celebration at the Pomeroy Inn & Suites, one of the partners of this new event. With these two types of community events meeting to create a larger and more inventive celebration, it is hoped this will become an annual event.

The organizers are projecting 8,000-12,000 visitors for “the world’s first Bavarian rodeo,” and they are sure this creative spin on rodeo will become a must-see event. “We want to raise the standard of rodeo, increase community engagement and maximize economic impact for the Town of Olds and Mountain View County,” said Shields.

Correction: an earlier version of this story stated there was a rodeo performance on the Sunday night. The performances are actually on the Friday and Saturday of the event.

 

Marshall Tops Inaugural Hometown Event

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For the first time, Pro Rodeo Canada bareback riders were in the spotlight this past weekend. While there are a handful of bullriding-only events and the annual Wildwood Bronc Bustin’ for saddle bronc riders on the yearly schedule, bareback competitors have never before enjoyed a night for themselves until now. And the organizers of the event in Bowden, AB, last Saturday night couldn’t have written a better script.

“It was an amazing feeling when they crowned me champion,” offered Ky Marshall, who won the event in his hometown with an 87.5-point ride on C5 Rodeo’s Fabio in the final round. “There were lots of local people there that I knew. The crowd was pretty wild. It was a good, fun night.”

Marshall, who split the first round with four-time Canadian champion, Dusty LaValley with an 83point score, won $4,270 on the night. He also added another $1,143 from the Bonnyville Pro Rodeo in Bonnyville, AB, and the 102nd annual Bruce Stampede in Bruce, AB.

“I only had about sixty-four hundred won before this,” revealed the 23-year-old, reigning Canadian All-Around champion, “This could be a big turning point for me for the CFR.

“Once you get through the big rodeos like Ponoka, and you don’t have much won, you start scrambling and worrying. But there is still lots of money to be won. Some guys start slowing down now and there aren’t as many Americans coming up, so you can still win a lot.”

Cole Goodine is also hoping his two wins in Bonnyville and Bruce will be a turning point for him. The 25-year-old grabbed cheques worth $2,296 to push his unofficial Pro Rodeo Canada bareback season earnings to nearly 77-hundred dollars.

“Considering how this year’s been a struggle with consistency and injuries, it’s nice to be able to pick up a couple of wins,” said Goodine, shortly after his 81.5-point trip on Franklin Rodeo’s Twenty Three on Sunday afternoon in Bruce. “That was my third time on that horse. At the CFR last year, she threw me over the front, spun me around, pulled me underneath and stomped on me. That was in the back of my mind before I got on today.”

“I’m really fighting to move up in the standings. The cheques are starting to add up. I’m getting closer to the target.”

Tie-down roper, Riley Warren considered himself on the bubble for a CFR berth before winning $4,044 from the Medicine Hat Stampede in Medicine Hat, AB, and the Bruce Stampede.

“This should shoot me right up there in the standings now,” speculated Warren, who was 8.3seconds in Bruce to win the rodeo for the second time in four years. “Seems like you have some rodeos that you always do good at. This is a lucky place for me.”

There was also a pair of bullriding-only events to round out the Pro Rodeo Canada schedule. Ty Pozzobon on Merritt, BC won the Cochrane Classic Bull Riding in Cochrane, AB, as part of his $5,528 weekend while Tim Lipsett was the champion of the White Lightning Dodge Professional Cowboy Crunch in Oyen, AB, part of a $5,554 weekend payday for the Saskatchewan cowboy.

Other top money winners from the weekend included bareback riders, Logan Hodson ($4,084), Matt Lait ($3,986) and Dusty LaValley ($3,199); bullriders Tanner Girletz ($3,866), Jordan Hansen ($3,571) and Zane Lambert ($3,356); saddle bronc riders, Tyrel Larsen ($2,786) and Sam Kelts ($2,612); steer wrestlers, Rowdy Hays ($3,812) and Straws Milan ($2,800); barrel racers, Deb Guelly ($3,478) and Braidy Howes ($2,983); tie-down ropers, Clint Arave ($2,927) and Ryan Jarrett ($2,683) and team ropers, Levi Simpson/Jeremy Buhler ($2,692 each) and Brett/Justin McCarroll ($1,936 each).

Next up on the Pro Rodeo Canada schedule is the High Prairie Elks Pro Rodeo in High Prairie, AB (July 28-29), Bulls for Breakfast in Camrose, AB (July 30-Aug 2), Mighty Fraser Pro Rodeo in Abbotsford, BC (July 31-Aug 2), Strathmore Stampede in Strathmore, AB, the ninth stop on the Wrangler Canadian Professional Rodeo Tour (July 31-Aug 3) and the North Peace Stampede in Grimshaw, AB (Aug 1-2).

 

Gary Rempel – the Pick-Up Man

In the rodeo arena, this pickup man is known as a cowboy’s cowboy. Behind all the glitz of his career, Rempel has an instinctive understanding of livestock, backed by an extreme knack for showmanship. If you can handle the pressure of the rodeo arena, Rempel says the payoff to his job doesn’t necessarily fill his wallet, but most certainly has its other rewards. Here’s his thoughts on life on the road, success in small but sure doses and staying ahead of the game. 

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I was born and raised on the Matador Ranch, which was one of the largest government owned community pastures in Canada. My dad managed that, he also rodeoed, roped caves and picked up. I roped caves and team roped for awhile, but being a pickup man always appealed to me. Right now I just like doing what I am doing, and am trying to do the best that I can all the time.

In the pickup world, Wayne Vold was who I learned from. He was probably the best there was at the time. I worked with Wayne in Calgary for 10 years. I learned a lot from him, he was a master. His style was smooth – really smooth. When he did things he did them very efficiently and professionally. I just wanted to be in that style too.

When a horse bucks, a pickup man can help a rider in a pattern – we call that turning them back. We keep them in a pattern, so they buck better. Winston Bruce at the Calgary Stampede helped me a lot to understanding bucking horses.

For the past 20 some years we have been putting on a bronc riding school, and I put a pickup school in conjunction with it. We started out in Wood Mountain, Saskatchewan and just moved it to Millarville, Alberta, this last year. I turn guys away as a rule. I just keep it to a limited amount (three or four), so I can handle it better.

The biggest thing with being a pickup man is understanding livestock. You can learn it, but a lot of times it’s a instinct – it’s something you have in you. It all falls down to knowing what that animal is going to do and then reacting to it.

As far as picking up goes – I think it has been refined over the past 30 or so years. Years ago people just thought a pickup man was some guy that got on a big horse and rode it around an arena. As years went on, those ideas have changed. Picking up has now become more of a spectacle thing, almost like bull fighting. You make it almost an art and you keep trying to better yourself.

I travel with six horses. I want my horses to be able to handle the stock. In the bronc riding especially you really need a big stout horse that can handle a bucking horse being dallied up to them. I try to ride really nice horses and have them as broke as possible.

I make it very clear to guys who ask me about being a pickup man – this is not a glamorous job. You are expected to do a lot and you get very little praise for doing it. We don’t get paid a whole lot compared to the bull fighters, announcers or clowns. You are sure not going to get rich at it and you have to think about the expenses you have to put out before you even get started. You will need at least three to four horses that are going to work for you. I use five horses a day, per performance.

I put a lot of pressure on myself, because I want to do the very best I can. But no matter how hard you try you are working with animals, things don’t always go as smooth as you like. Pressure comes from everyone watching the rodeo, and they seem to dwell on the screw-ups. You have to try not to think about it. You go to Vegas and the day before it starts you get a nervous stomach. But once they have bucked the first horse you forget about it and you just do your job.

Sometimes you can be a good pickup man individually, but some don’t know how to work with a partner. Working with my brother Wade, that is as good as it gets. We both know where we both are, throughout the performance. You get picking up with someone who is not paying attention and you are going to get in a wreck in a real hurry.

The arena is basically yours all throughout the rodeo. But keep your ego in check. I’ve always said, if you get to thinking that you are pretty special, something will happen in that arena that will set you back and ground you in a big hurry. It’s a humbling thing when things happen in the arena.

There have been times when I have thought that I’ve had enough, but right now I love picking up and going to rodeos. What I don’t like is the traveling as I’m always a long way from home. I started when I was about 25. The only thing I wish I would have started sooner, so I could have done this longer. I am not thinking about quitting, but sooner or later your body can only handle so much.

I think the biggest payoff of this job is having the respect of your contestants and the contractors. Starting out is not easy and it is a hard deal to get into. It is hard for a young guy to start, as you will need someone who is willing to hire you. It’s easy to blow $100,000 in a heartbeat – on your truck, trailer and horses. But it is a good job and you can have fun, once you get established.

Real Life Rodeo Queen Secret Number 8

Zeke Thurston and Katy Lucas at the Ram National Circuit Finals Rodeo in Kissimmee, Florida.

Zeke Thurston and Katy Lucas at the Ram National Circuit Finals Rodeo in Kissimmee, Florida.

You have to be a true cowgirl to do this job.

I’m not saying you have to be able to win the rodeo next weekend, have a father that you followed on the rodeo trail for 20 years, or have lived on a ranch all your life.

True cowgirls, in my mind at least, only require one quality: passion for this sport.

My sport is rodeo, and because it’s my sport I live and breathe it every day. It’s not a chore for me to study rodeo, it’s my obsession. I read articles about it online and in print, watch videos covering it, and listen to it on the radio.

I get excited when one of my Canadian competitors gets on a hot streak, I wish them best of luck with a healing injury, and I know it’s corny, but I tear up every time I see one of them celebrate a big win.

For example, did you know that Zeke Thurston won the Houston rodeo and wasn’t even supposed to be entered? When another competitor was injured, Zeke rolled up into the rodeo but by then the first round had already come and gone. So with one round less than any other competitor and as one of the least experienced bronc riders there, Zeke battled his way to the top!

Did you also know that when steer wrestler Derek Frank hurt his knee at the Ponoka Stampede last year I helped him write his letter to the benevolent fund to request injury compensation?

And did you know I fought the urge to cry like a baby when I interviewed team ropers Kolton Schmidt and Tyrel Flewelling after winning the Canadian Finals Rodeo in 2013?

Kolton-and-Katy-Interview-CFR-2013

Katy Lucas interviewing Kolton Schmidt about winning the 2013 Canadian Finals Rodeo in the Team Roping.

I would never think that rodeo queens should be required to compete in rodeo events themselves and I don’t think they should have to grow up in rodeo, but I do think they have to be true cowgirls in the way that they have a passion for the sport of rodeo.

By doing that, only then can you be the best representative for this sport, my sport, rodeo.