By Terri Mason
The up-and-comers of the rough stock events are a prized commodity as every year, rodeo committees and fans realize that while the ranks of timed events are swelling, the numbers of rough stock contestants are rapidly dwindling.
Though many of the young cowboys come from rodeo families, it’s not as if every kid has their own string of practice rough stock in their backyard – let alone an arena equipped with side-delivery chutes, a gate man, flank pullers and pick up men. Practice pens of broncs are becoming tougher to find for a couple of reasons; the high cost of keeping livestock has culled many herds and the exorbitant cost of insurance has almost stopped practice riding dead in its tracks.
Plus, you have to have the guts to get on.
It’s no secret that the future of rodeo rests in the hands of the rough stock riders. These young men are packed with bravery and dedication and they love the thrill of matching their skill against animal athletes. It takes commitment and perseverance to get started down the rodeo trail and these cowboys (and their parents) deserve a lot of credit.
When these young rough stock riders bust out of the chutes I encourage you to make a lot of noise. The survival of rodeo depends on their fortitude and skill as they ride into the future – one buck at a time.
Novice Saddle Bronc (NSB)
Season leader Coleman Watt of Hardisty, Alta., got his start following in the tracks of his dad. Where does he practice? “At a few places,” he explains. “I’ll ride broncs at (stock contractor) Dale Woodward’s arena in Wainwright and in the winter, either at Vermilion College or the Stettler Arena.”
During his high school years, Casey Bertram of Piapot, Sask., made countless trips to far away Brooks, Alta., to practice. Now in a U.S. college on a rodeo scholarship, the sport is paying him back with an education and a trip to the Big Show. “Yes ma’am,” he says. “I’ve been trying for two years to get to the CFR and I’ve finally made it.”
Chad Thomson of Black Diamond, Alta., is studying at Olds College and is an ardent bronc rider on the rodeo team. “We have rough stock practice every Tuesday night,” he says. “I don’t know where in the world you’d find better coaches or a better pen of practice horses – they’re outstanding.”
Novice Bareback (NBB)
Cole Goodine of Carbon, Alta., is not only making his first trip to the CFR, but it will also be his first time watching it. “I started out in team roping…then Luke Creasy showed up with a bareback rigging at a high school rodeo and dared me to climb on.” He was hooked. “I’m all about the wild and the crazy ride, putting on a show – that’s all me,” he laughs.
The 2009 NBB champion is Colin Adams of Deloraine, Man., and he’s back to defend his title. He too earned a rodeo scholarship to college. Last year he had a big money lead; this year they’re all within a hundred bucks. “Those other guys ride pretty good,” he mused. “It’s going to come down to the CFR.”
Clint Laye of Cadogan, Alta., has a family tradition that stretches back three generations in rodeo – mostly timed events. “I’ve always had more of an interest in rough stock,” he confesses. This will be his first trip to the CFR.
Boys Steer Riding (BSR)
Season leader Bryce West of Cadogan, Alta., is leading the pack of young guns into the CFR. This is the second CFR appearance for this 13-year-old veteran and he’s aiming for the buckle. “My family’s always been rodeoing,” he says, “I’ll carry on for this generation.” While he currently specializes in steer riding, his future is all mapped out. “Then I’m going in junior bull riding and then bull riding,” he says confidently.
Thanks to his stock contractor dad, Kole Ashbacher of Arrowwood, Alta., has his own practice stock in his backyard. He has plans to stay in the rough stock end of the arena and has set his sights on the saddle bronc event. “I’m going to try it after the CFR,” says the 14-year-old.
Austin Nash of Sangudo, Alta., comes with a rodeo pedigree and also his practice pen. This is his second trip to the CFR; his first appearance in the arena was in 2008. “My best rodeos this year was Medicine Hat and Camrose,” he explained. “I won both.”
The entire Moen family of Elrose, Sask., is involved in rodeo and at 14, Jorden Moen is the reigning High School Rodeo Champion steer rider. “I had to make a choice between competing at Calgary or the Finals in Gallup, New Mexico,” he explained. “I chose Calgary.” This is his second trip to Edmonton.
Dayton Johnston hails from a rodeo family near Milk River, Alta., and he got an early start in rodeo. “My dad started me riding calves at about 5,” he says. With all his years of riding experience he is looking forward to his first CFR. “It’ll be fun; my whole family will be there.”
Another rider with a practice pen is Tyrell Ward of Three Hills, Alta. “I just practice at home in the summer,” he explains. “I go up to Stettler in the winter. They have practices every week.” Tyrell’s career began after attending a Johansen brother’s steer riding school.
When these young cowboys bust out of the chutes make a lot of noise. They’re proud and excited to be here and the future of rodeo is riding on them – one buck at a time.