Calgary Stampede Day 8 Rodeo Roundup


Orin Larson from Inglis, Manitoba rides Gypsey Soul in the Bareback event at the Calgary Stampede Rodeo on Wednesday July 13, 2016.CALGARY HERALD

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For the past three days, he’s been putting on a clinic in the rodeo arena.

On Saturday, bareback-riding ace Orin Larsen will switch to tour-guide duties.

That is, if he bothers to set his alarm.

“I’ve got a day-off so I’m not gonna wake up until probably Sunday,” Larsen said with a grin. “No, I’ll take my girlfriend and go see the mountains and go see our old place over by Hand Hills and kinda make a little vacation out of it.

“I’ll do a lot of driving, and not much walking.”

Larsen, who was born in Strathmore but raised mostly in Manitoba, has been hoofing around a bit more than the rest of his bareback-riding buddies this week.

Around 4 p.m. on Wednesday and on Thursday and again on Friday, the 25-year-old waltzed over to the stage at Stampede Park to accept a shiny bronze. He’s also been beelining back and forth from the rodeo office, picking up four cheques worth a grand total of $19,000.

“I guess it’s easy to win money like this when you’re drawing this good,” Larsen said. “I have to be thankful for all the horses I’ve had.”

The cowboy deserves some credit, too.

Larsen scored a date Friday with Rum Flavoured and refused to vacate his not-so-comfy seat as the 1,300-lb. bucking horse from the Calgary Stampede Ranch veered to the left and then eventually tried to eject his guest by twisting the other direction.

The in-house announcers marvelled, calling it “an unbelievable performance by horse and cowboy.” The judges apparently agreed, shelling out 86.5 points.

“That’s a big, big strong horse,” Larsen said. “After today, he made me hurt everywhere, but I was pretty happy with the way things ended up.

“I think most of that 86.5 came from the horse, because he beat me to a pulp.”

Besides the aches and pains, Larsen hasn’t had much cause to complain.

In four rounds of Pool B bareback action, his worst score was an 83. His worst!

There really should be a camera crew filming Dennis and Maida Wearmouth, since Larsen figures his grandparents have been whooping it up in the grandstand at Stampede Park after each of his rides.

“They’re probably jumping up and down in the stands,” he said. “They wouldn’t miss this for anything.”

They won’t want to miss Sunday, either. After all, their grandson will rank among the favourites for the $100,000 grand prize and a really big bareback bronze.

“Just keep riding like I have been and hope I get the right horse and do my job,” Larsen said. “And I think it will work out good.”

Minnesota’s Tanner Aus, who claimed the second-place payout Friday thanks to an 86-point stomp aboard Vold’s Dancing Queen, can also skip Wildcard Saturday and rest up for the richest single day in rodeo.

Richie Champion of Texas and Oregon’s Steven Peebles missed out on the money in the final go-round of Pool B but still earned direct tickets to Championship Sunday.

Oklahoma's Ryan Jarrett ropes an invite to Championship Sunday in Calgary

More from Wes Gilbertson

Published on: July 15, 2016 | Last Updated: July 15, 2016 9:43 PM MDT

Ryan Jarrett of Summerville, GA, posted the top time ( 7.2 seconds) on Day 8 of the tie-down roping event at the Calgary Stampede rodeo on Friday, July 15, 2016. AL CHAREST / AL CHAREST/POSTMEDIA

This cowboy would usually rather be ropin’ than resting.

But in this particular case, Oklahoma’s Ryan Jarrett certainly ain’t complaining.

“I would just as soon rope every day,” Jarrett said after Friday’s winning run in tie-down action on a soggy day at the Calgary Stampede. “But I don’t want to have to rope at Wildcard Saturday here, because it’s tough. For two positions, it’s real tough.

“So I’ll be ready Sunday.”


And relaxing Saturday, when a dozen other ropers compete for last-chance entries to the single richest day in rodeo.

Jarrett was the first cowboy on the roster for Friday’s go-round and finished his business in 7.2 seconds.

The tough part might have been waiting around to see if any of his buddies could better that time in the mud and the muck.

They couldn’t.

“I don’t mind the mud,” Jarrett told the media, pausing briefly as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s motorcade rolled past. “The Stampede, they do a pretty good job of getting the ground good and keeping it that way, doing the best they can. So I knew it wouldn’t be treacherous by no means — just wet and nasty.”

With $5,500 in day-money, the 32-year-old Jarrett climbed into third in the Pool B aggregate. A hat-trick of Texan tie-down ropers — Fred Whitfield, Cory Solomon and Marty Yates — also advanced.

Alberta’s own Logan Hofer added a small wad to his wallet with a fifth-place run Friday, but the just-turned-30-year-old from Magrath will be back in the saddle on Wildcard Saturday.

Barrel-racer Cayla Melby hoping to change family fortunes at Calgary Stampede

More from Wes Gilbertson

Published on: July 15, 2016 | Last Updated: July 15, 2016 9:37 PM MDT

Cayla Melby of Burneyville, OK, sailed around the barrels in a time of 17.21 seconds during Day 8 barrel-racing action at the Calgary Stampede rodeo on Friday, July 15, 2016. AL CHAREST / AL CHAREST/POSTMEDIA

Up until this point, mother and daughter had shared an oh-so-similar experience at the Calgary Stampede.

Twice, Jane Melby earned an invite to blaze around the barrels at the legendary summer shindig. Both times, she left without much extra jingle in her jeans.

Cayla Melby is now a rookie at the Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth, and the 18-year-old cowgirl didn’t have even a nickel to show for her first three rips around the infield.

“It’s a rodeo everybody lives to come to,” Cayla said. “But the Melbys have not been too successful yet.”

Perhaps, this will be the turning point.

Thanks to an 18.18-second spin in soupy, splashy conditions, the bubbly teen from Burneyville, Okla., split the top pay-slot in Friday’s barrel-racing action with veteran Lisa Lockhart.

Both collected $5,000 — and a shiny bronze — for their efforts.

“I’m glad to finally be this close to the stage,” Jane beamed as the Melbys waited for the daily hardware handout. “I wish we would’ve used that horse from the git-go. I hope it builds her confidence for tomorrow.”

Looking to reverse her luck and needing a four-legged friend who could handle the muck, Cayla switched rides for Friday’s go-round, saddling up a seven-year-old with many nicknames and just as much speed.

There’s no doubt that ol’ What’s-His-Name? — since purchasing the horse in April, he’s sometimes been Cream Puff or Mighty Whitey or Ice — will be getting the call again on Wildcard Saturday.

“We’re just kind of getting to know each other,” Cayla said. “He should get better the more he goes.”

That goes for horse and rider.

Through eight afternoons of barrel-racing action at Stampede Park, the experienced cowgirls have collected most of the cash.

At 67 years young, grinning granny Mary Burger became a fan favourite as she cruised to four consecutive victories in Pool A.

The 50-year-old Lockhart was the leading lady in the Pool B aggregate. Also advancing after Friday’s number-crunching was complete were 40-somethings Nancy Csabay and Michele McLeod and up-and-comer Jackie Ganter, still a teen until early-October.

Like Ganter, Cayla Melby should be a top contender on the cloverleaf pattern for years to come.

Truth is, she’s already checked off one goal just by being here.

“She has dreamed about coming to Calgary since she was 15 and she was the one that came up with a plan as to how she was going to be here when she was 18,” Jane said.

“When I made the Canadian Finals in 2011, I realized at the CFR that you didn’t have to be 18 to compete in Canada, and you do in the States. So when I came back up in 2013, she was 15 and she said, ‘Mom, I’m going to get to Calgary when I’m 18.’ She said, ‘I’m going to fill my permit and when I’m 17, I’m going to come back and make the Canadian Finals and be in the top-four.’

“She was 11th going into the finals and second overall, so she was reserve Canadian champ last year, and that’s how she got the qualification to come to Calgary. So it’s been really exciting watching her work her way up to this.”

Wright splits saddle bronc with defending Stampede champ

More from Kristen Odland, Postmedia

Published on: July 15, 2016 | Last Updated: July 15, 2016 9:17 PM MDT

Utah cowboy Jake Wright rides Crash Gate in the saddle bronc event at the Calgary Stampede rodeo on Friday, July 15, 2016. AL CHAREST / AL CHAREST/POSTMEDIA

They’re called ‘mudders,’ saddle bronc horses that love to ride in the wet and slippery muck.

Cow Camp — Jake’s Wright’s draw on Friday — was one of them.

The rider was not.

“No,” deadpanned the 27-year-old. “I don’t really like the mud.”

And neither will his dry cleaners.

Wearing a crisp white shirt, Wright teamed up with the mud-loving Cow Camp for a ride worth 84-points and promptly dismounted after eight seconds — right into the massive puddles in front of the Calgary Stampede infield chutes.

“I was excited to have him, especially in the mud,” Wright said. “I’ve seen him twice and he’s been in the mud both times. “He bucked like heck both times.”

As for his not-so-wise wardrobe selection?

“Well, I only have two to choose from,” he said. “White or blue. And I usually go with white. “That’s all I bring.”

The 84-point ride held up, even after Zeke Thurston’s re-ride aboard Major Cover. Thurston, celebrating his 22nd birthday, tied Wright’s performance and the two cowboys split first and second-placed day money.

The $5,000 cheque was just enough to bump Thurston’s aggregate winnings up to qualify for Sunday’s final. The young defending Calgary Stampede champion added $12,000 to his earnings.

Wright, meanwhile, is $14,500 richer after four days of action in Pool B. Much like his bronze-winning ride on Tuesday — he’d claimed first-placed day money with an 84.5-point ride — he took his victory lap seriously.

“Anytime you get a win at Calgary or a big rodeo like this and ride a good bronc like I got on today, I get pretty excited,” he said, chuckling. “That’s why I love what I do, you know?”

Wright and Thurston will be joined in Sunday’s final along with Wade Sundell ($9,500) and CoBurn Bradshaw ($9,000) who also finished among the top-four of the Pool B aggregate.

Byrne's sky high qualities good for bull riding

More from Kristen Odland, Postmedia

Published on: July 15, 2016 | Last Updated: July 15, 2016 9:49 PM MDT

Tanner Byrne falls off Silence Reins at last year's Calgary Stampede. Byrne is not your typical bull rider, standing at six-foot-four.CRYSTAL SCHICK / CALGARY HERALD

Tanner Byrne epitomizes the standard cowboy look.

But the lanky redhead is not your standard cowboy — among his peers, at least.

Swaggering around the Calgary Stampede change rooms at six-foot-four, the 24-year-old towers over most of the Johnny Gaudreau-sized bull riders. 

“You don’t see tall guys at this end of the arena,” chuckled Byrne. “But we’ve been making it work and there’s a few other guys that have been making it work so we can’t complain.”

What he can complain about, however, is the extra $50 or so he has to spend on the extra leather for his chaps in order to fit his inseam.

Still, regardless of his height — and the fact that he’s probably able to ride all of the rides on the Stampede midway unlike some of his friends — Byrne has the same odds during those eight seconds as the next guy.

“I’m tall, very tall for a bull rider,” he said with a chuckle. “A typical bull rider is 5’-5” to 5’-10” at the most. Them little bitty guys, it’s all about pound for pound strength and control of your body. So I have a lot more body and a lot more legs to control while I’m on the back of a bull. 

“But it’s worked out well for me. I’ve made it to the top of my game. I don’t find it a hindrance at all. I’ve always been tall so I’ve always known how to ride bulls that way.”

His technique is, naturally, a little different but the fundamentals and the objective is the same: to take the power away from the bulls and hang on for eight seconds.

Byrne will bring his knees up more towards the handle, instead of taking a secure and strong hold like some of the smaller cowboys do. He relies on balance, rather than strength.

“When you see a bull rider riding, you’ll see his legs down by his rope where you can hold onto the bull better,” he explained. “But if I did that, my feet might touch underneath the bottom of him so I ride more with my knees.

“It’s just a way to keep my long legs in the middle of them instead of way down at the sides.”

Standing at the same height since he was in grade school, Byrne has made it work. 

This is his fourth Calgary Stampede after years of watching his Dad Ryan fight bulls then, later, his brother Jesse and his cousin Scott. 

The Prince Albert, Sask., native turned professional when he turned 18-years-old and normally rides on the Professional Bull Riders Built Ford Tough Series circuit, touring around places like Chicago, New York, Phoenix, and Las Vegas from January to May.

He’s currently ranked 13th in PBR standings and enjoying his summer “vacation” before the series resumes in August.

“I haven’t been going anywhere, just been healing up after that first half and getting my body back feeling good,” Byrne said. “I came in a bit fresh. I was bucked off my first two bulls and kind of got it going (Thursday). Now I feel like I can keep going through this weekend.

“You just come here and it’s fun, everything about it. They’re the best bulls in Canada, the best bull riders in the world.”

On Friday, however, Byrne didn’t quite make enough money to qualify for Sunday’s championship final. His 81-point ride on Tight Rope won him a fourth-placed cheque and $5,500 overall.

But he, along with fellow Pool B riders Cody Teel, Robson Palermo, Cooper Davis (who rode former Calgary Flame Kris Russell’s bull Red Mile for 81-points on Friday), Clayton Foltyn, and Stetson Lawrence will be back for Wild Card Saturday.

Josh Birks dominated Friday’s performance with 90(!) points on Bomb Shell, adding to his four day total which is $14,500 now. He, J.B. Mauney, Sage Kimzey, and Fabiano Vieira finished atop the aggregate and automatically receive berths into Sunday. 

“You can’t get much better than that,” Birks said. “It feels good. It’s a big thrill. All of my idols have made it here from Australia. I’m loving it up here. I don’t want it to end.”

A muddy payday for Cassidy

More from Kristen Odland, Postmedia

Published on: July 15, 2016 | Last Updated: July 15, 2016 9:16 PM MDT

Cody Cassidy from Donald, Ab., pulled down his steer the quickest to take the steer wrestling at the Stampede Rodeo at the Calgary Stampede on Friday July 15, 2016. MIKE DREW / MIKE DREW/POSTMEDIA

Cody Cassidy could have used a favour.

With only Baylor Roche remaining of the 10 steer wrestlers in Pool B competition, Cassidy was counting on the Tremonton, Ut., native to bump all of the other cowboys out of their placing. Cassidy, sitting in first place with a 3.9-second time, was still $500 short of earning enough to qualify for Championship Sunday.

Roche needed to be 4.2 seconds or quicker. He wound up throwing down his steer in 4.3-seconds.


“I actually made it through last year on the last day I won the round,” Cassidy said, shaking his head. “I bumped Hunter (Cure) out by about $500. I’m just glad to win some money. 

“That’s everybody’s focus when they come here is to win money.” 

And, hey, at least he has another shot at winning money on Saturday and, if he’s lucky, Sunday.

Cassidy’s earnings are modest, currently sitting at $9,500 after four days of work but he was fifth and, of course, only the top-four aggregate winners advance automatically to Sunday’s championship final.

Cassidy will try to qualify the long way around. 

Should he win Saturday’s day money — worth $6,000 on Wild Card Saturday — he could ride into Sunday’s final with $15,500.

“It’s been a long time since I’ve been in the Wild Card,” said Cassidy, a four-time Canadian national champion who still holds the arena record (3.0-seconds) he set in 2010. “I think I made it through to Sunday the last six years in a row. I think in 2010 was the last year I had to go through the Wild Card. I’ve never done good in the Wild Card. 

“I guess maybe this is my year.”

And Friday, despite the mucky conditions, was his day.

Cassidy was the lone bulldogger in the three-second range while three others were around four seconds which were considerably fast times for the ground conditions.

“I knew I had to go for it,” Cassidy said. “I didn’t have no options so I tried to go right behind that steer and I got a good start. Trevor Knowles was talking to me beforehand and we were talking about going greasy out there because it was so muddy. He was saying, ‘Just make sure you get the steer’s head low.’ 

“Whether I did it or not, I don’t know. But it felt good.”

Even in the mud.

“In year’s past, they’ve had the ground harder here and when it rains, it’s like a Krazy Karpet,” he said. “Then the times are longer because you can’t turn the steers back. Today, there was still enough ground there that at least you could get a hold of it. It’s really not that bad. It doesn’t look good … but the crowd likes it.”

And the cowboys?

“There are probably some (guys that don’t like getting muddy),” said Cassidy with a chuckle. “But I like money too much.”

While Cassidy is back on Saturday, Dakota Eldridge ($13,500), Ty Erickson ($10,500), Cure ($10,500), and Casey Martin ($10,000) qualified for Sunday’s final round after Friday’s final action from Pool B.