Mary Burger of Pauls Valley, OK, during the barrel racing event at the Calgary Stampede rodeo on Sunday, July 10, 2016 AL CHAREST/POSTMEDIA
Ageless barrel racer makes third trip to grandstand
Another day, another first-place showing for Mary Burger.
And another rousing Calgary Stampede standing ovation from appreciative barrel racing fans, who have basically awarded rock-star status to the 67-year-old grandmother from Pauls Valley, Okla.
“I didn’t even see that, but some of the girls told me,” said Burger after posting Sunday afternoon’s top time of 18.08 seconds at Stampede Park. “I knew the crowd went wild. I knew that they were noisy and I knew they were yelling for me, but I had no idea it was a standing ovation. That’s a first here at the Calgary Stampede.”
Thanks to three straight trips to the grandstand stage to pick up the winner’s cheque for $5,500, Burger has already punched her ticket to Championship Sunday.
“I don’t know,” said Burger when asked to sum up the secret to her success. “I’ve trained my own horses. I work hard and I just leave the rest up to God. If it’s my turn again, he’s going to give it to me.”
After stopping the clock at 17.46 and 17.72 seconds respectively during the first two days of competition, Burger and her horse Mo were a little slower on Sunday, but were still fast enough to edge out Taylor Jacob, of Carmine, Texas, by 8/100ths of a second for top spot.
“The ground was just a little firmer,” said Burger, who also sits atop the Women’s Professional Rodeo Association standings with almost $100,000 in earnings this year. “Of course, he didn’t know. He thought he had a little more ground to get ahold of. He just had to kind of stand up a little more and make his run.”
Nothing seems to faze the affable senior citizen, which has made her even more of a fan favourite.
“I’ve been pretty good about pressure,” Burger said. “It doesn’t really bother me.”
Kelley Schnaufer, of Pueblo, Colo., posted a time of 18.20 seconds aboard her horse Undeniable Jess to finish third behind Burger and Jacob on Sunday.
In her first trip to compete at the Calgary Stampede, Schnaufer has racked up $10,500 in earnings to put her in second spot in the Pool A aggregate standings.
“I didn’t expect this at all,” said the 57-year-old retired teacher. “I just came up here to enjoy myself.”
By virtue of her performance on the WPRA pro tour standings last year, Schnaufer earned her first-ever invitation to compete in Calgary.
“It’s pretty cool,” she said. “I tell you, all the girls have been so nice. The committee here has been more than gracious and it’s just been the best.”
Schnaufer also made sure to credit her seven-year-old mare for her part in her success.
“She did well at some bigger rodeos that were in the pro tour,” she said. “Last year was her first year ever really running barrels.”
And now Schnaufer and Undeniable Jess have put themselves in position to compete for a chance to win $100,000 on Championship Sunday.
“It’ll be great if that would happen,” said Schnaufer, who has also enjoyed watching Burger achieve such lofty success. “Just let her enjoy it. I’ll take third every time. It’s been great.”
Saskatchewan's Dakota Buttar learns on fly in Sunday's bullride
Published on: July 10, 2016 | Last Updated: July 10, 2016 7:43 PM MDT
Dakota Buttar from Kindersley, Sask., rode Preacher to a first-place tie on Sunday. GAVIN YOUNG / CALGARY HERALD
No scouting report.
Roughstock cowboys always ask around for tips on taming their next opponent, but Dakota Buttar’s bullriding buddies didn’t know a lick about Preacher — his date for Day 3 at the Calgary Stampede.
“Some guys like to know what a bull does every time, but sometimes it’s better if you don’t so you’re not counting on them to do that every time,” Buttar shrugged. “Because they’re animals, so they’ll change it up, too.”
Next time one of his pals is preparing to climb aboard Preacher, the 23-year-old from Kindersley, Sask., will be the go-to guy for a history lesson.
Here’s a bit of what he can pass along …
Preacher started squirming in the chutes Sunday, slamming Buttar’s elbow into the iron and briefly sending a shooting pain through his so-called funny-bone.
After the eight-second horn had sounded, the ornery animal charged at bullfighter Scott Waye.
And in between? Preacher twisted to the left, dipping his horns several times to make it clear to his guest that he wasn’t welcome.
Buttar wasn’t going anywhere, though, matching each and every move and milking 87.5 points from the judging panel. He split the top spot in Sunday’s go-round with Chandler Bownds of Lubbock, Texas.
“Hey, it worked out,” Buttar said.
Worked out for Bownds, too.
Just over a week ago, the 25-year-old didn’t even have an invite to compete at the Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth. That changed when another bullrider RSVPed as a no-go, with Calgary Stampede rodeo secretary Barry Magrath calling to tell Bownds that he was off the alternate list and on the Pool A roster.
“He called me first thing in the morning, and I knew I should answer it because I was hoping to get a call to come here. I was really excited to come,” Bownds said. “I didn’t have too much going on besides going to some (Professional Bull Riders events) down south, but I called and turned out of them to come here. There’s way more money here than there would be down there.”
Bownds collected a nice chunk of that change — $5,000, to be exact — after a sweet ride Sunday on a bull they call Sugar Smack.
He also earned a roar from the crowd, who had watched four of the first five cowboys hit the dirt before clocking a qualified ride.
“You try not to think about that,” Bownds insisted. “You don’t want to worry about anyone else, just worry about yourself and staying on your bull and riding him for eight seconds.”
Oklahoma’s Ryan Dirteater, who keeps his jeans a lot cleaner than his last name might suggest, hung on for an 85.5-point stomp Sunday on Scuttle Butt, cashing a cheque for the third straight day and maintaining his lead in the aggregate standings with a three-day haul of $11,500.
Buttar is now sitting second in Pool A with $10,500, while Bownds and North Dakota’s Nathan Schaper are splitting third with $7,000 apiece.
When the dust settles after Monday’s show, the top-four in each event will be able to avoid Wildcard Saturday.
Saddle-bronc star Cort Scheer claims another bronze for collection
Published on: July 10, 2016 | Last Updated: July 10, 2016 7:29 PM MDT
Cort Scheer from Elsmere, Nebraska rode Northern Lights to top spot in the Saddle Bronc event on Day 3 of the Calgary Stampede Rodeo, Sunday July 10, 2016. Gavin Young/Postmedia GAVIN YOUNG / CALGARY HERALD
Pam Scheer better clear another spot on the mantle.
Because her saddle-bronc riding son, Cort, is bringing another keepsake back from the Calgary Stampede.
“I don’t get a whole lot of my bronzes and trophies,” Scheer said. “Mom keeps all that stuff at home.”
Mom must have quite a collection.
“Yeah, she does alright, I think,” Scheer said.
The 30-year-old saddle-bronc star from Elsmere, Neb., did more than alright in Sunday’s rodeo show at Stampede Park, winning the day-money thanks to an 84.5-point waltz on Big Country’s Northern Lights.
Scheer was, as you’d expect, all smiles after his lap on the victory horse.
Truth is, though, he’d been grinning since sometime Saturday, when he learned he’d finally scored a date with Northern Lights.
“That’s a nice little horse,” Scheer said. “I’ve always wanted to draw him, so I was pretty excited to have him in this pen. As long as I did my part, I knew I could do ‘er.
“A lot of people get nervous for buckers, but sometimes you get nervous for those because you can screw them up and everybody is going to make fun of you. But I was excited … You know you’re going to sleep good and come back tomorrow relaxed and just smile and have fun.”
He certainly seems to be having fun on his latest trip to Calgary.
Monday marks the end of Pool A action, and Scheer is already guaranteed an invite to saddle up again on Championship Sunday.
He’s earned $14,000 so far, twice as much as any of his bronc-riding buds.
While many of the other competitors are limping around the locker-room, Scheer has a bit of strut in his stride after a quiet month.
“Honestly, this is as healthy as I’ve ever been,” he said. “I haven’t been going up and down the road eating hot dogs and Mountain Dew. I’ve been home eating good and working, and I feel great. Feel good, look good, ride good — that’s what we always say.
“I’m feeling great. I ain’t gonna look good, but hopefully ride good.”
Nobody could match Scheer’s score, but Sunday was kind to the Canadians in Pool A saddle-bronc action at the Stampede.
Jake Watson of Hudson’s Hope, B.C., claimed the second-place payout with an 84-point spin on Big Stone’s Big Muddy, while a hat-trick of Albertans — Meeting Creek’s Layton Greens (82.5), Pincher Creek’s Dustin Flundra (81.5) and Jim Berry of Rocky Mountain House (81) — were also headed to the rodeo office to collect a cheque.
The bad news is all three cowboys from the Wild Rose Province remain on the wrong side of the bubble in the aggregate, meaning they’ll need to cash in again Monday if they want to kick up their feet on Wildcard Saturday.
After Pool A wraps up, Scheer will beeline to a rodeo in Colorado before returning for his shot at the $100,000 jackpot.
And, of course, a shot at the big bronze.
That is, if Pam has space for another?
“I guarantee she’d clear a spot off for it,” Scheer said.
Banged-up Aridrie rider plays through pain to earn top bareback prize money
Published on: July 10, 2016 | Last Updated: July 10, 2016 7:04 PM MDT
Jake Vold from Airdrie, Alberta took the top spot in the Bareback event riding Whiskey Bent on Day 3 of the Calgary Stampede Rodeo, Sunday July 10, 2016. Gavin Young/Postmedia GAVIN YOUNG / CALGARY HERALD
Not even separated ribs – among other ailments – could keep Jake Vold away from competing at the Calgary Stampede rodeo.
Despite qualifying for the final-four showdown at the Ponoka Stampede on July 3, Vold had to bow out due to a slew of injuries he suffered earlier that day.
“Separated ribs and some cartilage damage and now they maybe think I did some muscle damage,” said the 26-year-old bareback rider from Airdrie, Alta.
Vold decided to play through the pain and has won money on all three days of Pool A action at Stampede Park.
“I guess it’s just trying to do mind over matter and it worked out today,” said Vold, who earned $5,500 for finishing first on Sunday thanks to an 86.5-point ride atop Whiskey Bent. “You’ve just got to tough it out and I didn’t want to miss Calgary. I love it here.”
Will Lowe, of Canyon, Texas, and Caleb Bennett, of Tremonton, Utah, finished tied for second after posting identical scores of 85.5.
Bennett, who claimed top day money on both Friday and Saturday, has already wrapped up top spot in the Pool A standings with $15,000 in earnings, while Vold sits in second spot at $9,000.
“I love rodeoing up here and rodeoing against Caleb,” said Vold, who gave Bennett a hard time about losing to someone as banged up as him. “We definitely feed off each other. He’s really hot right now here in Calgary. He’s kicking our butts.”
As for whether he’ll be able to compete on Championship Sunday, should he qualify, Vold is taking a wait-and-see approach.
“I’ll meet with the doctors here after and we’re just going to kind of see where to go,” said the two-time Canadian national champion.
Texas rider rides borrowed mount to top money in tie-down roping
Published on: July 10, 2016 | Last Updated: July 10, 2016 5:20 PM MDT
Caleb Smidt from Bellville, Texas posted the fastest time in the Tie-Down Roping event on Day 3 of the Calgary Stampede Rodeo, Sunday July 10, 2016. Gavin Young/Postmedia GAVIN YOUNG / CALGARY HERALD
Caleb Smidt did what most of his rivals couldn’t do and it paid off.
Half of the 10 competitors in Sunday’s tie-down roping go-round at the Calgary Stampede rodeo took no times, while Cade Swor of Chico, Texas, broke the barrier and had to settle for a time of 24.3 seconds.
“It was good to go second-to-last today because these guys were having a little tough luck, but it’s part of it,” said Smidt, who stopped the clock at 7.2 seconds to finish first and pick up a cheque for $5,500. “There’s some different rules here at the Calgary Stampede. I had a good calf and made a good run.”
Aboard his horse Bandaid, Smidt wound up taking no times on the first two days of competition before deciding to mount a new ride on Sunday.
“I sent a little bay horse that I bought up here and he’s a little sore and just wasn’t really running as hard as I needed him to,” said the 26-year-old cowboy from Bellville, Texas. “I couldn’t get going fast enough the first two rounds. I missed the barrier and I had to reach. It was harder than it should be.”
Due to his lack of success, Smidt asked Nanton’s Logan Bird if he could ride his horse TJ, which also helped Clint Robinson, of Spanish Fork, Utah, win day money on Friday.
“I just asked Bird if he’d let me on and he said, ‘Heck yeah,’ and I pretty much just let my hair hang down,” explained Smidt, who plans on riding TJ again on Monday during the final day of Pool A action. “I just tried to make no mistakes. I had a great calf on this set and kind of went through the motions.”
Sitting in fifth spot in the aggregate standings, Smidt will have to post another fast time on Monday if he hopes to get a bid into Championship Sunday, automatically awarded to the top four finishers.
Despite taking a no time on Sunday afternoon, Shane Hanchey, of Sulphur, La., still leads the Pool A standings with $10,000 in earnings followed closely by Robinson at $8,500.
Smidt actually qualified to compete at the Stampede two years ago, but dislocated his ankle and broke his leg in three places while training in May of 2014.
“I didn’t rope for eight months after that,” said Smidt, the reigning Wrangler National Finals Rodeo tie-down roping champion. “The first calf I ran was in December the end of that year. It was a long injury and I finally came back from it.”
And how does his ankle feel now?
“I wear an ankle brace and I’m better than I was before,” said Smidt, who sits eighth in the PRCA standings with $37,885 in earnings. “I had a really good winter and I’ve had an OK summer so far. It needs to get a little better, but I’ve got a chance to make the finals again.
“They don’t invite you back, though. You’ve got to make it back.”
He’d also love to get invited back to the Calgary Stampede for years to come.
“If they let me come back, I’ll probably come back,” he said.
Wyoming's Seth Brockman continues winning ways in Calgary Stampede steer-wrestling
Published on: July 10, 2016 | Last Updated: July 10, 2016 5:00 PM MDT
Seth Brockman from Wheatland Wyoming took top money in the Steer Wrestling event on Day 3 of the Calgary Stampede Rodeo, Sunday July 10, 2016. Gavin Young/Postmedia GAVIN YOUNG / CALGARY HERALD
Word travels fast.
After racking up $10,000 in prize-money during the first two days of rodeo action at the Calgary Stampede, steer-wrestler Seth Brockman told reporters, “I’m greedy and I won’t lie about it, either.”
Brockman cleaned up again in Sunday’s session, and the soft-spoken cowboy from Wheatland, Wyo., admitted afterward that his bulldogging buddies have been busting his chops about that comment.
“I’ve caught quite a bit of hell about that,” Brockman said. “They read the paper and then they take pictures of it and send it back to the States. I had one friend who said, ‘Well, what the hell did you go up there for anyway?’
“I was just joking around, but when you’re going up against these guys very day … I mean, these guys are the best, and that’s why they’re here. So there’s no backing down.”
For nine other steer-wrestlers in Pool A, there’s no keeping up.
Brockman finished his business Sunday in four seconds flat, bumping Louisiana’s Tyler Waguespack (4.1) from the top spot on the payscale.
After a second-place showing in the opening go-round, the 33-year-old Brockman has now claimed the winning bronze on back-to-back days.
With a three-day tally of $15,500, he’s clinched an invite to return next Sunday for the richest single day in rodeo. In fact, only barrel-racing granny Mary Burger — an obvious fan-favourite at Stampede Park — has collected more cash so far.
“I think momentum is everything,” Brockman said. “You can’t wait to get to the next one. Tomorrow can’t come fast enough.”