Mary Burger and Mo hit the infield on their way to yet another win in the barrel racing competition at the Calgary Stampede on Monday July 11, 2016. MIKE DREW / CALGARY HERALD
Four in a row for Mary Burger in Calgary Stampede barrel racing
Mary Burger did it again.
The 67-year-old has been the star of the Calgary Stampede Rodeo so far this week, and she kept up her torrid pace on Monday afternoon with her fourth win in as many days in the barrel racing event.
But ask Burger about the secret to her astonishing success this week, and the Oklahoma grandmother doesn’t hesitate to assign credit to Mo, the horse she’s been training for the last five years.
“I guess my horse just likes this ground and the crowd, it’s amazing,” Burger said. “The ground has been different each day but I thought today it was really awesome, really his style of ground and we went for it, he liked it.”
Burger and Mo ripped around the Stampede course in a time of 17.33 seconds, which pushed her ahead of Hudson, Colorado’s Ivy Conrado, who finished second with a time of 17.78 seconds. The win pushed Burger’s earnings this week up to $22,000, as she finished well ahead of the Pool A pack.
She’ll be joined on Showdown Sunday by Conrado, who picked up $13,000 through four days of Pool A action, as well as Kelley Schnaufer, who earned $10,500 in winnings and Taylor Jacob, a Texan who won $8,000 this week.
The rest of the pack will be racing for a chance to compete on Sunday at Wild Card Saturday, but whoever else gets through, it’s hard to imagine anyone other than Burger being listed as the favourite to get their hands on Sunday’s $100,000 cheque.
“I come here to win some money, and I wasn’t expecting (the competition to go) this great, but I’m just speechless,” Burger said.
Throughout the weekend at the Stampede, the Calgary crowd quickly became enamoured with Burger, who hadn’t competed at the annual rodeo since 2010. Even before she sped out of the chutes on Monday afternoon, the fans in the stands began to applaud.
When you go on as dominant a streak as Burger’s been on, people start to talk. And Burger is dominating the conversation at the 2016 Calgary Stampede.
She also admitted that she’s feeding off the crowd’s energy and enjoying her moment in the spotlight.
“It’s amazing, I don’t know what to think,” Burger said. “I come in the arena and I can hear them cheering already. It just made me feel great, just really special.”
Speaking after her win on Monday, Burger’s answers to the media tended to go back to the word ‘special’ again and again. She’s earned over $100,000 so far this year on the barrel racing championship, and while she’s been considered one of the best in the world for a long time now, this week’s turn of events at the Stampede has felt different.
“It sure is special,” Burger said. “I guess especially because I trained this horse as a two-year-old and I put five years into him … He’s supposed to be a big boy and I wanted him to step up, and he is, he’s just so much fun.”
Number crunching for Kindersley bull rider
Dakota Buttar rode Neon Magic to win the bull riding competition on Day 4 at the Calgary Stampede on Monday July 11, 2016. Mike Drew/Postmedia MIKE DREW / CALGARY HERALD
Dakota Buttar has always been good with numbers.
In fact, the 23-year-old Kindersley, Sask., cowboy is putting his skills to practical use and is studying to become an accountant some day.
Just not today.
“I’m a couple years in right now,” “I take (courses) in my own time, in the winter when I’m not too busy. I just take one or two classes at a time and just plug away at it.
“I really like math. It’s kind of been my thing for a long time. I need something to fall back on after bull-riding is done.”
And, despite his checkered health report from the past few weeks, Buttar is not done. Not by a long shot.
Still considered young in the bull-riding world, the four-time Canadian Finals Rodeo competitor turned professional in 2011 but has been on bulls since he was 16 years old.
He made the top 10 at last year’s Calgary Stampede final — and the math has added up again this year. It went like this:
• 87 points on Friday — $5,500
• 81 points on Saturday
• 87.5 points on Sunday — $5,000 (splitting first and second place with Chandler Bownds)
• 88 ponts on Monday — $5,500
And that left Buttar with $16,000 tucked into his chaps as he rides into Sunday’s final. There he’ll get a one-day chance at $100,000.
On Monday — the Pool A finale — he was only one of three riders that managed to hang on, one of which was the flashy-in-purple Bownds.
The Lubbock, Tex., native fist-pumped the crowd after an 86-point performance that bumped up his three-day total of $11,500.
Nathan Schaper of Grassy Butte, N.D., was the other clear rider who had an 84.5 ride on a bull named Lone Butte. Buttar and Bownds will join Schaper ($10,500) and Ryan Dirteater of Hulbert, Okla. ($11,500), as the top four cowboy from each pool automatically advance to Sunday’s final.
For their efforts, the other seven cowboys on Monday received a face full of mud.
“It was a good pen of bulls and everything bucked,” insisted Buttar. “But it was a hard pen of bulls. It was hard to ride (Monday).
“Every bull is different and they all have they’re different things they do.”
It’s been amazing Buttar has been able to hang on at all this week, let alone for eight seconds each day.
He separated his right shoulder at a PBR Canada event in Ponoka and then, in the Ponoka Stampede final, he sustained a concussion.
For most rodeo cowboys, it’s not a matter of “if” you get injured, it’s a matter of “when.” Riding with pain is usually part of the job description.
But Buttar has taken it to the next level and has been getting treated for a few hours each day in the Stampede’s sports medicine office.
“I’ve been pretty sore,” admitted Buttar with a smile. “The first night here, I got roughed up pretty good. Just aches and pains but I feel a lot better.
“This is probably the best I’ve felt in a couple of weeks.”
Good news, considering a solid couple of rides on Sunday could set him up — and pay for the remainder of his accounting courses — in a hurry.
“Last year I got into Sunday,” Buttar said. “It’s definitely a big relief to not have to come back on (Wild Card) Saturday. I can take a day off and rest up.
“I was going to take off and go to a couple rodeos this week, but I’m going to rest up for Sunday. I could use a couple days off.”
Four-time world champion takes the top prize in Stampede bareback on Day 4
Published on: July 11, 2016 | Last Updated: July 11, 2016 6:53 PM MDT
Texas cowboy Bobby Mote rode Buckskin Sally to a score of 86.50 on Day 4 at the Calgary Stampede rodeo bareback event on Monday, July 11, 2016. AL CHAREST/POSTMEDIA AL CHAREST / AL CHAREST/POSTMEDIA
Before he rode out into the arena at the Calgary Stampede, the folks behinds the scenes told Bobby Mote that his ride for the day probably wouldn’t buck quite as much as some of the other horses who were scheduled.
Then Mote rode Buckskin Sally out of the chutes and right away realized just how wrong everyone had been.
“I thought I was ready and then on the second jump I was looking the wrong direction and thought maybe I wasn’t ready,” the Stephenville, Texas, cowboy said. “It’s a horse that’s been around a while and kind of went under the radar, it wasn’t supposed to buck that hard.
“I had to do something and I had to keep spurring, it sure didn’t feel perfect by any means.”
To be clear, Mote wasn’t complaining. Buckskin Sally might have surprised a lot of people at the Stampede by bucking so hard, but that’s exactly what a guy like Mote wants.
The four-time world champion responded with the ride of the day in Monday’s bareback competition, earning himself a pretty payday and a $5,500 cheque after he rode Buckskin Sally to a score of 86.50.
“In bareback riding you’ve got Plan A, and then Plan B is just grit it out and just don’t quit, that’s all you can do,” Mote said. “If you quit hustling and moving in bareback riding, you’ll get slammed, so part of it is trying to win and part of it is trying to stay alive.”
The win couldn’t have come at a better time for Mote, who had picked up $2,500 through the first three days of competition at the Stampede Rodeo and was facing the very real prospect of potentially having to compete on Wild Card Saturday for a shot at going after the big money on Sunday.
If it came to that, Mote was happy to show up, but he’s been to enough rodeos to know that it’s always better to avoid Wild Card Saturday if you can. The win ensured that Mote will have an extra day off, and he plans on taking advantage of that by taking a quick trip down to Washington State to visit family.
“The wildcard round is great, but it’s hard to make it out of 12 guys and be in the top two,” Mote said. “Everything has kind of got to go right, so to win today and bypass the wildcard round, I’m pretty happy about that.”
Mote will be joined by Jake Vold, of Airdrie, who finished third in Pool A with $9,000. RC Landingham, of Hat Creek, California also booked a ticket to Sunday’s big day by winning $9,000 throughout the competition, as did Pool A leader Caleb Bennett, who secured his place at Showdown Sunday by earning $15,000. The rest of the field will be headed to Wild Card Saturday.
Stampede saddle bronc rookie hits Pool A payday
Published on: July 11, 2016 | Last Updated: July 11, 2016 5:46 PM MDT
Hudson's Hope, BC cowboy Jake Watson rode Dark Side to a score of 84.00 on Day 4 of the Calgary Stampede rodeo saddle bronc event on Monday, July 11, 2016. AL CHAREST/POSTMEDIA AL CHAREST / AL CHAREST/POSTMEDIA
As the last ride in the order of go, Jake Watson was at an advantage on Monday.
After a round of poor scores and buck-offs for the nine cowboys ahead of him, the 23-year-old saddle bronc rider was trying to keep his cool and stay focused on his own ride.
“The worst thing you could do is just tell yourself that you have to beat them,” Watson said. “You’ve gotta still try to make the best ride you can.”
Happily jumping on a horse called Dark Side, the native of Hudsons Hope, B.C., managed to spur an 84-point ride to claim the day’s top payout of $5,500 for eight seconds of work.
“Being the last guy, I knew it was pretty open,” Watson said. “(Dark Side is) always good in this arena.
“He’s kind of a handful sometimes but he felt really good today.”
California cowboy wins the day in Stampede tie-down roping
Ryle Smith of Oakdale, CA, posted the top time (8.2 seconds) on Day 4 of the tie-down roping event at the Calgary Stampede rodeo on Monday, July 11, 2016. AL CHAREST/POSTMEDIA AL CHAREST / AL CHAREST/POSTMEDIA
For his entire life, Ryle Smith had wanted to make the trip up from Oakdale, Calif., to compete at the Calgary Stampede.
Then, he finally got the chance this summer and when the tie-down roping championship got started, he just wasn’t performing up to his own high standards.
On Monday, though, Smith finally put an end to his early struggles to pick up his first cheque of the week when he scored the best time of the day by finishing his ride in 8.2 seconds.
“I got called up this spring to come up here and it’s been a dream of mine forever to come to this rodeo,” said Smith, who won $5,500 on Monday. “I felt like I didn’t do very good at all here, I just couldn’t get the ball rolling.
“Today, I just went at it, had a good calf and everything lined up and it just feels good to make a run.”
While the win wasn’t enough to secure Smith a spot in the lineup for Showdown Sunday — he’ll have to finish in the top-two at Wildcard Saturday to get there — it was still a nice payday.
Shane Hanchey booked his ticket to Sunday’s event with $12,500 in earnings from the four days of Pool A competition, while Rhen Richard’s $10,500 also secured him a spot, along with Brazilian cowboy Marcos Costa, who finished with $9,000 and Sterling Smith, who ended up with $8,500.
Watson earned entry into the Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth by winning the San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo in February. It’s his first time as a pro after riding in the Stampede’s novice category.
After four days of work, he collected $11,500 which was more than he earned on the circuit in 2015 as he finished 17th with $9,305.78.
Now, he has a shot at $100,000 and his first Calgary Stampede title on Sunday along with fellow Pool A qualifiers Cort Scheer ($15,500), Rusty Wright ($11,500), and Chuck Schmidt ($7,000).
Wright, by the way, had scored a 74 but was offered a re-ride.
He gladly took it and, aboard a horse named Classic Bear, posted an 83-point ride to earn a second-placed cheque of $4,500.
Scott Cruickshank: Dawson Hay making his famous father proud
Published on: July 11, 2016 | Last Updated: July 11, 2016 6:40 PM MDT
Dawson Hay, left, is following in his dad's, Rod, right, footsteps, as he competes in novice Saddle Bronc at the Calgary Stampede in Calgary, Alta., on Monday July 11, 2016. Leah Hennel/Postmedia
For decades, she’s been watching the Hay boys hang on tight.
So she’s seen some things.
Like the decorated career – four saddle-bronc titles at the Calgary Stampede, eight championships in the Canadian Professional Rodeo Association, 20 invitations to the National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas – of husband Rod Hay.
And its grim end – 2010’s leg-shattering wreck in Innisfail.
Now Shelley is cringing her way through another generation of Hay buckeroos – her sons’ soaring successes and their dirt-biting failures.
The fears aren’t misplaced.
Their oldest kid, Logan, 19, twice broke his free arm last year.
But Monday’s dandy display by middle son Dawson, who aced his novice saddle-bronc trip at the Stampede, should have been easier on Mom.
It was not.
She used to root for Rod’s jackpots.
Now she cheers for her boys’ well-being.
“It’s a totally different ball game than watching your husband,” Shelley says after getting a big squeeze from Dawson, whose 78-point ride topped the field. “You think you’d be a little more seasoned because this has been our life. But no, it isn’t. It is stressful to watch because there are so many things going on at the same time.
“You want them to win, definitely – you know their goals – but I want to hear that they’re OK first. When they’re calling from the road, I want to hear that they’re OK. I actually don’t even care about their score.”
Dad packs a different perspective.
Not only does he remain chute-side, his duties – as proud papa and critical coach – are considerable.
So act skittish? No time for that.
“I’ve been with them every turn of the deal … so I’m quite immune to it now,” says Rod. “Any time they’re riding in a big event, you’re excited for them. I’m not nervous or worried, I’m just hoping they do well. Shelley will slowly become accustomed to it, I’m thinking.”
She is trying to come around.
She’s seen spills. They’ve survived. She’s survived.
And, of course, one of her boys competing here, raising dust in this ring, is hardly a far-flung notion.
“I can’t believe we’re watching Dawson at the Calgary Stampede – it’s crazy,” says Shelley. “When he was just a baby, I remember Rod was riding for the $50,000 (grand prize), and I was feeding Dawson in the stands. Oh my god. And now he’s riding here. It’s quite awesome.”
Adds Rod: “He’s grown up around this, ever since he can remember. He’s seen cameras. He’s seen it from the stands. He’s seen it from the steer-riding chutes. I watched him get on (Monday) and it was no different than when he was getting on in the practice pen. He handles it way better than I did at that age.”
Odds that the Hay youngsters would chase their father – into rodeo-ing in general, into saddle-bronc riding in particular – were high.
It’s what they see.
It’s what they know.
“They loved it,” says Shelley, whose youngest, Devon, 12, isn’t riding – yet. “When they were little, any opportunity they had to jump into the truck with their dad, they went.”
Meaning there were never going to be tennis players or golfers coming out of this brood.
“Nope, nope,” says Dawson, laughing. “I’ve always wanted to hit the rodeo trail. I’d like to be as good as (Dad) was. Or half as good, even.”
So far, Rod does like what he sees.
Specifically in Calgary’s make-or-break spotlight.
“This is one of the places where lots of guys handle the pressure well – or they don’t,” says Rod. “He’s seeing the hard work and the lumps pay off. It’s always a work in progress, but it’s definitely a great day when you’re in Calgary and you’re winning first.
“A day like this will really help Dawson – draw a good horse, big rodeo, things go well. You can’t buy that kind of confidence.”
Pulling blue ribbons out of Benalto and Coronation, the lad has set as a goal the CPRA’s novice saddle-bronc crown – something Rod bagged in 1988.
Which, of course, isn’t news to the clan.
“All his achievements, it’s great – I love hearing about them,” says Dawson, who turns 18 on Wednesday. “I watch Dad’s tapes all the time, old NFR videos and stuff like that. We’ve watched them a thousand times.”
And what wasn’t captured on camera, he witnessed up close.
Behind-the-scenes stuff such as the old man’s ice-cool chute routine.
Focused, yet at ease.
“Getting on a bucking horse, they’re not tame,” explains Rod. “They’re getting ready to go, too. They know when they’ve got somebody on them who’s nervous and upset. So I’ve taught them guys … do everything calm. That way, everything stays calm and your horses don’t get excited.
“Because if one person gets worked up, everyone gets worked up.”
Now, if they can just convince Mom.
Stampede veteran steer wrestler's luck turning
Donalda bulldogger Curtis Cassidy during the steer wrestling eventplanted his steer in a time of 3.7 seconds to win top money on Day 4 of the steer-wrestling event at the Calgary Stampede rodeo on Monday, July 11, 2016. AL CHAREST/POSTMEDIA AL CHAREST / AL CHAREST/POSTMEDIA
To say Curtis Cassidy has ran into some bad luck at the Calgary Stampede would be a bit of an understatement.
After a couple rounds of dud steer draws including one particularly slow animal on Day 1 — “The wrong steer at the wrong time” — the Donalda native finally cashed in and picked up a bit of dough.
This, of course, was coupled with a slight mis-hap with his horse before the Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth started on Friday.
“The first horse I was riding the first day, I had Cort Nugent warming him up and exercising him before I went,” Cassidy said. “And my horse ran off on him crashed into the loading chute. Luckily Cort was OK but the horse was banged up.”
Luckily Tanner Milan’s horse, Smoke, stood in for his horse on Day 2 (Saturday).
“I broke the barrier,” Cassidy said with a chuckle.
Finally, Cassidy switched to a horse named Casey — a mount raised by his aunt and broke by his grandpa, which has only been running steers for three summers.
The 37-year-old has had success on him the past two days.
Unlike Cassidy, an eight-time Canadian champion and is the 2006 Stampede champion in steer wrestling, it had never been to the Calgary Stampede before.
And similar to most first-timers, the horse resembled a deer in headlights and seemed overwhelmed by the massive crowd.
“He was a little nervous (Sunday) and was looking around at everything,” Cassidy said. “I got him in here (Monday) morning and he was good and did what he was supposed to do.”
Casey patiently allowed Cassidy to wrestle his black steer in 3.7 seconds. The blazingly fast time — 0.7 seconds off the arena record (set by Cassidy himself in 2010) — narrowly beat his pal Milan, who had a near-perfect run of 3.8-seconds.
Milan’s second-place cheque of $4,500 gave him a four-day total of $7,000 and tied him with K.C. Jones of Decatur, Texas, for the top three and fourth-placed finishes in Pool A and an automatic berth into Sunday’s final.
Not bad, considering the 30-year-old Cochrane native had only $2,500 heading into Monday’s competition and has been relying heavily on the sports medicine staff.
“I wake up sore every morning but once I get going, it feels good,” said Milan, who is heading to a rodeos in Sheridan, Wyo., and Teepee Creek before Championship Sunday. “I knew I was going to have to be first or second in the round (Monday). I knew I couldn’t be less than second.
“Everything just worked out in my favour. That’s exactly what I needed to do.”
Also joining Milan and Jones on Sunday is Seth Brockman of Wheatland, Wyo., with a four-day total of $15,500 and Tyler Waguespack of Gonzales, La., with $12,500.
Meanwhile, Cassidy’s first-placed cheque of $5,500 wasn’t enough to bump his four-day money earnings into Championship Sunday.
The good news? He’s $6,250 richer than he was when he started and has a chance to qualify in Wild Card Saturday.
And, truth be told, Cassidy could use a little change in his luck.
The past few times he’s had to come back on Saturday, he’s finished third, fourth, and sixth.
“I’ve done good in the calf-roping (at Wild Card Saturday) but in steer wrestling?” he said with a chuckle. “Not so much. I think I’ve made it three times at the calf-roping wild card. And I think I’ve only roped three times in the wild card, to be honest with you. So, my odds in that are pretty good.
“Maybe I’ll change that this year.”