Calgary Stampede Day 2 Rodeo & Chucks Roundup

‘DOUBLING UP’ AT THE STAMPEDE RODEO ON DAY 2

 July 8, 2017

Several cowboys managed to double down in Day 2 of the Calgary Stampede rodeo, picking up their second trophy bronze in as many days.

Tanner Milan was one of those, as he won the $5500 prize for first in steer wrestling for the second straight day. The two-time Canadian champion caught his steer in just 3.4 seconds, which was best in a speedy round of action where you had to be faster than four seconds flat to even catch a sniff of cash.

“The steer was known to be a little slower, so I was happy to have him,” explained Milan. “I just had to see a bit more (head start) on him, and it worked out perfect. The steer didn’t run like the other ones, and gave me a chance to catch up a lot quicker.”

Steer wrestling is a game of inches, and it looked like Milan would be bumped to second place when Dakota Eldridge was a tenth of a second faster. But Eldridge had come out a hair too soon, and broke the barrier string, a fate Milan was determined to avoid with his run.

“I knew that steer was really good on the ground and I didn’t want to break the barrier, so I damn sure gave him some extra (space).”

While most Stampede competitors enjoy the sights of Calgary and some down time while here, Milan was able to do something even better to celebrate his opening day victory – some ranch work back in Cochrane.

“Well actually I went home, and we had a lame bull we had to go gather. We went out and roped him so we had a little bit of fun last night, but other than that I was to bed pretty early, and got a good night’s rest.”

“It’s nice to be around home. I don’t get to that much throughout the year, just to be home with the family. It was nice to relax, and do something different other than hopping in the truck and taking off to another rodeo right away.”

Could Milan go for a three-peat on Sunday? He simply grins in reply.

“I’m just going to try and keep knocking ‘em down, and the money’s always nice.”

Milan already has $11,000 to lead Pool A standings.

Mark it a double win for Jess Lockwood in the bull riding as well. The young Montana cowboy tied onto a bull called Chrome for an 89 point adventure, making his grin wider than ever.

“That bull was really, really good around there, and ended up going both ways,” he bubbled. “I knew he would, so I was trying to be real patient. I couldn’t ask for a better bull.”

When Lockwood dismounted and got away, he tossed his helmet some fifty feet in the air to celebrate.

“Yea, whenever I make a pretty good ride like that, I give an ol’ bucket toss,” he chuckled.

But Lockwood was considerably tamer in his victory lap, a day after a spectacular rare-up on the same ride, when the supplied horse didn’t like his bull riding spurs.

“Everyone said ‘keep your spurs out of ‘em’. I said I’m just gonna trot him. I’m not going to touch him at all!”

Lockwood leads Pool A with $11,000.

The other two-time winner was tie-down roper Ryan Jarrett of Oklahoma. With a single swing of his loop in Round 2, he caught his calf and posted a 7.7 second score. But Texan Cade Swor was able to get the job done in the same time, so the two split the prize money, netting $5000 apiece, but they both got a bronze.

Like Jarrett, Swor is also running a young horse at Calgary. He made a few adjustments after their first run, and they seemed to work. Jarrett is the Pool A leader with $10,500.

Barrel racer Kassie Mowry had some tough decisions to make when she got to Calgary. The Texas cowgirl had to choose between two great horses to run. There was Rocco, which she’s had access to for about a month, and her usual good horse Firewater.

“It was the toughest decision ever,” confirmed Mowry. “I came in here yesterday, and they let us practice. They both felt great. My friends and I debated it back and forth all day, but when it came down to it, on Rocco, I felt a little bit more confident about sending him in there, like you need to do when you come somewhere like this.”

They are the first rodeos for Rocco, who’s owned by Robin Weaver, and is only seven. But his rider Brandon Collins has won lots of big barrel racing events on him, so the horse is no stranger to the winner’s circle. Rocco showed it by the speed burst Saturday, with a 17.31 second run.

“I definitely wanted to take advantage of my first spot out,” said Mowry. “The ground felt really good. I switched shoes on him, and I felt like it really held him when he put his feet, so it was a good move.”

Mowry picked up $5500 for the win, but Oklahoma’s Emily Miller earned second placed money for the second day in a row, so she’s leading Pool A barrel racers with $9000.

The $5500 first place cheque in the saddle bronc riding when to Allen Boore of Utah, for an 87 point ride on Sergeant Whitney. But Day One winner, Layton Green, placed third on Saturday, so he’s the overall leader in Pool A with $9000.

J.R. Vezain of Wyoming got his first Calgary cash of 2017, with a top placing 87.5 point bareback ride on a Calgary horse called You See Me. He got some extra motivation from a chuckwagon driver behind the chutes, helping cheer him on.

“Darcy Flad is a friend of mine, and he’s a pretty electric fella. He always likes helping us out, and he’s gets real excited and pumps me up,” says Vezain.

Vezain gets the $5500 for first, but Richmond Champion finished second, so he is out in front overall with a $10,000 total.

Tier 2 Junior Steer Riding wrapped up Saturday, with Tristen Manning of Edson posting 148.5 points on two rides to win the title. Tier 2 features younger, less experienced riders on cows not quite as tough, to help ease the youngsters into the competition.

Bareback riders got each others' backs at Calgary Stampede

LAURENCE HEINEN, FOR THE CALGARY HERALD
More from Laurence Heinen, For the Calgary Herald

Published on: July 8, 2017 | Last Updated: July 8, 2017 7:35 PM MDT

J.R. Vezain, from Cowley, Wyoming, stays on You See Me during bareback rodeo action at the Calgary Stampede in Calgary, Alta., Saturday, July 8, 2017. JEFF MCINTOSH / THE CANADIAN PRESS

Although he didn’t cash a cheque on Friday, J.R. Vezain didn’t hesitate to cheer on his fellow bareback competitors.

Despite posting a score of 82 and finishing out of the money on the opening day of competition at the Calgary Stampede, Vezain proceeded to pump up Richie Champion before his impressive 89-point ride that earned him a cheque for $5,500.

“The sport of rodeo is a very camaraderie sport,” explained the cowboy from Cowley, Wyo. “We’re always cheering each other on and stuff. I like when somebody’s in my ear and pumping me up and he does the same. We kind of feed off each other’s energy.”

Champion appreciated Vezain’s encouraging words.

“I’ve got J.R. in my ear,” recalled Champion, who hails from Dublin, Texas. “He just got done with spurring one, and he’s pumped up. ‘Come out swinging … It doesn’t pay to hold back … You didn’t come here to win second.’ That was the last words I heard before my ride.”

Second is exactly where Champion finished on Saturday behind Vezain, who benefited from his show of good karma with an 87.5-point performance atop You See Me.

“She was pretty electric and felt really, really good today,” said Vezain post-round Saturday of the horse he drew. “I guess a good place to step it up a notch is here for a shot at $100,000, so praise God it worked out.”

Before his ride, Vezain had chuckwagon driver Darcy Flad behind him in the shoots giving him a pep-talk.

“He’s a pretty electric fellow,” said Vezain. “He always likes helping us out, and he gets real excited and pumps me up too.”

Champion sits atop the aggregate standings through two days of competition with $10,000 in earnings followed by Ky Marshall, of Bowden, Alta. ($7,000) and Vezain ($5,500).

BACK-TO-BACK WINNERS

Both Tanner Milan and Jess Lockwood kept things rolling on Saturday.

While Milan finished first in the steer-riding event for the second-straight day, Lockwood topped the bull-riding standings once again as well.

Milan stopped the clock in 3.4 ticks on Saturday to beat his time from the previous day by 6/100ths of a second.

“The steer was known to be a little slower, so I was happy to have him,” said the cowboy from nearby Cochrane. “I knew he wasn’t going to try as hard as some of the rest. I just had to see a bit more on him, and it worked out perfect. The steer didn’t run like the other ones and gave me a chance to catch up a lot quicker.”

Milan has earned $11,000 through two days of action to give him a $2,000 lead over Jason Thomas, of Benton, Ariz., who has locked down second spot two days in a row.

“I’m just going to try and keep knocking ’em down, and the money’s always nice,” said Milan. “Get a couple more cheques, and keep going.”

Meanwhile, Lockwood improved on Friday’s 87.5-point ride by scoring 89 points aboard Chrome on Saturday.

“That bull was doing really, really good,” said Lockwood, of Volberg, Mont., who has also collected $11,000 so far to sit atop the bull-riding standings in Pool A. “He ended up going both ways. I knew he would, so I was trying to be real patient. I couldn’t ask for a better bull.”

After his impressive ride, Lockwood proceeded to toss his helmet about 50 feet through the air in the infield.

“Whenever I make a pretty good ride like that, I give an old bucket toss,” Lockwood said.

RODEO ROUND-UP

Ladies barrel racer Kassie Mowry set a blazing pace to win $5,500 in day-money on Saturday, while saddle-bronc rider Allen Boore needed a re-ride to accomplish the same feat.

Mowry, of Dublin, Texas, was the first barrel racer to compete on Saturday and stopped the clock in 17.31 seconds, which held up as the best time of the afternoon.

“I definitely wanted to take advantage of my first spot out,” said Mowry, who decided to use a new horse named VQ Sucker Punch at the Stampede. “We call him Rocco. I got an invite to come here, and we just kind of teamed up. He didn’t really have anywhere to go, and it was an opportunity for both of us. So we’re here just trying to make money to make the finals.”

Meanwhile, Boore took full advantage of his re-ride by scoring 87 points atop Sergeant Whitney.

“When I knew that was the re-ride, I was pretty excited,” said Boore, of Axtell, Utah, who also won money aboard the same horse at Rodeo Houston earlier this year. “He’s just a really nice horse. He just goes straight out and circled around to the right. It feels really good and one that you can kind of show off your skills instead of one that’s going to try you a little bit.”

Tie-down roper Cade Swor bounces back with big effort

LAURENCE HEINEN, FOR THE CALGARY HERALD
More from Laurence Heinen, For the Calgary Herald

Published on: July 8, 2017 | Last Updated: July 8, 2017 7:44 PM MDT

Cade Swor of Winnie, Texas during tie-down roping at the Calgary Stampede on Saturday July 8, 2017. LEAH HENNEL / POSTMEDIA

Cade Swor didn’t have the start he wanted on the first day of the Calgary Stampede rodeo.

He more than made up for it on Day 2 of the tie-down roping competition as he posted a time of 7.7 seconds to tie Ryan Jarrett for top spot in Saturday’s go-round.

After posting a no time on Friday aboard his horse, Dutch, Swor made some adjustments and picked up $5,000 for his efforts on Day 2.

“I’m riding a young horse here, and (Friday), I just got really aggressive and tried to see where I was at, knowing that I had three runs left,” said Swor, who moved up into third spot in the aggregate standings after the second of four days of competition in Pool A. “This is a big rodeo, and that horse is pretty green. I didn’t know how he was going to take it, so I just approached it as if I was going to try to win first. If it didn’t work, I was going to adjust.

“I got off the corner too fast (Friday) and broke the barrier. Things just didn’t go my way.”

What a difference a day made, as he and Dutch had a clean run 24 hours later.

“I was proud of my horse,” said Swor. “He worked pretty good, and I made a decent run on the ground, so it all worked out (Saturday).”

Swor first competed at the Stampede in 2004, and he hasn’t had much success over the years, which is something he’s hoping to change.

“I never fared very well,” Swor said. “I made the short-round here once without going through the wild card. I didn’t do very good. Actually, it was raining, and I fell down.”

After finally finding success in Calgary, Swor hopes to ride that momentum over the next couple days to lock down a Showdown Sunday spot as one of the top-four finishers in Pool A.

“That’s the gameplan,” said Swor, who’s looking to laying down some roots in Chico, Texas, with his wife, Sarah Faith. “We’re just going to have fun. I’m trying to build a house, so every dollar I win is very important.

“I just got some land right across the road where I live right now in Chico. We’re looking forward to getting home in October after the year is complete. Good Lord willing, we’ll be going back to the National Finals, and maybe if I get real lucky, we’ll win this deal.”

Of course, Jarrett will have something to say about that as he leads the aggregate standings with $10,500 in winnings over two days.

“R.J.’s deadly here,” said Swor. “He’s deadly everywhere all year long. He’s got a knack for getting the start and getting on ’em.”

There’s no denying that Jarrett, the 2009 Stampede tie-down roping champion, loves competing in Calgary.

“There’s no place that we get to go to and rope in these kind of conditions against this kind of prize money,” said the Comanche, Okla., cowboy. “This is awesome.

“I didn’t really have the calf that I exactly wanted (Saturday). They didn’t do nothing on him (Friday). I just tried to let my ability take over a little bit, and hopefully, it worked out, and it did.”

Jarrett commended his horse, Snoopy, for giving him a chance to top the standings two days in a row.

“It’s a little six-year-old that I’ve kind of trained myself,” Jarrett said. “I’ve been monkeying with him for about two years. I’m proud of him.”

He admitted that he took a bit of a risk breaking in a relatively new horse on such a big stage.

“The prize money that we have to run at, yeah, it’s a real big gamble, but I just kind of beared down and did it,” Jarrett admitted. “Maybe he’ll stay good the rest of the time.”

Cory Solomon, of Prairie View, Tex., posted a time of 8.0 seconds on Saturday to finish in third spot. Solomon has earned $7,000 in prize money so far to put him in second spot behind Jarrett in the aggregate standings.

Rangeland Derby rookie Cody Ridsdale hoping to continue family tradition

WES GILBERTSON
More from Wes Gilbertson

Published on: July 8, 2017 | Last Updated: July 9, 2017 8:18 AM MDT

Boys will be boys.

In 1993, on the night his father Glen erased the track record at the Calgary Stampede chuckwagon races, Cody Ridsdale was still a kindergarten-aged cowpoke.

“I think I was only five years old at the time, so I was probably playing on bales and messing around,” Cody admitted. “I remember everybody was excited, and there was a lot of people coming around and congratulating him.”

As the years passed, Glen Ridsdale’s son — the second-generation reinsman is now a Rangeland Derby rookie — started to pay closer attention to the action on the Half Mile of Hell and the buzz around the barns.

Boys will be boys, remember.

“My favourite memory probably would have been in I guess it was 2001, when Hooters was sponsoring him here,” Cody said with a toothy grin. “I was just 13 years old, so that was a pretty fun year.

“And he did good that year. I remember watching him in one of the races, and he won, and I was pretty proud of him.”

This summer, Glen is the guy beaming with pride.

Now 30, Cody is one of two freshman drivers at the 2017 Rangeland Derby, competing head-to-head with Dustin Gorst for the Orville Strandquist Award as rookie-of-the-year at the Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth.

With his wagon tarp sponsored by Paddle Prairie Metis Settlement, Cody Ridsdale completed his work in 1:14.30 in Saturday’s action, shaving three-hundredths off his time from the jittery opening night.

“I grew up watching my dad race here, so (Friday) was really special to finally make it here and go around that track,” Cody said. “I can’t really explain it in words — it was just the greatest feeling to race around that track.

“I didn’t hit me until I come back and unharnessed. We were just washing horses, and I was thinking, ‘I just finished a race at the Calgary Stampede.’ I was pretty excited.”

The excitement continues Sunday, when Glen arrives from Paddle Prairie — nearly four hours past Grande Prairie and about 260 km south of the Northwest Territories — to root for his son.

Glen figures he qualified for the Calgary Stampede on about eight occasions, highlighted by the night that he sizzled across the finish line in 1:14.08, the fastest-ever rip around a circuit that has since been shortened by about five wagon-lengths.

The current standard of 1:08.75 was set by Jason Glass in 2015.

RELATED

“It’s all the horses,” Glen said, reminiscing about his record-setting romp in 1993. “I just made one of them good turns and one of them good runs that they only come once in awhile. You don’t throw them every time.

“I’m sure Cody will do that. I had some good horses back then, and I think he has every bit as good of horses as what I had back then.”

Every bit as much family support, too.

Except that Glen is now rooting on his boy, not the other way around.

“My dad, he was pretty much my hero. I looked up to him. He was my mentor,” Cody said. “Just watching my dad race, I would get so excited cheering for him. Just to watch him here was awesome.

“He did great when he raced here. He was always tough. I look forward to following his footsteps.”

AROUND THE BARRELS

Gary Gorst (Alta Gas & Painted Pony Energy) and Vern Nolin (Dentons Canada LLP) both crunched barrels on opening night but rebounded Saturday. Gorst posted the best time on Day 2, stopping the clock in 1:12.58, while Nolin and Kurt Bensmiller (West Industrial Ltd.) split second in 1:12.75 . . . Chanse Vigen (Wolseley Canada) leads the aggregate standings with a two-day time of 2:25.67, while defending champ Kirk Sutherland (Red Deer Motors) is next-best at 2:26.15 . . . Todd Baptiste (SNF Oil and Gas) didn’t complete his run in Saturday’s sixth heat, with several hands arriving in a hurry to help unhitch his horses near the final turn. Baptiste’s left wheeler was spotted on the ground after the other three wagons had crossed the finish line but was able to climb back to its feet, and all four horses were led to the barns. In-house announcer Dave Kelly later told the crowd there were no injuries to the driver or any of the animals.

wgilbertson@postmedia.com

Twitter.com/WesGilbertson

GMC Rangeland Derby - Chanse Vigen takes the lead and Rick Fraser helps to Make-A-Wish come true 

July 08, 2017

Calgary – Chanse Vigen forged into the aggregate lead Saturday with another steady night at the GMC Rangeland Derby. The 33-year-old driver from Grande Prairie, Alberta is joined by defending champion Kirk Sutherland, Chance Bensmiller, Troy Dorchester, and Kurt Bensmiller in the top five.

Picking up $6,000 in day money on a humid night was Gary Gorst, who clocked in at 1:12.58 in the seventh heat. Rounding out Saturday’s fastest times are Kurt Bensmiller (1:12.75), Vern Nolin (1:12.75), Rick Fraser (1:13.32), and Chanse Vigen (1:13.34).

Racing continues Sunday at 7:45 p.m. The Stampede concludes July 17 with the Dash for Cash, the championship heat worth $100,000 to the victor.

Rick Fraser helps to Make-A-Wish come true
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should you wish to reprint this article, please credit Scott Cruickshank, Calgary Stampede

Want to know how old a horse is in human years? Multiply his age by 4.3. Want to make a bad horse perform better? Get him to the dentist. Want to learn how to properly sit in a chuckwagon? How to hold the reins? How to steer? How to win races?

When Rick Fraser throws open his barn doors, this is apparently the result – a generous outpouring of tidbits and tall tales, all charmingly delivered. Which is what Brian Smith quickly discovered. Brian, 16, and his family – parents Randy and Jeanie Maie; brother Bradly, 14; sister Brandi, 12 – travelled from their home in rural Nova Scotia to visit the Calgary Stampede grounds, thanks to the Children’s Wish Foundation of Canada.

Arriving in town Monday – and promptly white-hatted at the airport – Smith came bearing good news. He was recently given a clean bill of health after being diagnosed with lymphoma cancer 18 months ago. It marked the start of an unforgettable trip, which included a jaunt to Banff. Saturday morning for more than an hour, the Smith clan got the royal treatment from Fraser and his wife Sue.

Right off the bat, the veteran driver told Brian to perch in the wagon box, to take the reins. He patiently showed the kid the proper technique. Fraser then led the family through his barn, showing them all of the animals and peppering the tour with stories – about horses that fall asleep then topple over, about an old horse of his that enjoyed being finger-scratched IN the ear, about one horse he calls “the laziest creature in the barn.” It was quite a show. Later, Fraser explains his attitude.

“The No. 1 thing, make people feel welcome wherever you are. These 10 days … everyone wants a piece of you all the time. You just have to smile, take your moment, be happy with that.”

Fraser also gave the Smiths a rundown of his family tree, which, as chuckwagon aficionados know, is loaded with household names such as Dallas Dorchester and Dave Lewis. He even offered a history lesson on the sport, including the evolution of wagon dimensions and barrel composition.

When Leo Pretty Young Man, of the Siksika Nation, happened to wander by, Fraser dragged over Brian for an introduction. The morning was as fascinating as it was comprehensive. And when Fraser didn’t know something? (Such as when Randy said he’d heard there was a pressure point on a horse’s chest that, if pushed, could make it back up.) He immediately sought someone who did have the answer.

“Young people are the future of our country,” says Fraser, a GMC Rangeland Derby mainstay and a World Professional Chuckwagon Association pillar. “If we don’t take time for them, they’re not going to learn to take time for the next ones. I remember when I was younger; it was always special when an older person would take time to talk to you, even if it’s for a few minutes. My uncle Dallas always had time for us.”

Wrapping up, Fraser contacted Stampede staff to make sure the Smiths would be able to watch Saturday evening’s races from the rails, not the grandstands, just to get a better sense of the power and speed. Finally, he signed posters for the family. As a field trip, this was tough to top.

“Very nice,” says Brian. “It was something else I wouldn’t have done if it wasn’t for the wish foundation.” For Brian, a bit of a horseman himself, a trip to, say, Disneyland was not appealing.

“My uncle suggested (going to the Stampede) and told me to look into it, ‘It might be down your alley,’ ” say Brian. “I looked into it and said, ‘Yeah, that’s what I’m going to do.’ ”

The Smiths’ presence in the barns overlapped with another group's – friends of the Frasers from their home town of Wetaskiwin, accompanied by a batch of curious exchange students. This particular crew, Sue was leading around.

“It is important to us,” says Sue, who blogs daily – travelintrailer.com – about life on the chuckwagon circuit. “Because without the fans and the friends and the family, we wouldn’t be doing it. It’s good to get the people out and to see what we do. It’s not just the race on the track – that’s only about a minute long. People get to come back here and see how it all comes together. The chores, the horses.”

At every Stampede, however, Fraser and Sue find time for a trip over to the Alberta Children’s Hospital. They round up a handful of drivers, maybe an outrider or two, and head over to cheer up the patients. Without fuss – there is never a press release – they’ve been doing it for nearly 20 years.

“We don’t go for fanfare,” says Fraser. “We go for the kids. We don’t need the rah-rah-rah.” Tuesday morning, they plan to make their visit. “It brightens their day,” says Sue, “and it brightens ours moreso. It’s very touching. It’s so hard to describe. We come out of there with so much. The kids really enjoy it, but we come away with even more.”