Calgary Stampede Day 2 Rodeo Roundup

Mary Burger from Pauls Valley, Oklahoma won the Barrel Racing on Day 2 of the Calgary Stampede Rodeo, Saturday July 9, 2016. GAVIN YOUNG / CALGARY HERALD

Barrel-racing grandma thrills fans in Calgary Stampede rodeo action

More from Wes Gilbertson

Published on: July 9, 2016 | Last Updated: July 9, 2016 6:24 PM MDT

Mary Burger from Pauls Valley, Oklahoma won the Barrel Racing on Day 2 of the Calgary Stampede Rodeo, Saturday July 9, 2016. GAVIN YOUNG / CALGARY HERALD


This senior citizen is not on a fixed income.

At 67 years young, Mary Burger is on a fast income.

The Calgary Stampede crowd roared Saturday afternoon when the rodeo announcers revealed Burger is a grandmother, and she didn’t exactly calm ’em down as she sizzled to another first-place payday in the second go-round of barrel-racing action.

“Several years back, I used to think, ‘Well … I’ve got a little age,’ but I’ve had so many people come up and say, ‘You’re my inspiration,’ ” said Burger, who hails from Pauls Valley, Okla. “When I hear the crowd go, I just get goosebumps all over and I’m really, really proud.”

Burger and her trusty ride, Bo, stopped the clock Saturday in 17.72 seconds, claiming the top day-money for the second straight show and stretching their lead in the Pool A aggregate standings at Stampede Park.

That’s hardly a surprise, since the smiling senior is also running away with top spot in the Women’s Professional Rodeo Association standings.

No wonder she’s still at it.

“I have just always, all my life, been horse-crazy,” Burger said. “It’s just in me. I just love it.”

The crowd, it seems, loves her back.

And the way Bo is running, the proud grandmother should carry her fan-favourite status into Championship Sunday.

“I don’t think so much that he worries about the crowd, he just really tries to please me,” Burger said. “He knows his job. He set a little bit hard on that first barrel and popped my stirrup, so I was just hanging on and saying ‘Go boy, do your thing.’ And he did it.”

Devon Mezei holds off competition to win bull riding event

More from Laurence Heinen, For the Calgary Herald

Published on: July 9, 2016 | Last Updated: July 9, 2016 7:05 PM MDT

Devon Mezei rode 2 Dark 2 C to an 85 and top spot in the Bull Riding event on Day 2 of the Calgary Stampede Rodeo, Saturday July 9, 2016.GAVIN YOUNG / CALGARY HERALD


All Devon Mezei wanted was to have a clean ride.

The 28-year-old bull rider from Carstairs, Alta., accomplished that and more on Saturday.

First out of the chutes in the final event of the day at the Calgary Stampede rodeo, Mezei spurred out an 85-point ride on 2 Dark 2 C. The score held up as the best of the afternoon giving Mezei the top day money prize of $5,500.

“I needed that,” said Mezei, who admitted to having a rough past few weeks on the Professional Bull Riders and rodeo circuit. “I was pretty down on myself coming into here, so I needed that to get the monkey of my back.”

When he saw 2 Dark 2 C next to his name on the draw, Mezei knew that he could post a solid score if he could only hang on for the full eight seconds.

“That was a really good bull,” Mezei said. “My travelling partner Scott Schiffner was giving me a little pep talk before and telling me to relax and do my thing. Just those little things help.

“I knew that I’d probably win first or second on him. I just had to make sure I stayed on. When I drew that bull, probably the only one with any doubt in their mind was me.”

Mezei’s confidence level was so far down heading into the second day of the richest outdoor rodeo on the planet that all he wanted was to have a clean ride.

“I would have been happy just to score and not even win any money,” he said. “Getting first place just kind of reminds you that you can still do it.”

Nathan Schaper, of Grassy Butte, N.D., finished second on Saturday thanks to an 84.5-point ride aboard Kish Me followed closely behind by Ryan Dirteater of Hulbert, Okla., who posted 84 points atop Grey Area.

Through two days of competition in Pool A, Dirteater leads the aggregate standings with $8,000 in earnings, while Mezei is tied for second at $5,500 with Brazilian cowboy Joao Ricardo Vieira and Dakota Buttar, of Kindersley, Sask.

Mezei’s family has competed in rodeos for five generations. He first attended the Stampede as a youngster when he watched his father Dan take part in the bull riding competition.

“I remember just being a little kid here watching my dad,” said Mezei, who’s now competing in his fifth Stampede rodeo. “I was just made to do this.”

Mezei’s great grandfather George Armstrong actually saddled up in the early days of the Stampede in numerous events.

“That was 100 and some years ago,” said Mezei, who’s extremely proud of his family heritage. “I don’t think most of them had one event. They did it all.

“Them guys started this whole thing. I can’t imagine … it was a lot more western back then. Rodeo’s evolved so much today from what it was. It makes a guy proud.”


Seth Brockman keeps lining his pockets

More from Laurence Heinen, For the Calgary Herald

Published on: July 9, 2016 | Last Updated: July 9, 2016 7:15 PM MDT

Seth Brockman from Wheatland Wyoming won the Steer Wrestling on Day 2 of the Calgary Stampede Rodeo on Saturday July 9, 2016.GAVIN YOUNG / CALGARY HERALD


Through two days of competition at the Calgary Stampede rodeo, Seth Brockman has already pocketed a cool $10,000.

“I’d like to keep adding,” said the 33-year-old steer wrestler from Wheatland, Wyo. “I’m greedy and I won’t lie about it either.”

After placing second on Friday, Brockman stopped the clock in 4.3 seconds to finish first on Saturday afternoon in front of an appreciative crowd at the Stampede grandstand.

“Today I got a really good start,” Brockman said. “I thought coming across there, I might have even broke (the barrier). You just need to get those every day.

“I think just I’ve gotten great starts both days. Just momentum – when things are going good you’ve just got to keep it up and keep after it.”

Scott Guenthner, of Consort, Alta., locked down second spot behind Brockman with a time of 4.4 seconds, while K.C. Jones of Decatur, Texas, finished third in 4.6.

Friday’s winner, Tyler Waguespack of Gonzales, La., also had a fast time of 4.7 seconds to place fourth. He currently holds down second spot overall in Pool A behind Brockman with $8,000 in earnings.

After failing to advance to Championship Sunday in his first trip to the Stampede last year, Brockman not only has his sights set on accomplishing that feat, but of taking it one step further.

“I was anxious to be able to come back,” he said. “It’s an honour within itself to even be here, let alone do good. I don’t think you could ever be satisfied, but I’ve had fun. I damn sure want to be here Sunday in that four man.”

His girlfriend was right allowing tie-down roper Shane Hanchey to reap rewards

More from Wes Gilbertson

Published on: July 9, 2016 | Last Updated: July 9, 2016 6:18 PM MDT

Shane Hanchey from Sulphur Louisiana won the tie-downing roping event on Day 2 of the Calgary Stampede Rodeo on Saturday July 9, 2016. GAVIN YOUNG / CALGARY HERALD


His better-half was right.

His star steed, Reata, keeps proving it over and over again.

“I left him off nine months last year, just to be a horse for a little while,” explained Shane Hanchey after his winning run in Saturday’s tie-down roping session at the Calgary Stampede rodeo.

“I really had no plans of returning him to action until my girlfriend, Taylor Jacob, went down to the ranch with me in Florida and she said, ‘Hey’ he’s got a lot of miles in the tank.’ She had to persuade me pretty good.”

His gal-pal won that particular dispute — don’t they always? — and it’s a darn good thing that she did.

Hanchey finished his business Saturday in a tidy 6.9 seconds, tucking a $5,500 paycheque in his Wranglers and moving atop the Pool A aggregate with a two-day tally of $10,000.

“That horse is like laying down in my bed at night for me — I’m so used to his moves and so used to how he does everything,” said Hanchey, whose impressive resume includes two Canadian titles and one world championship buckle. “That horse just makes it so easy to keep these calves standing when I want to and be ready to flank when I get there.”

Hanchey ain’t apologizing, but Reata is making things really tough on the rest of the tie-down roping competitors.

The rodeo world just wrapped up Cowboy Christmas, a lucrative stretch that includes both Canada Day and the Fourth of July, and the 26-year-old from Sulphur, La., made history by stuffing US$32,293 in his stocking. (The previous record for timed-event standouts belonged to fellow roper Blair Burk, who earned just north of $30,000 in 2000.)

Not surprisingly, Hanchey collected most of that cash aboard Reata.

In fact, by his quick math, he has racked up about $72,000 on the 15-year-old colt since he unretired his four-legged ATM in March.

He does, however, need to pay up on one outstanding debt — a nice night-out for his barrel-racing girlfriend.

“Reata just has a really big heart, and he loves it. He’s a horse that just really enjoys what he does,” said Jacob, who is also competing in Pool A action at the Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth. “I think he was kind of getting bored down there in Florida and he just looked like he wanted a job, so we brought him back and started getting him in shape and what do you know …

“They’re a good team, and they’re cool to watch. They’re smooth like butter. But I told Shane he has to buy me dinner, because I’m the reason he’s back. I haven’t seen dinner yet, either. We need to get to it.”

Hanchey has no excuse to cheap out on dessert, either.

Not at this rate.

“It’s been so good the last few weeks,” Hanchey said with a grin. “And with that horse, with how much he means to me and my family and knowing he’s rebounded the way he has … I’m just happy that horse is back to where he loves to be, and that’s in the roping arena.”

Brad Harter bounces back from heartbreak to win saddle bronc

More from Laurence Heinen, For the Calgary Herald

Published on: July 9, 2016 | Last Updated: July 9, 2016 7:38 PM MDT

Brad Harter from Loranger Louisiana rides Rubels during the Saddle Bronc event on Day 2 of the Calgary Stampede Rodeo, Saturday July 9, 2016. Harter took took top spot. GAVIN YOUNG / CALGARY HERALD

A half a point.

That’s how close Brad Harter was away from winning money on the opening day of the Calgary Stampede rodeo on Friday in the saddle-bronc competition.

It kept him up at night.

So much so that it motivated him to have the best ride of the day on Saturday to earn him a cheque for $5,500.

“Every time you come to these big rodeos, you want to win every day and when you’re half a point out of the money, it makes you go back and you’re in bed all night thinking about what you can correct to win the next day,” said Harter, who calls Loranger, La., home.

“You figure out what you need to correct and build on the rest of the time. I just try be optimistic and look at it as giving me a chance to win today and it worked out great.”

On Friday, Harter scored 80.5 points a top Stampede Warrior and finished tied for sixth.

Thanks to some adjustments, the 34-year-old cowboy posted an 84-point ride aboard Rubels on Saturday and the score held up as the best of the afternoon.

“In bronc riding, it’s all about lifting on your rein and yesterday I set my rein down, which is the worst habit to get into in saddle-bronc riding,” Harter explained. “I set my rein down and missed a jump and that cost me from winning third yesterday to being a half point out of the money.

“I just had to concentrate on the middle part of doing my job, which is break it down and make it easy and lift on lift on my rein and get my shoulders behind my hips.”

When he saw that he drew Rubels for Saturday’s go-round, Harter had confidence he could place in the money.

“You either win first or you get bucked off on that horse, so it worked out great,” said Harter, who tried not to get distracted by seeing three of his rivals get bucked off. “When you’re getting ready and you see everybody hitting the ground, you don’t even focus on that. Any time there’s the best guys in the world and they’re all hitting the dirt, it kind of makes you try harder.”

Cody DeMoss, of Heflin, La., and Cort Scheer of Elsmere, Neb., both had rides of 82.5 to finish tied for second on Saturday.

Scheer leads the aggregate standings with $8,500 in earnings through two days of action. Rusty Wright, of Milford, Utah, sits second at $7,000 followed by Harter in third at $5,500.

Harter has competed in Calgary every year since 2002, but has never won the top prize of $100,000 on Championship Sunday, which is something he hopes to change this year.

“My wife, she’s building house plans, so I need to win,” he said. “I’ve been to the (Wrangler National Finals Rodeo) 10 times, but this is the best rodeo in the world. I just look forward to coming here every year.

“It’s a great rodeo, great format. You get to see people that become family after so many years, so it’s great to be able to come here every year and compete.”

Bareback-riding star Caleb Bennett aims to dominate at Calgary Stampede

More from Wes Gilbertson

Published on: July 9, 2016 | Last Updated: July 9, 2016 7:26 PM MDT

Utah cowboy Caleb Bennett celebrates after a 86 point ride on Sexy Bucks during the bareback event at the Calgary Stampede rodeo on Saturday, July 9, 2016. AL CHAREST / AL CHAREST/POSTMEDIA

Another first-place showing at the Calgary Stampede.

Another $5,500 cheque.

Another spin on the victory-lap horse.

And, yes, another meeting with the media for one of the best in the bareback-riding biz.

So, Caleb Bennett, what’s new since … yesterday?

“Same ol’ story,” Bennett said with a smirk.

Not that he’s complaining.

On Saturday afternoon, a date with Outlaw’s Sexy Bucks resulted in big bucks for the 27-year-old from Tremonton, Utah, who has collected $11,000 in 16 seconds of work so far at the latest installment of the Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth.

Bennett was a perfect match for the 1,250-lb. gelding, squeezing 86 points out of the judging panel and snipping a couple of Canadians — Alberta’s own Dusty LaValley and Manitoba’s Colin Adams — by a half-point point apiece.

At the midway mark of Pool A action, Bennett has basically locked up an invite to return next weekend for the richest single day in rodeo.

“I won’t really look at it as a fact that I’ve got a ticket into Sunday,” Bennett insisted. “I’ve been telling myself I want to try to dominate this rodeo, if I can. If that means winning everything, cool. If it means just barely getting by and getting to that $100,000 day and taking home the $100,000, then I’ll take that, too.

“But I want to be one of the greatest bareback riders to ever set foot in Calgary, so that’s what I’m here to try to do.”

That’s a lofty goal, but Bennett — the bareback champ at Stampede Park in 2013 — is off to a heck of a start.

“It’s definitely a mental game. It’s a head game,” Bennett said. “Every time I get off a horse or every time I go home … I know there are things I need to work on and I know there are things I need to perfect. But that’s the cool thing about this sport is those who continue to grow and continue to try to perfect themselves and be better, those are the ones you see excel and grow and prosper.

“Those are the ones that really step up to the plate and rise to the occasion at rodeos like this.”

Of course, every one of his buddies on the bareback roster at the Calgary Stampede has spurred out high-point rides and has a drawer full of championship buckles back home.

This is not an easy place to dominate, and Bennett knows it.

“When they said I was 86 and I jumped the lead by a half-point, I was just smiling and thinking to myself, ‘Heck yeah, that’s what I want. That’s what I want to do,” he said after winning Saturday’s go-round.

“It don’t matter what event you’re in or who you are, if you’re a competitor at this level, you’re here to win. I know these guys are all here to win and it just makes me want to step up to the plate, ride harder, do better and perfect myself as I’m riding so that I can beat these guys because they’re all outstanding athletes.”