Outrider Eddie Melville is not ready to give up riding despite multiple injuries. STUART GRADON STUART GRADON / CALGARY HERALD
Eddie Melville was told he had a screw loose.
That came as no surprise.
“Yeah, big news,” Melville quipped. “Everybody already knew that.”
Good thing the veteran outrider has a good sense of humour.
He needed it over the past year.
He suffered a badly broken leg last year at the Battle of the North in Dawson Creek, B.C.
“It was after the races,” Melville said of the Aug. 9 accident. “And it was a new horse.
“He worked good in the races but when I went and got him to ride him back to the barns, he was a little bit hot.
“He stopped, took one step backwards and flipped over backwards right on top of me. It snapped my femur right in half (just above the knee).”
The Calgary product underwent surgery and spent a few weeks in the hospital.
Less than a month later, back in Calgary, doctors discovered his leg was not healing at the proper angle.
So Melville went back under the knife. Doctors re-broke the leg and straightened things out.
But it still didn’t heal correctly and doctors re-broke the leg yet again in March.
“This time they put a rod in,” Melville said. “That pretty much took away any chance I had of outriding again this year.
“I was hoping to make it back in the saddle again this year.”
Then, a couple of weeks ago, that screw came loose from one of the plates in his leg and had to be removed.
The 44-year-old has already lasted longer than most in the outriding pen. It is a young man’s game.
But Melville, who has rode at 25 Rangeland Derbys, is determined to go out on his own terms – on the back of a horse, not a stretcher.
“I got on my first horse in Ponoka (last week) and swung on, outrider-style,” Melville said. “Just to see if I could do it.
“It was big for me.”
Melville, the grandson of the late legendary driver Orville Strandquist, has his sites set on next year’s Calgary Stampede.
“There’s a time to retire,” Melville said. “But it’s in my blood and I love it.
“I’d like to do it one more time. It makes no sense, none, but I got bit by this sport and it’s hard to get un-bit. I’d love to go out at the Stampede.
“Whether or not that happens, I don’t know.”
Don’t bet against him.
GORST MOVES TO THE TOP
Gary Gorst is a threat off any barrel.
The veteran driver had the fourth-fastest run on opening night when he started off Barrel 1.
He was even quicker on Saturday when he skinned the No. 2 barrel and took his BD&P Put the Boots to Hunger/Fluor wagon around the track in 1:16.57, tops on Night 2.
“They’ve been running nice,” Gorst said after moving to the top of the aggregate leaderboard.
It’s hardly a surprise to see the Meadow Lake, Sask., driver at the top of the pile.
He’s been inside the top-10 in the world standings for most of the season.
And he’s qualified for Semifinal Saturday in each of the last four years, making it into a pair of dashes.
All that’s left is getting his mitts on that $100,000 cheque.
“That would be sweet,” Gorst understated.
He put his long barrel outfit together last year, moving a six-year-old horse, Generally Ours, from the wheel to the left lead.
From there, everything has clicked.
“We probably would have had four or five day-money runs if it weren’t for penalties,” Gorst said.
High River’s Jason Glass (Birchcliff Energy) was second on the night with a 1:17.16 followed by Darcy Flad (Kane’s Harley Davidson) at 1:17.42. Mark Sutherland (Cowboys Casino Posse; 1:17.54) and Kris Molle (Visit Lethbridge.com; 1:17.57) rounded out the top five on the night.
ON THE AIR
Catch all the action on Sportsnet West, Shaw TV and on radio at AM700 The Light and 147 RURAL Radio on satellite (WPCA crew) and AM910 (CPCA crew).