Alexis, Steele, and I drove up to the stampede city. At the border I had the self realization that it had been since 2019 (before COVID) that I had been north of the 49th parallel. I love rodeoing in Canada, so much so that in 2019 I went to enough rodeos to qualify for the Canadian Finals. Calgary has always been one of my favorites for so many reasons. The money is good obviously, but the timing couldn’t be better for us. We come off the 4th run and usually we are beat up, tired, malnourished, and in need of a hot shower and bed for an extended period of time. Calgary is also the rodeo that most of our families come up for, so morale is higher than usual in the locker room. It is the “break” (if you can call it that) that I am always needing at this point in the season.
My first round bull was a great draw, he turned back into my hand and was up under himself every jump (usually very easy to ride). The only problem is my body position was a little too high and forward for his style. About 5 seconds he reversed the spin and this poor position of mine was exposed. The reversal to the left me hanging out to dry. I tried to cut him off and get back to the middle but that did not happen. No money in round 1.
With the tournament style format of Calgary I knew that I just needed to capitalize on my next two bulls and I would have a good chance to make it back to championship Sunday. I had drawn Skunk Ape, a Kesler bull, I watched a couple videos of him and like what I saw. (Right hand delivery, liked to turn back to the left). Ole Skunk started the same way as always, but around the corner lost his footing and fell down. Re-ride option and at Calgary it is almost always a yes (especially with a 0 on the board). You wouldn’t think it would be super hot in Calgary because of how far north it is, and generally speaking it is very pleasant weather, but behind the chutes it is like the Canadian sun radiates off the bricks that hold the grandstands up right behind us and all of us contestants feel like we are in a microwave. Time to lock in, They told me my re-ride was Airplane something (later found out it was airplane mode) and he was a good one. Perfect. I’ll take him! Deep breath and away we go. Jess Pope helped me get my rope on the re-ride which gave me a minute to get my bearings. Gate opens and bang, Into my hand right out of the gate and was a great matchup. He was a really strong bull for no bigger than he was, but we got along nicely for the round win (87).
Round 3 of my set- Coming into today I had positioned myself well to make it back to Sunday. I was sitting second behind Jared Parsonage of Canada, and he had what everyone is saying is “one of the best bulls in Canada”. I knew it would be hard to beat him so I just focused on what I could control- riding Night Shift of Calgary Stampedes herd. I need to take care of business to ensure my spot in the finals. I had seen a couple videos and talked to the guys.Everyone said he would be an easy 83-85. That’s exactly what he was. Night Shift leans really bad, but I got a good shot at him pretty quickly and the rest was history. I won 2nd in round 3 and punched my ticket into Sundays Championship round.
Banff & Lake Louise- We went up for a little family time for a couple of days since we will not get much of it in the upcoming months. The first day we took it pretty easy, walked around Banff and enjoyed a nice dinner. Steele is a little wild-man. He runs circles around us all of the time and wears Alexis and I both out (she is great about letting me rest and recover). We were both so tired we didn’t do much, but we both needed the rest. Steele showed us the first thing that scares him- heights… We rode the gondola up to the top of the mountain, while Alexis grabbed a couple of snacks for us little man and I walked out onto the overlook. All was good until Mr. Steele looked over the edge and saw how high up we were. Commence the meltdown… Steele has never given us much of a fuss no matter what shenanigans we get him in to (flights, long car rides, time changes, you name it). As long as he is fed he is good, always. At least that is what we thought, this mountain made our fearless little boy lose it like we have never seen before. Finally after we descended and got back on the bus the people sitting around us were so sweet and with the aid of everyone we got him settled back down. (Note to self: no more mountains for Steele, at least for awhile)
Back in Calgary for Championship Sunday- I had a great draw in Big River of Macza’s. Stetson was 90 on him to win Clovis, so I was excited to say the least. I went into it knowing that it was going to be stout, all of the matchups were great on paper. My bull was on the smaller side, but he was still really good. He turned back to the right and spun it up. I rode him as good as I could (even spurred him a little) and ended up with an 85 point score (5th place and crying hole). The top 4 make it back to the finals and I was one out. No chance for another Calgary bronze this year. Of course I was disappointed but it was not disappointment in myself. I had ridden well and did all I could to set myself up for another title. With the pen of bulls being so even it makes it more of a judging contest than a true riding contest in my opinion, and on any given day there were 8 rides that you could have had a good argument for being in the top 4 finals. Today just wasn’t my day. (Congrats to Jared on the win)
I walked out of Stampede Park with my head held high beside Alexis and Steele. I couldn’t help but think what a great two weeks it has been with them. I treated this last 11 days as a mini vacation with my family, we ate good food, stayed in nice hotels and really did have a great time together. As I sit in the airport (by myself) my heart is full. Alexis and little man flew home this morning and boy it was tough to see them go. The only thing that makes it easier is knowing that I will be back with them in a week at Cheyenne to kick of the PBR Teams season. I have a ton of great rodeos this week that all pay big $$$, and I am starting to feel dialed in and ready for the remainder of the season. I feel like I have a much better perspective this year (directly due to my family) and it is making the season and the rides way easier than before.
Thoughts- Alexis has always told me to “enjoy the ride”. I feel like this year, more than any other, I have been doing that. Yes the titles are awesome and I love riding bulls, but writing these recaps have made me realize just how great my life is. I am more appreciative than I have ever been in my life (something I have always struggled with) and this is leading to me being more content. I am blessed in so many ways to get to live this beautiful life. My cup runs over right now.