Ranchers show their calm under pressure during cowboy challenge

Rodeo action brought a different level of competition Sept. 6 during the Ponoka Agricultural Society’s Ranch Rodeo.

Rebecca Kingston from Didsbury

Rebecca Kingston from Didsbury

Rodeo action brought a different level of competition Sept. 6 during the Ponoka Agricultural Society’s Ranch Rodeo.

Hosted at the Calnash Ag Event Centre, the competition saw cowboys having to wrangle cattle in teams of four. This was not the usual event folks are used to seeing during the Ponoka Stampede; cowboys had to separate cows from the herd starting with a number from zero to 10 and then move up from there during the cattle sorting challenge.

Other challenges included branding cattle, trailer loading, cattle doctoring and a wild saddlehorse race. Organizer Cec Dykstra said many of the cowboys who competed are ranchers or raise horses for a living. “We do things like you used to do on the ranches years ago,” she said.

Dykstra says fans enjoyed the saddlehorse races and the trailer loading the most because they are faster events at the ranch rodeo. There were 13 teams that competed.

The next day brought cowboys and girls together to compete in the Canadian Cowboy Challenge (CCC).

Depending on the skill level of horse and rider, cowboys had six minutes to take on a number of obstacles meant to challenge the animals and humans. Categories included shooting sprouts, youth, novice and bucking crazy.

This was the first show for the CCC in Ponoka says organizer Ken Pohl.

“It’s to expose your horse to something that you would find on the ranch,” said Pohl.

Events such as this give riders an opportunity to learn important ways to stay calm and to manage their horses in uncertain environments. To help them with that, the group hosted two clinics the day before the challenge and both were full.

Obstacles ranged from opening a gate while on the horse, taking it over a teeter-totter bridge, walking in reverse through a path and even walking through a curtain. Pohl says riders need to learn to trust their horses.

He says this is the most entrants they have had at an event and he was pleased with the turnout. Pohl says this is the fifth year of operation for the CCC, adding “With the interest we’ve had here, I can see this getting to be a pretty popular sport.”

Ranch Rodeo winners:

Team Dykstra Farms

Canadian Cowboy Challenge results:

Shooting Sprouts: Addison McKinney

Youth: Kariston Alook

Novice: Travis Ogilvie

Bucking Crazies: Bill Kewley

Older Than Dirt: Ken Pohl

Open: Robert Barbour

Non-pro: Heather Shandro