High school rodeo performers from far and wide gathered in Ponoka over the weekend for the Battle River High School Rodeo.
Even though barrels were tipped, calves dodged right when the rope went left, and there were no bareback riders who qualified for a buckle, the riders all had one thing in common; they were having a great time.
Grade 12 cowboy, Nick Smith says his favorite part of rodeoing is the friends he’s made along the way. Smith has been riding in high school rodeos for the last three years and rode in Wrangler rodeos before that.
“My dad did it, so I just fell into place,” Smith said. “It’s a lifestyle now.”
Smith has been competing in rodeos all his life and plans to continue after graduating.
As well as working, Smith hopes to one day be named one of Canada’s top 10 team ropers.
Like Smith, most rodeo competitors grew up in the saddle.
Keely Bonnett has been competing in rodeos for seven years, three of those years in high school rodeos.
Although they didn’t compete in the same events, Bonnett is following in his mother’s rodeo footsteps.
Bonnett started competing in team roping and tie down roping when he first started rodeoing and he picked up steer wrestling two years ago.
His teacher at the rodeo academy encouraged him to compete in the event but he likes team roping best.
“I practice every day and it’s fun to ride with a partner,” Bonnett said.
Even when he doesn’t perform well Bonnett still loves the sport. “I just try to stay positive and keep my head on straight. I have to remember I’m not here to beat everyone, they’re here to beat me.”
Bonnett is not the only cowboy who keeps coming back when the going gets tough. Chad Gulick had problems. He was able to earn a few points Saturday in tie down roping but his heeler missed the mark in the team roping.
Gulick ruefully explained Sunday wasn’t much better. “There’s always another rodeo next weekend.”
When the weather turns too cold to rodeo Gulick doesn’t stop, he just turns to jackpots.
Despite not winning a buckle, Gulick likes the Battle River High School Rodeo. “It’s a good place to start if you want to rodeo in the future. It’s a family event.”
Pole Bending – Cassidy Hollingsworth
Steer Wrestling – Trey Purdie
Breakaway Roping – Brittainy Smith
Tie-down Roping – Blair Smith
Goat Tying – Shayna Gagnon
Barrel Racing – Kashley Seitz
Team Roping – Lance Gordon and Trey Purdie
Bull Riding – Clayton Russnak
Bareback Riding – no qualified rides
Saddle Bronc – Justin Graham