To quote the Ponoka Stampede Association, “It’s not the Canadian Finals Rodeo (CFR) without a Butterfield!”
That was the dream for steer wrestler Chance Butterfield this season. He had enough in winnings and was working to build up his points for the CFR, however, a life-threatening injury almost took that dream away.
Butterfield was at a rodeo in High Prairie Aug. 2 when some fireworks went off and scared another horse. The chain of events that occurred after ended up with Butterfield getting kicked in the chest.
It was a bad hit. “I just hit the ground and I couldn’t breath,” said Butterfield.
Chances of survival fell on a few factors: first was determining the severity of the injury with a CT Scan at the High Prairie Hospital and second was getting him to the Grande Prairie Queen Elizabeth II hospital for surgery.
“Until they started getting blood into me I was pretty close to dying,” said Butterfield when he was in High Prairie.
It was determined he had a ruptured spleen and it was bleeding out. About 12 units of blood were pumped into Butterfield’s system to keep him alive.
Because of the urgency of the situation, STARS Air Ambulance was dispatched to pick him up but there was a heavy fog in the area that delayed the chopper’s landing for two hours, before it was eventually called off.
Buttefield recalls that a plane was called in and its landing almost didn’t happen for the same reason. Eventually crews were able to land and take Butterfield to Grande Prairie, but it was a close call, he said.
In Grande Prairie Butterfield was in the intensive care unit for about three and a half days and then in the regular hospital ward for another three and a half after receiving a splenectomy and a laparotomy.
At this point in the season, Butterfield had captured enough money to guarantee a spot at the CFR.
The healing and recovery started on day 1. Butterfield’s wife, Kenda, owns Vantage Physiotherapy Clinic in Ponoka, and she was a big factor in his healing. While they knew the injuries were serious, they kept at the recovery one day at a time. “Every opportunity we had to to gain ground, we took.”
“I was back practicing about a month ago, Oct. 10,” said Butterfield.
Their goal from the start was to heal up and start training for the CFR if it was possible; and it was. Most of the injuries are healed except for some scar tissue on Butterfield’s right side.
But one of the biggest excitements for Butterfield was being able to make it back and compete in Edmonton. For him it all came to taking care of business.
Butterfield’s focus during the CFR was about the daily steer draws and preparing mentally. While the CFR is over and Butterfield wasn’t able to walk away with a champion buckle, he’s excited for the future. “I’ve got years left in this event.”
He’s already got plans to take in two big rodeos coming up with a big rodeo in Regina and then to the American qualifier in Montana. After that, Butterfield says he wants to get home and build up on the training he lost after the incident in High Prairie.
For this Butterfield it’s all about moving forward and gaining the necessary momentum to be ready for next season.
He’s grateful to the many folks in Ponoka for their show of support to him and Kenda.