Ponoka Stampede Week saw loads of rodeo action at the Calnash Trucking Ag Event Centre.
The Central Alberta Team Penning Association held a team penning competition from June 23 to 25, and the Alberta Reined Cow Horse Association’s ‘Summer Spectacular’ show kicked off on June 29 and ran through to July 2.
“The Alberta Reined Cow Horse Association has been hosting a summer horse show at the Calnash Trucking Ag Event Centre for the last couple of years, and it’s been very successful, growing year after year,” said Krystal Meade, the show’s manager and an administrator with the association.
“This year, we were also able to see great competition across all of the different classes.”
These classes start with youth and go all the way up to open bridle horse classes.
“So we were able to see horses at different levels and stages, and it was a really fantastic competition,” she said, adding that all of the champions landed leather jackets and there was also some aggregate prize money for certain classes as well.
In conjunction with the Summer Spectacular was the ‘Canada’s Greatest Horseman’ competition which ran from June 29 to July 1.
“Canada’s Greatest Horseman — the last time it was hosted by Alberta Reigned Cow Horse Association — was in 2018,” she said. “So we were really excited for the opportunity to bring it back.”
Top athletes competed in four events — herd work, steer stopping, rein/fence, and fence finals — for the coveted title of ‘Canada’s Greatest Horseman.’
“They participated over three days of competition, and the highest aggregate score was crowned the champion – Canada’s Greatest Horseman!”
This year’s winner was Dale Clearwater out of Hanley, Saskatchewan, who landed $7,500 and some pretty awesome swag, added Meade.
Clearwater rode ‘Deluxe Strlit Night’ (owned by Green Pine Ranch in Okotoks).
“In addition to ‘Canada’s Greatest Horseman,’ we also had a non-pro incentive side pot — so that made the event more attractive for both open trainers as well as non-pros to show their horses,” she said, adding that a big thanks goes out to the Ponoka Stampede for that particular sponsorship.
The highest scoring non-pro competitor received the title of ‘Canada’s Greatest Non-Pro’ as well a $2,500 incentive and a beautiful trophy, she explained.
“He’s a gentleman out of Philipsburg, Montana — Jason Vietor — and this was his first time showing with Alberta Reined Cow Horse Association.” He rode Sun Reys of Shade DR.
Vietor walked away with a $2,500 non-pro incentive, and he also placed in the main category. His score was good enough to win him another $3,750, she said.
Meade noted that being able to stage these additional events during Stampede Week presented a terrific opportunity for the association and also for folks who head to town for all that the Stampede has to offer.
“We were presented with the opportunity to be sponsored by the Ponoka Stampede in the fall of 2022,” she explained.
”They approached us, and said, ‘We want to make the show even better and a more featured event for people who are coming to Ponoka so they have even more events to go and watch during their time here at the Stampede,’” she explained.
“It was all exciting — not just for our participants but also it was just really exciting to see the stands full during our finals on Saturday,” said Meade.
Ultimately, Meade, who also competed herself in the non-pro boxing category, said the association was very honoured to be approached by the Stampede (and presenting sponsor) and to have the partnership and support — with the other sponsors as well — all the way through.
“They were instrumental in bringing an event of this calibre back into Alberta,” she said, referring specifically to ‘Canada’s Greatest Horseman.’
“It’s also really a privilege — and I think most other competitors would agree with me,” she said.
“I think it’s a privilege to be able to ride horses of such calibre. It shows such heart and passion for what they are trained to do.”