This was one of Billy Laye’s top highlights

This was one of Billy Laye’s top highlights

Rodeo legend Billy Laye heading to hall of fame

Rodeo legend Billy Laye will soon top off his career with the ultimate honour.

A local rodeo legend will soon top off his career with the ultimate honour.

Bareback rider Billy Laye was announced last month as one of the 2017 inductees to the Canadian Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame located in Ponoka. The induction banquet will take place Oct. 21 in Calgary.

“I was pretty thrilled when (wife) Marci called me at work and said I had a phone call coming shortly,” the 56-year-old Laye said.

“I kind of had a thought of what the call might be and it never comes when you think, so it was a good surprise and an excellent finish to cap off a career.”

Laye, who was born in Consort and raised nearby, accomplished some major milestones during the long rodeo road he travelled, which began when he was just 17.

In that first season back in 1979, he won the Canadian Cowboy Association bareback title. He would follow that up the next year by obtaining his pro card, only to do something at 18 years old that many cowboys never accomplish qualify for the Canadian Finals Rodeo.

Laye would go on to make 13 CFR appearances and eventually won the Canadian bareback championship in 1991. However, earlier that year, he hit the big time in both money and prestige by winning the $50,000 bareback crown at the Calgary Stampede.

“I would have to say that 1991 was probably the best year I had in rodeo,” he said.

“It was where I accomplished all of my goals and dreams.”

Billy Laye inducted in the Canadian Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame

One other highlight for Laye occurred at the 1995 National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas, one of his three career appearances at the world championship event.

“Breaking the NFR arena record was great, but it was something that just happened. You never expect something like that,” he stated in regards to him being the first NFR bareback contestant to earn a 90 point ride. “It was special because that was pretty much the last horse of my career.”

His rodeo indoctrination began early by going to rodeos with his father and brothers, watching and thinking it was something he would like to try.

“In Grade 9, I had my goals in rodeo set and that was well before I started in the sport,” said Laye, who attended a couple rodeo schools the following summer and practiced at home before getting on the circuit the next season.

Laye believes there are a few differences between today’s cowboys and when he was competing.

“I think the guys today, like Jake (Vold) and Clint (Laye), are really dedicated to going to the gym to workout. While I got in some practice in the basement, my big workout was working on installing custom fencing,” he stated.

“I also think a lot more of the stock is better than what we had. In our day, if we got three NFR quality rides then it was a good winter. There are a lot of great stock now, but the cowboys are better too.”

Laye will go into the contestant category along with another notable Alberta cowboy, Denny Hay of Mayerthorpe. Also being inducted as contestants will be bull rider Glen Keeley, who tragically died in 2000 from injuries suffered during an event, and barrel racer Rayel Little. Bill Pimm will be inducted in the builders category while B6 Little Six, a Vold bull, will enter in the Animal category.