It was a night of bulls, broncs and a battle of the cowboys as 36 competitors attended the Calnash Ag Event Centre’s New Year’s Eve Bucking Bash in hopes of winning the glory.
On the saddlebronc side, young cowboy Layton Green of Meeting Creek beat out 11 other competitors and took the short go championship round with 79 points.
Each short go took the top eight cowboys, and in the saddlebronc competition, Green rode along Zeke Thurston, Lane Watt, Ricky Warren, Wyatt Thurston, Lane Cust, Coleman Watt and Call Marr.
For the saddlebronc riders, there were two rides in the long go. On his first horse Green scored 69.5 and heading into the short go his score was an 82.
“My first horse wasn’t very good,” said Green.
At the beginning of his second ride, the horse came out backwards but both horse and cowboy finished the eight seconds strong.
Heading into the championship round, Green says he was trying to keep his mind neutral. “I don’t really think about it, I just do what I’ve got to do.”
Green has been living with rodeo legend Rod Hay, who served as producer for the broncs side of the competition, and that is how he got involved with the New Year’s show.
“I felt like I did pretty good. I felt like I could improve some things,” said Green, referring to his performance.
Ponoka’s own Zane Lambert won the bulls competition with a championship score of 88 — just a half a point above the next closest finish — and an 81 in the long go.
In the long go, Lambert followed a ride that ended in injury after Cole Young’s face connected with the bull. Young was on the ground for several minutes before being helped out of the arena by his fellow competitors.
In order to ride after seeing a friend injured Lambert says cowboys have to stay tough, mentally. “You have to be able to block that out . . . you have to be able to handle stuff like that.”
The Bucking Bash was also Lambert’s first competition after a month and a half break. “I needed to get on something.”
For the new year Lambert also brought along some new equipment, including a bull rope, which almost cost him his win. “My hand almost slipped out at the end. But the bull had slowed a bit by then.”
For the long go, Lambert had already seen his bull perform at the Canadian Finals Rodeo. “I had something that could buck me off, so I was good.”
He had not encountered his short go bull before, but was told by contractor Flying High Rodeo Co. that is was the meanest bull available.
“I didn’t know what to expect when I nodded my head,” said Lambert. He says he tries not to think about bulls with a reputation like that until the ride is over.
One of the last to ride in the championship round, Lambert was thrilled when his name was announced as the winner. “I was pretty excited. When you ride a bull you can’t see how the ride looked,” he recalled.
“I feel like I have some confidence for some of my big events coming up,” he added. On Jan. 1 Lambert travelled to Baltimore, MD as his first step in the eight-week Built Ford Tough Professional Bull Riders Series.
The other cowboys riding in the bulls short go were Brian Hervey, Justin Lloyd, Ken Siemens, Wacey Finkbeiner (Ponoka), Young, Casey Berg and Tyler Pankewitz, who did not have two qualified ride and was in on time.
Bull riding producers for the event were Nanson Vold and Duane Robinson.
As for the New Year’s Eve show itself, Lambert felt the ag centre hosted a worthy event with balanced mix of veteran riders and younger up and coming stars. “I think it was a really good quality event.
The Bucking Bash also allowed competitors to start with 2015 rodeo season as point earned there counted.
The event did not just serve as a competition for the cowboys, as the stock contractors were also competing to see who had the top animals and Frank Wyzykoski took home the title.