Curtis Cassidy competing on Willy at the 2004 Calgary Stampede. Image: Kirby Meston/CPRA

Curtis Cassidy competing on Willy at the 2004 Calgary Stampede. Image: Kirby Meston/CPRA

Champion horse gets Hall of Fame nod

Willy from the Donalda Cassidy stable to be part of 2020 Canadian Pro Rodeo HOF inductees

By Jordie Dwyer

Ponoka News

One of the best known rodeo families in Canada will be part of another honour this year.

The Canadian Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame in Ponoka has named steer wrestling horse “Willy” — owned by the Cassidy family from the Donalda area — to its list of inductees for 2020.

However, due to the present COVID-19 restrictions and the cancellation of the Ponoka Stampede, a date for the unveiling of the display has not been set.

“Willy” was brought to the rodeo scene by Greg Cassidy’s father and set a record by being named the Canadian Steer Wrestling Horse of the Year winner seven times — in 2002, 2003, 2005 to 2007 and 2009.

The horse has also earned around $3 million and carried four different cowboys to a World Steer Wrestling Championship title at the National Finals Rodeo (NFR) in Las Vegas and Olympic gold medal and six Canadian Finals Rodeo steer wrestling titles before being retired following the 2010 NFR.

Willy’s contribution to the rodeo and the community of Donalda has also been recognized with a statute that was completed through a generous community fundraising effort.

READ MORE: Donalda plans statue of popular steer-wrestling horse Willy

The horse, which is part quarter horse/part thoroughbred, was originally spotted during a three-year-old race at the old track in Lethbridge.

Back in 2008, Greg spoke with Barb Poulsen — now with the Canadian Professional Rodeo Association — for an article and explained that how Willy turned out was a real surprise.

“We had no idea that he was going to turn into anything,” he said.

“He was just one of those horses that just kept on getting better and better. Once we started to use him as a rodeo horse, that’s when he really started to blossom.”

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