Another year past, and another Canadian Finals Rodeo (CFR) — held in Edmonton Nov. 6 to 10 — looming just ahead for the cowboys and girls who’ve earned enough to place in the pinnacle rodeo.
This year Ponoka and area has seven cowboys and a cowgirl who has rode, roped and wrangled their way into the event with the best of the best; which is one of the highest participant numbers for any constituency.
The competitors are: Zane Lambert (bull riding), Luke Butterfield (saddlebronc), Jake Vold (bareback), Tyrel Flewelling (team roping heeler), Levi Simpson (team roping header), Brett Buss (team roping header), Cranna Roberts (barrel racing), Dean Edge (tie-down roping) and Jake Stemo (novice bareback).
Last year’s champion Luke Butterfield is returning to the CFR and hoping to once again win the title, but for him winning isn’t everything. “ (I) always want to win but I try to take each horse one day at a time.”
“I try my hardest at everything,” he added.”
This is Butterfield’s sixth year competing at the CFR and with each return trip, he’s able to better mentally prepare for the honour. “When you’re first there, you’re awestruck.”
Butterfield remembers his first time at the rodeo he was so nervous, he almost blacked out during his ride.
After rodeoing for more than a decade, Butterfield says his mental preparation has simply built up over time. “I just try to stay positive and try not to look too far ahead into the results.”
He competed most of the fall and also feels he’s physically prepared. On his day off, Butterfield makes sure to spend time in the gym as well as ride horses.
This year he struggled a little more than normal and rode his way through an unusually difficult season. “I’d just say it was a good season. I’d say I had a terrible June.”
Butterfield says he usually has his ticket to the finals wrapped up by the Ponoka Stampede at the end of June. “Shoot, I didn’t have them pretty much made until the middle of August.
Vold also struggled with a tough season after he ripped the UCL ligament in his elbow during the Calgary Stampede. However, he didn’t doubt for a minute that he wouldn’t be riding at the CFR for his fifth year. “I always knew I’d be back and ready.”
He was picking his way through the spring, telling himself he would eventually get a good horse under him. Vold says when it happened, it couldn’t have come at a better time and he was able to pick up his season before injuring himself.
After competing there for four years already, Vold says the experience doesn’t get any less exhilarating. “It’s not much different, it’s just as exciting.”
“I guess a guy kind of learns to get more mentally prepared,” he added.
Vold also agrees it’s important to remain positive. “Rodeo is definitely a roller coaster ride. A lot of things can happen that are out of your control.”
Bull rider Zane Lambert also sustained a few injuries this season but thanks to sports medicine and chiropractors, he was able to keep riding.
This is Lambert’s first time making it to the CFR. Last year, he earned the same amount of money but wasn’t able to secure his spot in Edmonton.
A few weeks ago, he also competed at the PBR and says he uses his daily routine to prepare. “I’ve just been riding bulls, I’ve been keeping it sharp . . . I’m not really rusty at all.”
With his latest accomplishment under his belt, Lambert is calling this year his best season ever. “Making it to the CFR, I’m pretty excited about that.”
“I’m just really hoping for a good finals. If I could ride all my bulls, that would be great,” he added.
Lambert says his biggest challenge this year was staying healthy.
One of the biggest challenges for ropers and wranglers can be the livestock, especially if they draw a stopper or one that drives hard to one side.
Those who bring their own horses to compete with also have the added task of making sure their animals are fit for competition, not just themselves.
This year is also the CFR 40th anniversary and an amped up celebration is planned, including the all-new tailgate party held two hours before every CFR performance.