Having cowboys and wild animals together can bring only one result — a timed event rodeo to set the ground shaking.
The ag event centre was host to a weekend of rodeo action March 29 to 31. This was the first Timed Event Championship organized by Trevor Jones and he feels things went well. “We had a really good response. All the cowboys were happy.”
This is the first rodeo Jones has put together and he believes organization was key in how the weekend went. “I had it pretty organized.”
He credits Ponoka Ag Event Centre Society president Terry Jones for helping him with the weekend and is grateful for all the support he received. His hope is to continue providing events such as this and see them growing each year with more people buying tickets for the short go.
There was a total payout of $28,000 during the timed events March 29 and the Spring Thaw Team Roping held on Saturday and Sunday had a payout of $45,000, explained Jones.
The top 15 competitors had a chance to compete in the short go Friday night after a hard day of barrel racing, steer wrestling, tie down roping and team roping. There were also peewee and junior barrel racers.
Many Ponoka competitors made it to the short go round competing against Canadian Finals Rodeo calibre cowboys such as Cody Cassidy, Bailey Milan and Suzanne de Paoli, stated Jones.
Bulldogger Craig Weisgerber enjoyed competing in Ponoka. He made the short go but was unable to place.
“It’s always a treat to get to perform for everybody in Ponoka,” he said. “Any day to bulldog is a good day.”
Weisgerber practices twice a week if he can and looks forward to the upcoming season.
Bailey Milan from Cochrane won the steer wrestling timed event with 4.2 seconds in the long go and 4.6 seconds in the short go. He credits Ponoka as an area to keep his practicing up. “This is about the only place you can go.”
Trygve Pugh is another bulldogger from Ponoka who didn’t make the short go but enjoyed the chance to be a part of the experience. He travelled down to the United States to take part in a few rodeos during the winter to keep competing. “Winning and doing better keeps me motivated.”
The money helps too but his main focus is to get better.
Brock Butterfield made it to the short go but broke the barrier and received a no time for his efforts. “It’s a challenge when you’re dealing with animals.”
“If it was easy everybody would do it,” he added.
Winner of the barrel racing was Kerri Babcook from Warburg, who has been barrel racing for the last 30 years. She trains horses for barrel racing and credits her experiences for doing well. “The more you do it, the better you get.”
There were three high school tie down ropers who made it to the short go: Colten Foster, Ben Robinson and Blair Smith. They were given one second off their time and were in the same category as Curtis Butterfield, Bailey Milan and Mark Nugent.
Robinson is from Innisfail and has been tie down roping since he was young. “I’ve been competing with these older guys for a long time.”
He scored a no time in the short go but enjoyed the experience. Robinson now has his professional permit this year and just competed in his first professional rodeo in Camrose a few weeks ago.
Trick riders perform
The Young Gunz Trick Riding team performed and showed off their acrobatics on horses. Cooper Resch, 11, Cora Croteau, 8, and Avery Aleman, 10, were hanging off their ponies in all manner of tricks to wow the crowd.
Organizer Allison Croteau said trick riding is a fulltime job for the riders. They practice every two weeks and have been learning the tricks of the trade from Jerri Duce of the Duce sisters. Her daughter, Cora, always wanted to perform on horses and Croteau asked to start training Cora at four. “She’s probably the youngest trick rider in Alberta.”
This is the second year the group has been performing and they already have 10 bookings with more calls coming in for the summer.
“It’ll probably never really end,” said Croteau.
She is unsure what the future will bring for the team but the kids “have big plans.” Cora wants to eventually perform in the Canadian Finals Rodeo and the National Finals Rodeo in the United States.
Croteau credits all the parents and kids for making their group operate so well. “It takes all three kids and all three families to do the act.”
Timed event results
Tie down roping two head average winners:
• First: Riley Warren.
• Second: Darren Dublanko and Mark Nugent.
• Third: Randy Smith.
Steer wrestling two head average winners:
• First: Bailey Milan.
• Second: Lucas Parker.
•Third: Matt Richardson.
Team roping open average winners:
• First: Brett Buss and Riley Warren.
• Second: Clint Weston and Devon Wigemyr.
• Third: Clint Buhler and Rocky Dallyn.
1D barrel racing winners:
• First: Corina Dixon on Easy.
• Second: Kayley Blair on Famous.
• Third: Suzanne Depaoli on Binger.