BY AMELIA NAISMITH
After seven days, the fifth largest rodeo in the world, the Ponoka Stampede, came to tremendous crescendo July 1, and once the dust settled only eight rodeo competitors walked away with championship buckles.
Ponoka’s bareback champion Jake Vold finished the short go with a score of 91.5. “I feel pretty good, a few bumps and bruises but I feel pretty good.”
Vold had seen Stampede Warrior perform before and knew, with his riding style, he had a good chance of winning. “I knew she was going to do her part and it was just up to me to do mine.
“Right from the get-go she, she’s a strong horse and if you stub your toe she’s going to throw you off. But coming in the middle of the ride I knew I was tapped off on her and it felt good,” he added about his championship ride.
Vold knew he was going to have to ride hard, and while his drive and instinct to spur doesn’t always come off positively, it fit Stampede Warrior. “She stays hooked the whole time and I knew if I could just get going on her it was going to work out.”
Vold’s competition, Kyle Bowers, Colin Adams and Clint Cannon, are some of the top bareback riders in the world. “They all ride good, you got the top of the world here. To come out on top was a huge accomplishment.
“It doesn’t matter where you are, when your buddies do good you’re happy, if it ain’t you you make sure it’s your buddy.
“You’re always cheering for the other guy, it’s a good feeling it doesn’t matter who wins. But if you come out on top it feels pretty good,” he added.
With it fixed in his mind that Ponoka was just another rodeo for the taking, Vold was able to keep the nerves at bay. “You just have to put your mind in the middle, envision your ride and make it happen.”
With the 77th Ponoka Stampede winnings in the back pocket of his Wranglers, Vold figures his place at the Canadian Finals Rodeo is mostly secured and he’s focusing his efforts on the National Finals Rodeo. Saddle bronc champion was Jacobs Crawley from Stephenville, Texas, and he was thrilled to kick off his Fourth of July weekend and the rest of the summer season with such momentum and a score of 89.5.
Crawley’s championship ride got off to a rocky start when his bronc refused to leave the chute. “That’ll happen. Sometimes bucking horses, whenever they get in the habit of being bucked a lot, sometimes they learn some tricks.”
After being reset the horse left the chute with a vengeance. “Outside of the chute she was what you look for in a bronc. Like, I mean (she) took her head, jumped, kicked overhead, hung in the air; what a bronc rider looks at and drives 20 hours to go get on.”
Brenda Mays of Terrebonne, Ore. was barrel racing champion, with a time of 17.380, and this year is the second year she rode at the Ponoka Stampede. “(I’m) just excited, I don’t think it’s hit yet. I’m pretty excited and it’s just unreal,” Mays said after receiving her buckle.
Mays had placed 13th in the long go but when another competitor turned out she was bumped into 12th place and was given the opportunity to ride for a championship place.
After taking the first barrel on a horse she’s owned for the last 12 years Mays knew the ride was going to go well. “With the first barrel with him it’s a little iffy, especially in a big, wide open place like this. Tonight he nailed it.”
Bull riding champion is Tyler Thomson of Black Diamond, and the humble cowboy says he may have won the title and buckle but it was travelling partner and fellow bull rider Chad Besplug who came out with best scores after the long go and really won the rodeo. However, he’s still feeling good to have the Ponoka winnings to his name after finishing with a score of 88. “This rodeo’s a big deal in the whole year. It’s a very large step towards making the Canadian Finals. It’s an unbelievable feeling to win a rodeo like this.”
Timber Moore of Aubrey, Texas, was the tie down roping champion with a time of 7.0; Airdrie’s Todd Maughd won the steer wrestling with 4.20 seconds and the champion team ropers were Brett McCarrell of Camrose and Clint Buhler of Okotoks, who won with a time of 5.9.