Central Albertans cash in big at Rocky

As the pro rodeo season in Canada moves into high gear, contestants can cover a lot of miles in one weekend getting to events. They’re not always productive miles. Just ask Zane Lambert. The Ponoka bull rider was beginning to wonder if his first June run was all for naught. His last stop, closest to home, finally saw his fortunes take an upswing.

As the pro rodeo season in Canada moves into high gear, contestants can cover a lot of miles in one weekend getting to events. They’re not always productive miles.

Just ask Zane Lambert. The Ponoka bull rider was beginning to wonder if his first June run was all for naught. His last stop, closest to home, finally saw his fortunes take an upswing.

“We went to Lea Park, and I got a re-ride, and fell off my reride. I went to Brooks, got a re-ride, and fell off my re-ride. I went to a little bull riding in Meadow Lake, and rode that bull for eight, and I slapped him. We added it up, and I think I had 30 seconds (of riding) on the board and hadn’t got a score,” sighed Lambert.

Ironically, the Manitoba-raised cowboy was matched up Sunday afternoon at the Rocky Pro Rodeo with a bull named Corona Time. It was indeed a time for celebration when Lambert tapped out 89 points worth of performance, walking back to the chutes with a mile wide grin.

“I’d had a long weekend with no scores, so I was really happy when they announced the 89,” said Lambert. “I guess all my effort was worth it today.”

Coming into Rocky and seeing Montana cowboy Beau Hill at the top of the heap with an 88 mark from Friday night meant it would take a spectacular ride to claim first.

“It did intimidate me, but I just ended up getting a really good draw, the best bull I drew all weekend and it showed on the scoreboard. But you try not to look at what’s on the board. You just compete against your bull and hopefully it beats the one ahead of you.”

“I hadn’t seen the bull before. I thought he was going to be a little weaker than he was. He started showing off there, getting in the air. He turned back to the right and then he had a switchback, and came back to the left.”

Keeping up with all those moves in eight seconds, especially the reversal in direction is easier said than done. Lambert has been working hard to overcome trouble he’s had with shifting his weight and using his free hand effectively in such situations.

“Today felt awesome, to be able just to keep my composure and handle that switch-up move over there. It felt like my riding’s on top.”

The win gave Lambert $1479 a boost in the relatively young 2015 Canadian season. He’s already collected over $5000, and is comfortably inside Canada’s top ten in the standings.

“Hopefully, I can keep this riding going now, and keep the momentum so I can have a good June for once.”

Big Valley’s Zeke Thurston continues his hot streak in the saddle bronc riding.

After making an impressive rookie showing stateside in the winter, including a big win at Houston, he’s come back north and charged to the head of the Canadian class. Last weekend, he placed at all four Pro Rodeo Canada stops, to chalk up $4136. Then he turned in an 87 point ride on a horse called Easy to Love in Rocky for top spot and another $1627.

Another central Alberta cowboy to cash in big at the Rocky Pro Rodeo was Donalda’s Curtis Cassidy. As one of the last steer wrestlers to nod his head, he managed to get one caught in 4.2 seconds for first place and $2076. Count another local talent in for the tie-down roping title in Rocky, as Blair Smith of Wimborne cashed in as the fastest man with his 7.6 second run for $1929. The young guns of team roping, Kyle Lucas of Carstairs and Grady Branden of Barrhead, put a wrap on their event, to count $1524 each for a 5.5 second run.

Bareback rider Kyle Bowers, who recently moved to Drayton Valley, had an outstanding weekend. He split first at Lea Park, and won it outright at Rocky Mountain House, with an 87.5 on Outlaw Bucker’s Open Range, for $1442.

“I actually had that horse here last year, same (Saturday) afternoon,” recalled the three-time Canadian Champion. “I was really happy to have her. I was 83 or 84 last year and picked up a good cheque. But I probably should have quit thinking about last year’s ride. I had a lot of fun on her then, and I guess I was thinking about that when I nodded my head. She pretty much beat me out of the chute and I was playing catch-up for about eight seconds!”

“She had a great day today, but she was a whole lot buckier this year than she was last year.”

The Rocky barrel racing title went to Texan Mary Walker, and her famous horse Latte, who rounded the pattern in 17.634 seconds, to win $2078.

“This was my first ever Canadian rodeo in 2013, and my first one this year,” smiled the personable cowgirl, who won the World Title in 2012.

“This is his kind of pen. He loves the great big pens with the barrels off the fences and he also likes the ground up here in Canada.”

Next stop for rodeo contestants will be at the Daines Ranch for the Innisfail Rodeo, which kicks off on Friday and runs all weekend long.

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