Idaho cowboy makes most of miles with win in Rocky Mountain House

Travelling the rodeo trail as a full-time occupation takes considerable sacrifice and effort. Throw in a little luck for good measure and you’ve got a recipe for success. Roper Matt Shiozawa drew upon all three as he competed at the Rocky Pro rodeo on Sunday.

Travelling the rodeo trail as a full-time occupation takes considerable sacrifice and effort. Throw in a little luck for good measure and you’ve got a recipe for success.

Roper Matt Shiozawa drew upon all three as he competed at the Rocky Pro rodeo on Sunday.

Shiozawa, who hails from Chubbuck, Idaho, is one of the best in the tie down roping business. He’s qualified for the National Finals Rodeo six times, and the Canadian Finals four times. He likes roping in Canada and makes a point of journeying north, especially this time of the year. A big win at Grande Prairie last weekend helped move him to third in the Canadian standings.

Shiozawa competed as planned in Brooks on Friday, but then needed to make a detour home to Idaho on Saturday for his grandfather’s funeral. He did that, but jumped back in the truck and drove all night to make it to Rocky Mountain House for Sunday’s run.

And he made the miles worthwhile, catching, gathering and tying his calf’s legs in just 7.7 seconds to share first-place honours with leader Chad Johnson of Montana. The win was worth the biggest cheque of the rodeo, $2,122 each.

Shiozawa figured he drew the best calf in the pen, making it a day when the luck of the draw was in his favour.

“It was one of those situations where if I don’t win here, I really can’t call myself a professional,” he declared. “He was that good. I just had to make sure I scored good, and make a run.

“I think I rope better tired,” smiled Shiozawa. “I got back up here about 9:30 this morning. It was an all-nighter.”

But the dedication to both family and work paid off. Shiozawa didn’t want to miss his Canadian roping opportunity.

“This is a good rodeo association. I like their rules on how they prep their calves. They’re more even. If a guy does what he’s supposed to do, your odds of winning are good.”

Shiozawa will be competing this coming weekend at the Daines Ranch Pro Rodeo near Innisfail.

Donalda’s Curtis Cassidy finds his name at the top of the payoff sheet for the steer wrestling at Rocky, after making a 4.2 second run. But he, too, had to share first place honours, after Manitoba’s Justin Miller matched that time with his run Saturday afternoon. Both earned $2,082.

Miller made the most of a slow running steer.

“It wasn’t the prettiest run, but I kind of hustled through it,” commented Miller, who also picked up $1,277 at Brooks on the weekend. After Rocky, he went to Lea Park — 45 minutes northwest of Lloydminster — and split first there as well, for another $2,774.

“This is the first weekend with my new horse, Grumpy, so it’s been really good.”

Despite the personality trait behind the name, the bay horse Miller purchased over the winter in Arizona has really clicked off the hop. That’s encouraging to the cowboy, who wants to make a business out of finding, refining and selling steer wrestling horses.

“There isn’t very many guys making them, so it’s a pretty good business. I sold a couple this spring, so it’s been good.”

Miller was one of three Manitoba cowboys to qualify for the CFR last fall. Another was bareback rider Colin Adams, and he was relieved to walk away with a win from the Rocky Rodeo, after marking 84.5 points on a horse called, Empty Pockets. Adams ‘pocketed’ $1,418, plus another $550 from his ride Sunday in Lea Park.

“I’ve been drawing pretty tough lately, so I was kind of happy to get something to help me get things going right again. I’ve been fighting my head mentally, so it’s nice to get under something that let me do stuff right,” said Adams.

North Dakota’s Dusty Hausauer was the saddle bronc winner at the Rocky Pro Rodeo, for an 83.5 point ride on the John Duffy horse Patches, worth $1,516; while Shelly Anzick of Montana ran away with the barrel racing in 17.418 seconds for $1,737. She also won the Lea Park Rodeo for an additional $2,425. Another Montana competitor, Nevada Newman, claimed bull riding in Rocky after marking 87 points on the Vold bull Smoke Show, for $1,663. Team roping went to Braidy Davies and Chase Simpson for their 5.5 second run ($1,373 each), while Claresholm’s Griffin Smeltzer was the steer riding champion.

The sun shone for the Rocky Rodeo, and Jack Daines and his family hope it sticks around for this weekend’s rodeo action at the Daines Ranch.

Despite some cutbacks to the number of performances and prize money, the 54th Annual event is teed up to offer some great competition for fans, in the always scenic and close-up setting. The full line-up of current Canadian champions will be contending for Innisfail buckles, while World Champions Shane Hanchey and Hunter Cure are on the roster.

Another fan favorite, Fred Whitfield will be coming, and so will 50-year-old bareback rider Kelly Wardell, who picked up his rigging again this season. Lee Graves is back on the trail, and he’ll be steer wrestling, along with the Cassidy and Milan brother sets.

Performance times for the Daines Ranch Rodeo include a 6:15 p.m. start for the sheep riding Friday and Saturday nights, with pro rodeo kicking off at 6:45 p.m.

There are also afternoon performances Saturday and Sunday, beginning at 1 p.m. with sheep riding, followed by pro rodeo at 1:30 p.m. The Daines Ranch is located just north of Innisfail.

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