People come from all over the world to experience the Ponoka Stampede. But it’s not only fans attracted to the ‘small town – big rodeo’ experience. It’s contestants too.
Dean McIntyre is making the most of his Ponoka Stampede adventure. He’s an Aussie by birth, but has called the cowboy town of Wickenburg, AZ home for nearly a decade. He’s ventured north for the first time, and his best shot at the pot of Canadian gold has come in the steer wrestling at Ponoka. McIntyre made short work of his draw in the Sunday morning run, catching and turning a steer in just 3.5 seconds to shave more than a second off the pace in that round. Then he came back in the afternoon, and managed to handle his steer in 6.4 seconds, to lead the field with his combined total of 10.1 seconds.
Keep in mind timed event contestants have the extra challenge of the famous Ponoka ‘long score’ run, where both they and their prey are moving at a high rate of speed, from a further distance than at most rodeos. But that didn’t phase the laid-back cowboy.
“I’ve been to one rodeo that’s similar to this in Australia and done well there too,” said the 37-year-old who grew up in the outback of North Queensland. “I drew good today, and it worked out.”
“It’s one of those deals that’s kind of a feel you’ve got to have when you’re going down there,” he explained about the tricky timing of the set-up. “If it feels good go; if it doesn’t feel good, pull.”
“I was late on my second one. When I got to going, I had to go hard.”
“I kind of like these deals that are a little bit different, where you’ve got to kind of ‘cowboy’ and ride a little bit better. I’ve always seemed to do good at the long scores.”
Despite not being a fan of cold temperatures, McIntyre figures he could tough it out in Edmonton in November if he was to earn a berth at the Canadian Finals Rodeo. A big win at Ponoka could go a long way to making that happen.
“That was kind of my plan when I came up here. I’ve been up here for about three weeks, but nothing’s come together until today.”
One of the other events to see a change at the top of the leaderboard during the fourth performance of the 79th Annual Ponoka Stampede was the saddle bronc riding. Brad Harter came all the way from Loranger, LA for his eight second appointment with Calgary Stampede’s horse Mata Fact.
“I’ve had that horse twice,” said the 9-time NFR qualifier. “In Hermiston Oregon once, and I was 84, and then Calgary once, and it bucked me off. So it was a rematch.”
Chalk one up for the cowboy. Harter spurred his way to the top of the Ponoka pack with an 84.75 score.
“I was glad I won today,” he chuckled.
“That’s one of the best horses there is. I was really excited to have it here. We were at Reno (Rodeo) last night and had to fly up here all night, so I was really glad to be able to make it in time, and be able to get on such a great bucking horse at a great rodeo.”
“Everybody, when they start rodeoing, wants to win Ponoka. So I’d love to be able to make that happen in my career.”
Utah cowboy Rhen Richard took over the leading time in the tie-down roping, after he bundled up a pair of calves in 17.6 seconds, helped by his speedy 7.5 in the Sunday performance. Rimbey’s Dean Edge is in third place with a total time of 18.3 seconds.
Cadogan’s Clint Laye continues to hold court at the top of the bareback standings, with his early 87.25 mark on Copper Cat. Ponoka’s Jake Vold is sitting third with an 85.50. In the bull riding, it was another early ride that still claims first. Scott Schiffner of Strathmore was 88.25 on Kesler’s Double Dragon, and no one’s been able to match that yet. Ponoka’s Zane Lambert is third with 87.
The McCarroll brothers from Camrose, Justin and Brett, have the best team roping total with 13.2 seconds on two runs. The very first barrel racer of the rodeo, Nancy Csabay of Taber, set the pace at 17.545 seconds, and none of the ladies have been able to catch her.
Sundre’s Wyatt Gleeson is the novice bareback leader with a 77.5, while Blaze Cress of Wyoming is on top in novice saddle bronc riding with his 70. Luke Ferber of Irricana is the high man in steer riding with a 78.5.
In the chuckwagons, Sunday night at the Ponoka Stampede was a scorcher, and so were some of the running times. When the night capped off, Mark Sutherland posted the fast time on the race meet so far with a blistering run of 1:14.70.
Coming off barrel number 4 in the 7th heat, Sutherand – driving the Pomeroy Lodging outfit – placed first on the night by 97 one-hundredths of a second over Gary Gorst. Jason Glass, Obrey Motowylo, and Mike Vigen made out top five wagons on the night.
With one run to go to try and qualify in the top 8 for Tuesday’s semi-final round, Kirk Sutherland’s EMCO Corporation outfit continues to lead the overall aggregate with a 3 run total of 3:47.64. That puts him on top by 80 one-hundreds of a second over Obrey Motowylo. Jordie Fike moves up into 3rd place overall, followed by Evan Salmond in fourth, with Luke Tournier sitting in fifth place overall. Sixth place now belongs to Colt Cosgrave, followed by Rick Fraser, with Codey McCurrach and Mitch Sutherland splitting 8th and 9th – the final qualification spot. Former Ponoka Champion Jason Glass rounds out the top ten overall.
Rodeo action continues this afternoon at 1:00 pm at the Ponoka Stampede Grounds, followed by the wagon races each night.
There’s another performance Tuesday, before the Showdown Finals on Wednesday.