Bull riders are no strangers to challenges. After all, they do believe their 170 pounds can outmuscle a 1700-pound bovine for at least eight seconds. But Tyler Pankewitz came to the Daines Ranch Saturday night facing an extra hurdle or two.
Take, for instance, the fact he has a broken foot.
It happened on the May long weekend at a rodeo in Cloverdale, B.C., and Pankewitz hobbled around on it for several weeks before getting it checked. It’s an arch bone, so he contends it doesn’t really affect his riding. But it was the treatment that seemed to do more damage than good.
“I’m sore as heck,” admitted the Ponoka cowboy.
“I got put in a walking cast, but I threw that away because it was putting my hips out, being so lopsided by walking around on it. I’ve just a brace on my foot, and it seems to be working better.”
“My back actually hurts more than my foot.”
But that didn’t stop Pankewitz from strapping his rope on a Calgary Stampede bull called Uptown Funk.
“Once I climb in that chute, I don’t really feel anything. I just focus on what I’ve got to do, and stay to my job, and feel it all after, when I hit the dirt.”
“Right now I’ve got to show up and focus on getting loosened up. When you’re this sore, you’ve got to get limber, especially when you’re over 30 as a bull rider. You don’t feel as good as when you’re 20!”
The bull power at the Innisfail rodeo was dominating, with only two of twenty riders before Panekwitz making the whistle. And his opponent tried a little intimidation before they even entered the arena.
“He wasn’t very good in the chute. He wanted to keep laying down and jumping up, and he hooked my outside foot right out of the gate. I didn’t think it was going to be very good from there. He wanted me in the well the whole time, but I leaned over on that outside shoulder and got sitting up pretty.”
It was as ‘pretty’ as a bull ride gets, and the judges handed out 86 points. That score held up through Sunday’s final performance, giving Pankewitz the first place cheque of $2,173. Add to that some extra ‘ground money’ because only five bull riders got a mark at Innisfail, and you’ve got some of the best pain medication in rodeo.
It will also move Pankewitz into Canada’s top five for the season. That’s encouraging, because just over a year ago he dislocated his shoulder and had to sit out the rest of the season after surgery to repair it.
When he came back at the end of April, he was ready. He stayed on his first bull, but then went through a stretch when he was lodged among the buck-off crowd. Finally, at Leduc earlier this month, he broke the ice, and placed second, following that up with a win at Brooks as well.
“Now that I’ve got the feeling of staying on again, it seems to be rolling, and hopefully it stays this way,” grinned Pankewitz.
A North Dakota cowboy claimed the bronze award in the saddle bronc riding at the 56th Daines Ranch Rodeo. Dusty Hausauer was the victor on Calgary’s famous horse Stampede Warrior, turning in an 86 point performance Sunday afternoon, for $2,214.
“I got on her at Hermiston (OR) a couple years ago and I didn’t ride her very good,” said Hausauer, who was the Canadian champion in 2008. “I was really nervous today because you don’t draw these horses every day, a horse of that caliber that they win so much on. You’ve got to really take advantage when you do draw them.”
“I gave her more bronc rein, which helped me keep my shoulders back a little bit. Last night I was in Reno, and I started a horse very well, and didn’t finish it as well. So today I wanted to really improve, and finish the horse better.”
While rodeo cowboys always want to ride well for the fans, there were plenty of past bronc riding champions like Glen O’Neill and Rod Hay enjoying the Innisfail hospitality, which adds a little extra incentive.
“That’s why I really wanted to ride. I didn’t want just an ‘all-right’ ride. I wanted to ride very well because Glen’s been 95 in this arena, Roddy’s been, I’d hate to guess how many points every year he’s been in this arena. There’s a lot of history here. This bronze means a lot to me.”
Jim Berry of Rocky Mountain House had to get on three horses in the same event (with rerides) but it was worth it, because his 84-point score netted him second place and $1,818.
Four-time Canadian champion Dusty LaValley of Bezanson came close to picking up another Innisfail bareback title when he was 87 points Sunday afternoon on Reckless Margie. But the extra half point Caleb Bennett earned Friday night was enough to give him the edge, and the first place payout of $2,185. LaValley earned $1,794 for second place in an event where it took 84.5 points to even earn a last place paycheque.
It was an Oklahoma mother-daughter duo that ran away with the biggest money in the barrel racing. Cayla Melby, who’s just 18, made a blistering run of 15.634 seconds right in the middle of one of the downpours that broke up the sunshine Sunday afternoon, worth $2,745. Then her mother, Jane, came out and raced to second place in 15.778 seconds. Hometown favorite Sydney Daines wasn’t far behind, finishing in fourth place.
The steer wrestling did speed up, and it was Dallas Frank who claimed first place with a 4.4 second run, adding $2,305 to his season’s tally.
“It’s been up and down,” said the Stony Plain cowboy, about his year to date.
“I’ve been picking away at a few cheques. A guy always wants to do better but this will maybe kick it off. There’s lots of good rodeos coming up, so hopefully it all works out good.”
Jeremy Harden of Castor did wind up in second with his 4.8 second run from opening night, with Donalda’s Curtis Cassidy in third.
No one was able to better the 8.4 second tie-down roping run from Utah’s Rhen Richard in Thursday’s slack, so he took home $2,178 for top place, while the team roping honors went to southern Alberta cowboys Steele Depaoli and Kasper Roy for their 5.7 second run. Manitoba’s Bailey Plaisier won the novice bareback with a 77, while Chase Zweifel of Saskatchewan took the novice saddle bronc with a 75. Steer riding finished with a 73 point tie between Dixon Tattrie of Youngstown and Justin Arksey of Sylvan Lake.
The pro rodeo season in Canada heats up now, with action this weekend in Sundre, High River and Wainwright. The 80th Ponoka Stampede gets rolling with seven days of rodeo June 27th at 6:30 pm. The WPCA chuckwagons start June 28th. There’s also the richest one day PBR Canada bull riding event happening in Ponoka June 25th, featuring the likes of PBR stars Tanner Byrne and Aaron Roy.