Some people take a lifetime to figure out what they want to do with their life. Innisfail’s Landon Beardsworth had it pegged by the time he was in junior high.
This weekend he will be attempting to make good on his second trip to the National High School Finals Rodeo in Rock Springs, Wyo., from July 13-19.
Last year, as a Grade 11 student, he drew a bad steer in the second round and his championship ended before the final round.
He’s hoping for a little bit of luck on his side this time around.
“It’s really big that you get a good steer,” said Beardsworth, 18. “You can always make a bad steer good, but it’s not likely going to be the fast time of the rodeo on one of those.”
He responded well to the disappointment in 2013 and came back with a vengeance this year, winning his second straight provincial championship in Ponoka over the June 13-15 weekend. He went sub-six seconds on all three steers, going 4.7 with his first, 5.4 on his second and 5.5 in the final.
He also recently accepted a scholarship to Hobbs Junior College, in Hobbs, N.M., where he will be taking general studies.
One of the big attractions for him there, is the opportunity to rodeo year- round outside, as opposed to just the summer and fall in Canada.
“It’s a good rodeo school with a good rodeo team,” said the six-foot-four, 225-pound Beardsworth. “They asked me to go down and look at it and I liked how it was set up, and the coaches were real good.”
He’s come a long way since watching his father David Beardsworth in calf roping competitions when he was young.
The dream was to follow in his father’s footsteps, but he was introduced to steer wrestling by a couple of local veterans and he took right to it.
In Grade 7 he started shootdogging — steer wrestling without a horse — and by Grade 9 he was jumping off horses.
Now he is part of two different semi-pro circuits — the Canadian Cowboys Association and the Foothills Cowboys Association — and practices in his spare time at his friends’ farms with Blake Gagnon and Wyatt Daines.
He’s seen the success start to come on the road as well.
He won his first rodeo of the year in Tisdale, Sask., and just this past weekend he finished second in Moosomin, Sask. With the finish, he is ranked fourth in steer wrestling in the CCA with 2,591.64 points.
“It started really good, I won the first one of the year and I’ve been picking away every weekend, I’ve been pulling a cheque damn near every weekend I’ve gone,” said Beardsworth.
The goal is to be a Canadian Finals Rodeo and National Finals Rodeo champion, looking up to top bulldoggers like Straws Milan, Luke Branquinho and Trevor Knowles.
A life in rodeo means a lot of hard miles on the road in their Painted Pony Petroleum sponsored Dodge 3,500 Dually, as he runs all over the Prairies with team ropers Devin Wegmeyer out of Brooks and Clint Weston from Cardston.
“It can get real tough, it all depends on the rodeo,” said Beardsworth. “You can go to some rodeos have the run of your life with a three-second run, but at the end of it have rocks thrown at you and won’t make money. It’s pretty tough, but if you go out there, practice lots, it seems to get a lot easier.”
This year alone he has to hit at least 20 CCA rodeos to qualify for their finals in Regina in November. With school taking him away in the middle of August, he has a lot of small towns to hit before then.
This coming week will be one more opportunity to show he can handle the grind.
He will be going up against the best in North America in his peer group, with bragging rights, scholarships and other riding equipment on the line.
“There’s a lot of guys there competing in every event and it’s just straight rodeo for a week and a half and it gets pretty competitive,” said Beardsworth.
“I’ve tried to get focused a lot here in the last week or so, I’ve got winning on my mind.”