Skip to content

Ponoka Stampede bids good luck to local 2023 CFR qualifiers

Ponoka Stampede’s CFR Sendoff held Oct. 25
The 2023 Ponoka CFR contingent pose for a photo Oct. 25, at the Calnash Ag Event Centre. Not as pictured: Keely Bonnett, Logan Bonnett, Justine Elliott, Stacey Ruzicka, Clay Ullery (missing), Macy Auclair, Dantan Bertsch, Chance Butterfield, Lawrie Saunders, Ashton Sahli (missing), Tyrel Flewelling, Ben Anderson, Nansen Vold, Brenda Vold, McKenzie Skeels (missing) and Kaylee Shantz.(Emily Jaycox/Ponoka News)

Ponoka’s rodeo community produces top-notch athletes, which is particularly evident as the local cowboys and cowgirls gather for the Ponoka Stampede’s Canadian Finals Rodeo send off each year.

The Stampede congratulated the hometown contingent of contestants, stock providers and personnel at its CFR sendoff on Oct. 25, at the Canadian Professional Rodeo Hall of Fame in Ponoka.

This year, 15 representatives that either call Ponoka home or are from the nearby area, are heading to CFR 49 at Westerner Park in Red Deer from Nov. 1 to 5.

Recently rehabbed duo Ponoka steer wrestler Chance Butterfield and his bull dogging horse ‘Chrome,’ are “feeling solid” and making a comeback for Butterfield’s second CFR run.

Having recovered from a recent shoulder injury, thanks in large part to the physiotherapy skills of his wife Kenda, owner of Vantage Physio in Ponoka, Butterfield is back in the saddle and in sixth place heading into the Canadian finals.

“The horse is working well and we’re feeling sharp and looking forward to a good week ahead,” he said. “The body feels good … for being old,” Butterfield, who is 37, said with a smile.

Born and raised in Ponoka, Butterfield lives just north of town with his wife and two children. He only left for a few years while he attended university in Texas before coming right back to Ponoka.

Butterfield purchased Chrome two years ago off Clayton More. He let the horse rest last year after he was hurt, and after rehab, Butterfield used him this year and qualified with him.

Butterfield expressed his gratitude to the Ponoka community and those that stand behind “our world class athletes and our rodeo,” as well as his family and his sponsors for their support.

He noted his wife has spent a lot of “blood, sweat and tears” over the years to keep him healthy.

He practices at home and keeps in competition form training at Rip’n Ronnies in town, adding he’s been a “loyal member” of the gym since it opened.

Butterfield dislocated his shoulder twice last year, once at the American, and then once during pro rodeo competition in Canada. It was repaired in October, 2022, then he underwent physio and rehab on it, followed by training at Acumen Clinic in Edmonton.

“The shoulder honestly hasn’t felt better (since) prior to my subluxation back in 2019.”

No stranger to injury, Butterfield made a recovery after a serious injury in 2017 when he was kicked in the chest by a horse — the last time he made the CFR.

Miss Ponoka Stampede 2023 Kaylee Shantz, 22, is competing for the national rodeo crown at CFR 49.

“I’m really exciting. I think it’s going to be a wonderful experience,” said Shantz. “There’s a lot of really great girls going and I think it’s just going to be a very ever-changing, growing, fun time for all of us.”

Shantz said her main goal in running for Miss Rodeo Canada is to represent Ponoka on the national stage.

“This is home. This is where my family laid down roots. This means absolutely everything to be representing Ponoka on my travels towards a national title.”

Having made appearances at 40 or more events over the summer, Shantz said it’s been a long journey towards this goal.

While she joked she tried to track her mileage at the beginning before losing track, she said the Ponoka Stampede board have been incredibly supportive.

“They have backed me 100 per cent,” she said, adding she has loved every minute of Ponoka rodeo royalty.

“Being on the road, you’re by yourself, but you still have so much support behind you. Any event (I’ve attended) has just been incredible.”

After lots of hard work and practice, she is feeling confident about each component of the competition, whoever, she says she’s really excited for the horsemanship part and getting to ride some new horses.

During CFR, she will be at events almost every day, one of the biggest being the fashion show, which raises money for the sports medicine team. All the Miss Rodeo Canada contestants take part, along with some of the CFR rookies.

Shantz is also sitting in sixth place in the CFR anthem semi-finals.

When her journey with rodeo is complete, she looks forward to finishing her psychology degree and hopefully get into a master’s program. She’s also interested in getting her competition coach certification.

She is currently the coordinator for the Rimbey rodeo royalty as well.

A future where she could combine her equestrian and psychology knowledge, would “truly be the dream,” she said.

The Ponoka-area representatives are:

- Keely Bonnett, team roping;

- Logan Bonnett, team roping;

- Justine Elliott, ladies barrel racing;

- Stacey Ruzicka, ladies barrel racing;

- Clay Ullery, team roping;

- Macy Auclair, breakaway;

- Dantan Bertsch, bareback;

- Butterfield, steer wrestling;

- Lawrie Saunders, breakaway;

- Ashton Sahli, bull riding;

- Tyrel Flewelling, team roping;

- Ben Anderson, saddle bronc riding;

- Nansen Vold, stock;

- Brenda Vold; timer;

- McKenzie Skeels, Miss Rodeo Canada, and

- Shantz, Miss Ponoka Stampede.

READ MORE: Canadian Finals Rodeo leaving Red Deer

Miss Ponoka Stampede Kaylee Shantz and Ponoka Stampede president Jason Cline. (Emily Jaycox/Ponoka News)

Emily Jaycox

About the Author: Emily Jaycox

I’m Emily Jaycox, the editor of Ponoka News and the Bashaw Star. I’ve lived in Ponoka since 2015 and have over seven years of experience working as a journalist in central Alberta communities.
Read more