Curtis Cassidy has done a whole lot of winning this season.
He finished the season as the top steer wrestler in both Canada and the world, and on Monday he picked up a beautiful bronze for winning the Alberta championship in steer wrestling for 2010.
As much success as the 32-year-old cowboy has had over his 13-year pro career, he never gets tired of picking up awards. Especially not bronze ones.
“It’s one of the nicest ones we get all year long,” commented the Donalda cowboy, after accepting the trophy during the Red Deer presentations.
“It’s basically the same kind of award you get for winning the Calgary Stampede. I always try and get to everything I can in Alberta just to win the circuit. It’s prestigious because I’m from Alberta, but just to have the bronze is something too.
“It’s special to come here and get one.”
Cassidy heads to Edmonton this week to compete in two events at the Canadian Finals Rodeo.
In the steer wrestling, his season earnings sit at $32,678, giving him a $9,600 edge over the second place finisher, Straws Milan.
Season earnings are kept in the calculations now towards the championship finish.
But Cassidy will also be nodding his head in the tie-down roping, having finished the season 11th in his other specialty event.
Coming in on top is always nice, but Cassidy has been around the game long enough not to take anything for granted. So he knows a steer wrestling championship for 2010 is not a slam dunk yet.
“I mean, you can win the world or the Canadian Finals coming in last or coming in first. It all boils down to you have to have a good Finals. You’ve got to cross all your t’s and dot all your I’s to have good Finals. And sometimes it still doesn’t even happen. But you’ve got to go in there with a positive attitude and you have to be on a good horse, bottom line.”
Fortunately, Cassidy has plenty to choose from there, with the family stables deep in quality choices.
“I feel really good about the horses I’ve got at home, so I feel good going into the CFR.”
Cassidy admits he’s made a conscious effort this year to focus on being rodeo smart, and not just needing to be top of the heap.
“Sometimes you get so wrapped up in just trying to get from point A to point B that you forget about what you’re even doing sometimes. I know this year I won money at a lot of rodeos, but I didn’t win first at a lot compared to some other years.
“It does add up at the end of the year. To have a good season like I’ve had, and not be winning firsts at all the big rodeos, it means you’re placing a lot, and that’s what I’ve tried to do this year. If 3.4 (seconds) is winning it, and 4.6 is winning second, I just went out there and tried to win a good cheque, not try and be 3.3 on a steer that’s only a four- or five-second steer.”
“When I was younger, that was the mentality I had, it was first or nothing every single day. Sometimes it worked good, some days, not so good,” he chuckled.
“But just watching my dad and other guys over the years and how you kind of evolve and change as you get older, and you’re supposed to get smarter, so I hope I am!”
Cassidy will be in the running for three Canadian buckles, because he’s also leading the charge for the high point championship.
But one cowboy is going for a potential four titles, and that’s Cochrane’s Steven Turner.
He’s a bull rider, as well as a bulldogger, so is also eligible for the all-around Canadian honors.
Turner was in Red Deer as well, to pick up the bronze for the all-around honors for the Alberta circuit, which ironically, organizer Jack Daines made sure was actually a bulldogger at work.
“I’ve won lots of bronzes before, but this is my first steer wrestling one,” grinned the easy-going cowboy.
“It’s pretty nice. It was probably the best year I’ve had, being able to make the Finals in both ends, and it’s my first year making it there in the steer wrestling.
“I’m ready for this week. I’m healthy this year, finally, for the first time in about three years, well, healthy as I can be, I guess.”
Turner isn’t worried at all about the extra work of preparing and competing in two events at the CFR.
“I think it’s going to be nice, because that’s all I do all year long anyways. Before I just had to kind of sit around all the time and watch it from the other end, so it will be nice to be over there competing. I may not have so much time to think about the bull riding, which might be good.”
Turner’s had a stellar season, earning well over $41,000 in his two events. But he’s not finished yet.
“That’s the big thing, try to get as much money as you can at the Finals.
“You can win more money there in one day there than you could in three months during the summer. So hopefully I can capitalize at the Finals. That would be great.”
The Alberta champion in the bull riding was Jesse Torkelson, while Kyle Bowers picked up the honors in the bareback riding, and Ponoka’s Luke Butterfield took home the bronc riding bronze. Clint Robinson finished on top in the tie-down roping, while Lisa Lockhart earned the barrel racing Alberta title.
The team roping went to Levi Simpson, and Bashaw’s Klay Whyte.
The Duane Daines saddle bronc series cheques and honors were also handed out in Red Deer Monday night. Rookie Rylan Geiger made the Series his focus for his first year, and it wound up helping him make it all the way to his very first CFR as well.
He also won $5,000, a bronze and buckle for taking the Series.
And in the bareback riding, it was Clayton Bunney of Cessford claiming first in the Kenton Randle Series, picking up a buckle and a $5,000 cheque.
The qualifiers will start chipping away at a $1.32 million purse at Rexall Place in Edmonton starting tonight at 7 p.m.
Live radio coverage can be heard nightly on KG Country Radio.
Dianne Finstad is a regular contributor to the Red Deer Advocate and is the agriculture/rodeo director for Newcap Radio/CKGY/CIZZ FM in Red Deer